Although the State of Israel has intermittently existed for 4,000 years, no epoch in Western Civilization juxtaposes the plight of Jewish existence more poignantly or diligently than Inside The Third Reich and Schindler’s List. The Jewish State has experienced a cycle of ransacking and rebuilding since the earliest known biblical record. Although Inside The Third Reich does not focus on the Jewish Question, it does address the etymological and ideological plight of the Nazi State. Both films address both States with particular emphasis and subtext proportionally reversed. The Jews survived Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, The Pope and most recently, Hitler. Unlike the evolving political paradigms that relentlessly threaten Jewish existence, the Jewish Nation has survived relatively unchanged since the earliest known recordings. Comparing the power and splendor of conquering States, Inside The Third Reich and Schindler’s List identify that polarity with artistic clarity. The former is about art. The later is art.
Inside The Third Reich, based on
memoirs of Albert Speer, dramatizes Speer’s immediate and glorious rise
power within the Nazi regime. Hitler had flunked out of the Vienna Art
Academy and visualized in Speer the fruition of Nazi architectural
destiny. In Speer, Hitler invested an unlimited purse to pursue designs
of megalithic proportion; statements that would last for 1,000 years.
Because of Hitler’s fervent
love of architecture, Speer was advanced to Chief Architect and became
Hitler’s personal confidant by default. This position exempted Speer
from the relentless backbiting and petty competition that existed among
his Inner Circle rivals. As a result of Speer’s memoirs, filmmakers
were enabled to reveal the inner-workings of the Third Reich from an aesthetic
Schindler’s List literally reinvented black & white film and showcased thematic lighting. The Academy had previously overlooked all of Spielberg’s best known and most beloved films. That ignorance came to a grinding halt when Stephen Spielberg completely cleaned house at the American and British Academy Awards. With so many recent movements designed to negate the reality of the Holocaust, Spielberg committed every artistic resource at his command to permanently rebuke the hecklers.
In Schindler’s List, Oskar Schindler, a wealthy businessman, seizes an opportunity to capitalize upon Jewish misfortune by starting a factory in Krakow, Poland during WWII. As his tolerance of Nazi treatment of Jews reaches a zenith, Schindler disguises the factory as a munitions plant and commits his remaining resources to save 1,100 of his Jewish workers.
Oskar Schindler: Stern, if this factory ever produces a shell that can actually be fired, I'd be very unhappy.
The first most powerful moment in Inside The Third Reich occurs when Speer designs an open-air cathedral with light, by aiming thousands of spotlights skyward to compliment the Nuremberg rally euphoria. This darkly glorious moment was underscored when Hitler gave Speer a warm and glowing forecast of his future. Hitler accepts Speer’s salute and turns to enter the romance and adoration of ½ million adoring fans. In Schindler’s List, a wealthy Jewish family has been removed from an upper class home and relocated to the Jewish quarter, to share a cramped, dirty space with several other families. Although it is avoided in dialogue, Schindler’s List confirms that Hitler’s promise ‘to finance the war by hypothecating the Jewish State,’ had become reality.
An expose’ of opulence exists in both films: While Speer courts Hitler in fanciful extravagance, Schindler’s Jews have been utterly immolated. While depravity draws the best out of Humanity, the gutter has seized control of Europe.
Itzhak Stern: Let me understand. They put up all the money. I do all the work. What, if you don't mind my asking, would you do?
Oskar Schindler: I'd make sure it's known the company's in business. I'd see that it had certain panache. That's what I'm good at. Not the work, not the work... the ‘presentation!’
Schindler’s List quickly reached acclaim as the most graphic and accurate portrayal of Humanity’s most terrifying hour. The movie captures a sequence that defined the European continent over a six year period. The Third Reich lasted slightly longer than 12 years (30JAN33 -- 15APR45), the mission and meaning of which, Spielberg described flawlessly.
Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don't.
The cinematography at times exceeds the hypnotic, as movement frequently layers 3 simultaneous concepts. A spellbinding example occurs when Goethe dismisses a young Jewish boy under a ‘forgiveness experiment’ that Schindler encouraged Amon to try. Itzhak Stern who plays Schindler’s plant manager, is shown returning to the camp interior. The scene changes to the ‘forgiven’ boy who Amon has sent back to the camp. The boy is preceding Stern along the same path. Goethe contemplates and rejects the ‘forgiveness experiment.’ The camera tracks Stern’s profile as he walks. A series of rifle shots is heard. The camera follows Stern’s profile as he walks by the freshly slain child. The camera does not pause on the boy’s dead body.
Many powerful revelations in Schindler’s List were addressed by addressing something else. While a truer horror was in progress, Spielberg employed a subconscious Hitchcock device of letting the real horror unfold in the eye of the beholder.
