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Masterpiece Or Moral Authority; Analysing The Critical Receptions Of Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993)

2026 words - 8 pages

"...the Nazi persecution of the Jews is a perilous subject matter since it can so easily elicit automatic reactions of moral outrage, personal horror, religious self-righteousness and dramatic extremes, not to mention severe depression", (McCarthy, 1993)
Schindler's list premiered mere months after the inauguration of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, leading to a capitalising success on the American peoples cultural focus on historical voyeurism. The critical reception of Schindler's List is a intellectual discussion on the moral nature of a film through the ability to dramatize what was deemed impossible; critically selectively received with a social conscious, and a division on Spielberg's stylistic representation of the subject matter. The scholarship on Schindler's List only reaches one shared thesis that of its transitional nature in his cinematic career into a more self-styled seriousness with arching the blockbuster with sober artistic work (Grainge, Jancovich, & Monteith, 2012). Critical reception of Spielberg's work comments on the true nature of its testimony in memorial to the Holocaust with appropriate restraint or typical emotional manipulation, combined with arguments of the nature of film is artistic or entertaining. Temporal and spatial variations don't seem to affect the critics review, it appears to be more the view of Spielberg as an auteur and also their comfort in exploring such a sensitive historical memory. Deconstruction of the reception will discuss the stylistic nature of the film with a controversial documented cinematography, alongside Schindler's List's place among other works in regards to the subject of the Holocaust and Spielberg's handling of the digestible.
Immediately and most apparently, critic's clash as to the stylistic choice of Spielberg to provide authenticity with near-documentary cinematography; either providing needed restraint and powerful honesty to the subject or leaving the film without the expression and gravity required to confront the subject. This division of critical opinion seems to be that of cultural divide between America and England, Spielberg's historical pieces grossed greater in America possibly through the strict constructs of good and evil Spielberg creates being inherent. Kauffman and McCarthy, of the New Republic and Variety respectively, praise Spielberg for his stylistic choice of a documenting camera that provides the appropriate restraint and deftly sketches in fascinating detail the matter of arbitrary existence in the face of the inhuman cruelty of the Nazi's (McCarthy, 1993). Drawing attention to the authenticity with this lack of his traditional stylistic wizardry that evokes tears honourably without manipulation (Kauffman, 1993). There is an Americanisation of the Holocaust which can be seem to explain this intellectual response; decoding the culture we see a nation defined by an optimism of "it can't happen here". The Holocaust museums that crowd American...

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