Thursday, March 24, 2011

List to the Right

Schindler's List: I'd like to propose that this film be read in terms of the socio-political context of the early 1990s. Namely, what we have is a text arguing that 1) death and survival/salvation and damnation are arbitrary and random; 2) that the person who can do the most to fight oppression and injustice is not the state, not the party, not the church [repeat ad nauseum through all the traditional institutions], but the individual, and 3) that this fighting of oppression can, indeed should, be fought through capitalist activity. And as such, it's part of a philisophical continuum with privatisation, deregulation, "trade not aid," and the idea that social activism need not cause one to sacrifice one's material comforts (indeed, that one might even turn a profit doing so-- and it's only at the very end of the film that Schindler ceases turning a profit and starts going bankrupt in the name of saving Jews). Not saying it's a bad film-- quite the contrary, it's well shot and the performances are superb, though it could definitely have done without the cloying "I could have done more!" speech at the end-- but that maybe it needs to be seen not as having a universal message, but as a film made at a time when the old institutions were failing, capitalism was on the ascendant, and people were looking for a philosophy.

Movie count for 2011: 43