Thursday, September 4, 2008

Schindler's List

It's entirely appropriate, I think, that one of the greatest movies of the past 20 years should have resulted in one of the best trailers I've ever seen.

Schindler's List was released in December of 1993, won 7 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. It's an astonishingly painful and moving reconstruction of the Holocaust, of death and of hope. The first time I saw it, I exited the theater with the front of my shirt wet from sobbing. As far as a film can ever be that way, it was a transcendent experience.

The trailer nearly matches it. Except for two brief instances, there is no dialogue from the movie, and no sound. Instead the montage of imagery is overlaid with a haunting, stunningly beautiful piece of music by Polish composer Wojciech Kilar called Exodus. The music does not appear at all in the film -- not knowing that, I bought the soundtrack on CD, and was profoundly disappointed at its lack -- and instead makes the trailer its own small masterpiece.

Even without the movie to provide context, the trailer is filled with imagery so horrific to almost defy belief -- and, it must be said, to suck you in and make you want to see the film: the pile of gold-filled teeth being emptied onto the table; the girl yelling goodbye as the Jews are expelled from Krakow; the little boy drawing his finger across his throat; the child looking up at the sunlight from where he's hiding beneath the outhouse.

The trailer for Schindler's List does more than simply make you want to see the movie. It makes you want to understand the movie; understand what happened. As such, I think it's probably one of the best theatrical trailers ever made.

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