Friday, December 14, 2018

"What Exactly Did You Expect?"

A newspaper article this morning provides a form wrong-headed thinking which I feel duty-bound to correct. 

You’re welcome.

The 25-year-anniversary reissue of the Steven Spielberg-directed Schindler’s List elicits a revisiting consideration of its importance, including an arguing “Split-Decision” concerning its Spielbergian execution. 

The first person quoted about Schindler’s List is movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, who, when the film was originally released, said,

“I don’t want to burden the movie too much, but I think it will bring peace on earth and good will to men.”

So much for puddle-deep prognostication.  (Of course, that could have been his way of promoting the movie.  He should have just stuck to “It’s good.”)  

Moving on…

There is no question that a movie chronicling a historic tragedy is vitally important, in the context of “Never forget”, but also, “If you have never heard about it, this happened.”

The dividing issue concerns Steven Spielberg’s cinematic approach.

Too glossy.  Too simplistic.  Inappropriately highlighting the anomalous Nazi rescuer of 1100 over the numerous millions who were massacred.  Overly commercialized, trivializing the film’s searingly serious subject matter.

Concerning that last issue, film scholar Annette Insdorf weighs in supportively, arguing,

“Oskar Schindler himself was a larger-than-life figure, who did indeed save 1100 Jews.  How?  By manipulation.  By a showmanship (not unlike Spielberg’s)  {the parentheses are not mine} that knows – and plays – its audience, but in the service of a deeper cause.”   

Holocaust scholar – there’s a burden to carry around on a daily basis – Deborah Lipstadt opines (in part):
“Did {Schindler’s List} bring the story to countless people who no other filmmaker would have been able to reach?  There is no question.  (Besides her rhetorical one.)  
So in terms of its impact, it certainly deserves its iconic status.”

The most stinging critique of the film is provided in the article by reviewer/journalist J. Hoberman, who summarizes Spielberg’s technique, saying,

“He made a feel-good movie about the ultimate feel-bad experience.”

Here’s the thing, the writer reiterating the post’s title but without the quotation marks,

What exactly did you expect?

It’s Steven Spielberg.

That’s the way he makes movies.

If you don’t like it, don’t go.  (As I didn’t.  Not because it was Spielberg, but because of the graphic violence.  Even less palatable when it’s my people.  If you wish to maintain the memory of that devastating era cinematically, I suggest To Be or Not To Be and The Great Dictator.)

Here’s the deal, getting back to the point.

You are who you are.  And what you do – specifically, the way you do it – is – you being you – the only way you can do it. 

Critiquing Spielberg for making Schindler’s List the only way he could make it makes no reasonable sense.  That five year-old me, saying “I like ice cream but take away the ‘cold’!”  “Cold” is the innate nature of ice cream.  And Spielberg’s style is the innate nature of Spielberg.  Steven Spielberg did not make E.T.  Steven Spielberg is E.T.

He’s also Schindler’s List.

Do you think I could write these posts any differently than I write them.  Sure, I change things.  But it’s still me, doing the changes.

And also me, changing directions.

My Uncle Irving used to say,

“I wouldn’t take a million dollars for my job, or pay a penny for yours.”

Delete “job”, and replace it with “Who I am.”

If you can’t help it anyway,

What a wonderful way to feel.

Full Disclosure:

Despite occasional flashes of envy, regret and feelings I could have probably done better,

I believe I am pretty much there.


FFS said...

Well Earl, those occasional flashes could also be the opposite. You probably could have done a lot worse. Luck and happenstance probably have as much to do with your success as your talent and hard work.

Stubblejumpers Cafe said...

Exactly right, Earl.
Also, reviews - always pretending to be objective, when really all they are is "This is what *I* like and this is what *I* don't like" and it's such a matter of individual taste and place-in-life-journey that reviews shouldn't carry nearly as much weight as they do and one should never see or not see a movie or read a book based on someone else's review. -Kate