Schindler’s List: 25th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagalle
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Writer: Steven Zaillian
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Gerald R. Molen, Branko Lustig
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 18, 2018
  • Run Time: 196 minutes

        There’s a quote that I like to refer to when discussing the purpose of watching movies, which is something I am inclined to do in order to justify the amount of time spent in front of a screen. There is debate over its origins (I first heard it said by David Foster Wallace) and the quote discusses art in general, claiming the function, “is to comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable.” More and more, it feels like a majority of the films made in America are simply intended to comfort, to entertain and amuse without too many challenged, intellectually or emotionally. We are so accustomed to popcorn entertainment in this country that it is easy to forget how powerful a film can be when the intention is discomfort instead. Schindler’s List is exactly this type of film; a masterpiece that is painful to endure. This is a film everyone should see at least once in their life, and there is now one more way to view it, with the release of the 25th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD Edition.

        Anniversary editions of films are released all of the time, but few are given the treatment that Schindler’s List has been given. Restored from the original negative and supervised by Steven Spielberg himself, even the DVD or Blu-ray release of this 25th Anniversary Edition would be worthwhile, but the 4K is absolutely pristine, and the film looks as though it hasn’t aged at all. One might assume that a black-and-white film with few special effects and/or action would be a poor choice for 4K, but this would be an incorrect assumption in regards to Schindler’s List. Janusz Kaminski won Best Cinematography at the 1994 Academy Awards; this is one of the marvels of Spielberg’s film, and of the 4K release as well.

        Though plot description feels as if it should be unnecessary at this point, Schindler’s List is about the efforts made during the Holocaust by Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German businessman whose opportunism saved over a thousand Jewish lives. What started as a way to utilize a cheap workforce awakened a type of redemption in the man as he witnessed the Nazi atrocities and realized that his greedy employment methods could actually save lives. Amazingly, Neeson is able to show a believable transformation of Schindler’s character over the course of the film, which earned him a Best Actor nomination. The remainder of the film’s power comes from a frightening supporting performance from Ralph Fiennes as Nazi officer Amon Göth, and seemingly endless scenes of brutality in the concentration camps. It is a painful, difficult film, worth watching multiple times even if once is enough not to forget.

        As the winner of seven Academy Awards and countless others, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are plenty of special features for the 25th Anniversary release, although all but one have previously been released. There are many fantastic and respectful extras carried over from the original Special Edition DVD release, including a feature-length documentary with real testimonies from Holocaust survivors and a featurette about the USC Shoah Foundation, and the footage they filmed during the making of this film for their Visual History Archive. There are several featurettes with material from or about the Shoah Foundation in the special features. The one new extra is a retrospective, “Schindler’s List: 25 Years Later,” which has Spielberg joined in a reunion and interviews with actors Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Embeth Davidtz and Caroline Goodall at the Tribeca Film Festival this past year. While it might not be worthwhile to upgrade for special features alone, the 4K restoration is certainly reason enough. The package also comes with two Blu-ray discs (one with the film and another for the special features) and a digital copy of the film.

Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 10/10
Historical Significance:  10/10
Special Features: 8/10

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