Derek Jacobi gave a compelling performance as Hitler, changing on-the-fly from charm to anger; from God to demon. Jacobi’s character impersonation could have made Stanislavski stand up and scream with delight. Jacobi, a London-trained Shakespearean actor, provides a hallmark moment during his conference with Speer: At the rally, Jacobi stands primly before a series of mirrors and practices his trademark gestures while discoursing quietly with Speer. The revelation is that Hitler is an actor. In fact, Hitler did take acting lessons from a drama instructor while in Vienna to further perfect his oratory antics.
The most spiritual and momentous scene in Inside The Third Reich occurs at the conclusion of Hitler’s guided tour of the new chancellery that Speer had built. After a sweeping and remarkable stroll through the building’s interior, Hitler dramatically turns to Speer and with penetratingly heartfelt praise says, "Well Done, Speer! Well Done!" At that moment we realize that Hitler has forever connected Speer’s unequivocal monument to his personal esteem of Speer. The accompanying Inner Circle members remain speechless – bound by Hitler’s unabashed and well deserved admiration of Speer.
An engineering contrast in Schindler’s List occurs when a Jewish engineer halts the construction of a building whose foundation has been improperly laid.
Reiter: I'm a graduate of Civil
from the University of Milan.
Ian Holm, who portrayed Dr. Goebbels, provides a lusciously cold-blooded glimpse of the propaganda minister. Holm played Goebbels with an austere intellect and dangerous wit.
Ralph Fiennes played Amon Goethe with no less incredulity; the little boy Kamp Kommandant with unlimited power and a blind devotion to Heinrich Himmler.
Amon Goethe: They cast a spell on you, you know, the Jews. When you work closely with them, like I do, you see this. They have this power. It's like a virus. Some of my men are infected with this virus. They should be pitied, not punished. They should receive treatment because this is as real as typhus. I see it all the time. It's a matter of money? Hmm?
Speer and Schindler both portray young opportunist, tragic heroes. While Speer maintained an ignorant posture regarding the crimes committed against the Jews, Schindler depleted his resources to save them. Speer accurately claimed to be the only friend that Hitler had; who once said "No" to Hitler and lived. Stern’s financial finesse maximized Schindler’s resources before reaching insolvency. Speer accomplished the same feat for Hitler when Speer became Reichmarshal of Armaments and Munitions and ingeniously prolonged the war another 3 years. Speer refused to implement Hitler’s "scorched Earth" policy as the Russians were about to take Berlin. Schindler was given a letter, signed by ‘his Jews’ to exonerate him of war crimes in the event of his capture.
Amon Goethe: You're cruel Oskar. You're giving them hope. Now that's cruel!
Schindler’s List dumps Human-drama entire into the lap of the viewer. What would you do if every aspect of your existence was mortally threatened from every conceivable angle?
What are the moral and spiritual ramifications to unspeakable brutality? The Holocaust never happened?
Itzhak Stern: This list... is an absolute good.
Both films use and develop every known theatrical device to convey an emotion. The films are about feelings and the feelings are about art. In one, we see gold-plated waste matter promoted by violence, disguised in ignorance and showered with denial. Incredible expense was incurred to construct sets that will likely never be reaccomplised. In Schindler’s List, all of us are in a gas chamber: Rob the victim – bury the body. Spielberg shocked us when the shower nozzles dispensed water instead of Zyklon B. Etymologically, both films describe life and death through beauty and savagery. Black and white became a canvas and the entire experience became a painting…while in the other film, the paintings were objects being stolen.
Rutger Hauer played Albert Speer in a very demanding role. What would you do if you were an architect with a carte blanche expense account? How do you refuse a demi-god who admires you and bathes you in praise? Do you sell your soul to build monuments to God?
Schindler’s List inspired the most beautiful acting; the most extraordinary cinematography and an indelible statement about Mankind. Inside The Third Reich explored Hitler’s appropriation of looted funds and The Fuhrer’s obsession with an ideology that never achieved fruition. The Holocaust did happen…and New Berlin didn’t. "The truth is always the right answer." [Goethe] How do you refute the truth?
[Touching his reflection in a mirror]
Inside The Third Reich (1982)
ABC Circle Films
1982 Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Film Sound Editing: Peter Bond, Tom Cornwell, David R. Elliott, Tony Barber, Peter Harrison, Joseph A. Mayer, Charles McCann, Joseph Melody, R. William A. Thiederman, Russ Tinsley (supervising film sound editor), Rusty Tinsley and William H. Wistrom (supervising film sound editor).
1983 The Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Specials to Marvin J. Chomsky and John C. Chulay (first assistant director) received a plaque.
Schindler’s List (1993)
Liam Neeson – Oskar
Schindler’s List took almost everything at the American (and British) Academy Awards.
Additional citations: American Cinema Editors, American (and British) Society of Cinematographers, Director’s Guild of America, Golden Globes (USA), Grammy (1995), Human Family Educational & Cultural Institute (USA), London (New York and Los Angeles) [Film] Critics Circle/Association (L.A.), MTV Movie Awards, National Board of Review, National Society of Film Critics, PGA Golden Laurel Awards, Political Film Society (USA), USC Scripter Award, Writer’s Guild of America
The Third Reich directed by Marvin J. Chomsky, 1982