Although 25 years have passed since Steven Spielberg first released Schindler’s List, he believes the Holocaust film might be even more important now than ever for audiences to see.
The film, which tells the story of a German businessman who helped save the lives of thousands of Polish-Jewish people during the Holocaust, will be re-released to 1,000 theaters on Friday, and the 71-year-old director says it couldn’t come at a better time.
“I think this is maybe the most important time to re-release the film,” he said in an interview with NBC Nightly News.
“Possibly now is an even more important time to re-release Schindler’s List than 1993-1994 when it was initially released. I think there’s more at stake today than even back then,” he added, referring to the wave of anti-Semitism and xenophobia present in the United States — and across the world.
When asked what he hoped a new audience will take away from the movie or previous audiences will remember, Spielberg replied, “Well, just that individual hate is a terrible thing. But when collective hate organizes and gets industrialized, then genocide follows.”
Although the film went on to become both a commercial and a critical success, Spielberg explained that he didn’t see the positive reaction coming.
“I couldn’t imagine based on the story that we told that an audience would tolerate just the amount of violence, you know, human against human. Or inhuman against human,” he remarked during the NBC Nightly News interview.
Reflecting on his decision to film the movie in black and white, the film director shared that he simply didn’t “know the Holocaust in color.”
“I wasn’t around then. But I’ve seen documentaries of the Holocaust. They’re all shot in black and white. It’s my only reference point,” he added. “I wanted it to feel real.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever do anything as important,” he continued. “So this, for me, is something that I will always be proudest of.”
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In addition to raking in $320 million worldwide, the film went on to win an Oscar for Best Picture and a directing award for Spielberg at the 1994 ceremony — and while he was certainly happy to win, Spielberg previously shared that he didn’t have the typical celebration one might have after winning an Academy Award.
“I don’t feel this movie is a celebration. The subject matter and the impact the film had on all of us … took sort of the celebration out of that,” he added.