Topics is a course at Southport High School taught by Kevin Sanders that analyzes major events from United States and world history through Hollywood films that attempt to portray those events. Students investigate historical documents and other sources to determine if a film is historically accurate.
The goal is for students to develop deeper understandings of the historical discipline while generating questions about the way the world is around them, along with watching classical films that have graced American and international screens.
Student: Samantha “Sami” Trahan
Film Reviewed: Schindler’s List
Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is a cinematic masterpiece. The historical accuracy is there, having nearly an identical storyline to the real story. It’s necessary for this movie to be accurate because of the truth behind it. It brings awareness to the list, which not many people knew about before the movie. Schindler’s List highlights Oskar Schindler, a man who helped save over 1,000 Jews from the concentration camps in Germany during WWII. He had multiple factories where he would have Jews work in order to prevent them from going to concentration camps. In the movie he’s portrayed as a man who started out not caring about what the Nazis were doing as he was a part of the Nazi party and tried to make a business deal for money. Later he genuinely cared and wished he would’ve tried to save more Jews from the horrid grasp of the Nazis.
In the movie, it’s clear that Schindler ends up making a lot of money from a factory that he claimed was “essential for the war effort.” He used that money to bribe SS officers to get the women and men on his list to his factory safely. However, he didn’t produce nearly as much as shown in the movie. While having a factory in Brünnlitz, his hometown, he produced a small amount of live ammunition in just under eight months, not giving him as much money as portrayed in the movie. In real life, he still managed to earn enough money, allowing him to bribe different SS officers for the Jewish workers that he had on his list.
On Nov. 24, 1992, Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig was interviewed about her experience and how she knew Oskar Schindler. She was the maid for Amon Göth, an SS officer who was in control of a camp in Płaszów. She said, “He would take me to the window. And he would tell me, ‘You see those Jewish people, you people? They work. They carry stones. They carry rocks, just like in Egypt. Remember when the Jews were in exile, and then they were freed?’ He said, ‘That’s what’s going to happen to you. You’re going to be free of the hell.’” In the movie, we see something very similar. In one scene, he’s comforting her and reassuring that she’ll be safe. She also said in the same interview, “And, um, if not for him, I don’t think I would be able to, be able to tell this story.” From her interview, she testifies that he was a good man and that he genuinely wanted to help as many Jews as he could. Director Steven Spielberg portrayed Schindler similarly in the film. Upon hearing the news of Jewish prisoners being liberated, the viewers can see that Schindler didn’t feel like he had done enough in order to save the most Jews that he could when he broke down crying. Schindler starts out as someone who is desensitized to the whole situation but turns into someone with an immense amount of compassion toward the Jewish prisoners, unlike a lot of the other Germans with power. Spielberg shows Schindler in the same light that Helen talked about him, showing that he really was serious about saving them. Spielberg definitely did his research on the film, trying to make it as similar to the real Oskar Schindler as possible. It started off only as a business transaction for Schindler, but it turned into so much more.