Blu-ray Review: ‘Schindler's List’ 20th Anniversary Edition

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The 1993 cinematic masterpiece "Schindler's List" arrives on a three-disc combo pack dubbed as its 20th Anniversary Edition. This DigiPack release contains one Blu-ray disc and two DVDs housing the film's Blu-Ray, DVD, UV digital, and iTunes digital copies, as well as a handful of extras. This Steven Spielberg opus stars Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Embeth Davidtz, Caroline Goodall, and Jonathan Sagall. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture, along with 6 other wins out of 12 nominations.

Even after 20 years, this tragic epic continues to be one of the most harrowing movies ever made. Its gut-wrenching journey through suffering, fear, and constant struggle for survival leaves a timeless stamp. Adapted from Austrian novelist Thomas Keneally's 1982 novel "Schindler's Ark," which was in turn based on the enigmatic war profiteer Oskar Schindler's heroic efforts to save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust, it aptly traces one of the darkest periods in human history. As the German entrepreneur gets a crisis of heart, his personal Nazi ties begin to shake and he ends up sparing the lives of more than 1,000 Jews by giving them safe haven as workers in his factories.

Visuals

This impeccable black-and-white film establishes a powerful mise-en-scene that rightfully establishes the strong emotions brought by the Holocaust during World War II. The award-winning black-and-white cinematography picks its moments very carefully; thus, providing the audience with a poignant first-person view of the story. The hauntingly striking imagery conveys an atmosphere where death is always in the air -- without being pretentious about it. Utilizing precise lighting and art direction schemes in strikingly beautiful and stylized ways, the definitive presentation often immerses with the shots' penetrating blacks, vibrant whites, and intact grays with clean gradational steps.

The faithful transfer is dealt with utmost care and respect. Holding up to the test of time, this two-decade-old film looks remarkable with the amount of detail found throughout its lengthy running time. It thoroughly impresses with virtually zero anomalies to report.

Audio

The package carries a flawless five-channel lossless track, as well as five-channel lossy mixes in Spanish and French. It delivers a mostly subtle front-heavy presentation with a few occasional bits of sound and panning effects. Yet, the soundfield remains effective and engaging with a meaningful sense of space.

The audio elements spread across the channels with impressive balance, warmth, and fidelity. The acclaimed musical score sounds dramatically sonorous from start to end. From the loudest passages to the hushed whispers, the speaking lines are always perfectly grounded and prioritized in the mix.

Supplements

This exceptional release commemorating the film's 20th year offers a few supplemental materials hosted in one of its DVDs. These include a collection of interviews from Holocaust survivors, witnesses, and descendants in "Voices from the List," the featurette "USC Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg," and the online application "About IWitness." Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.

Final Thoughts

"Schindler's List" is a magnificently affecting piece of film art. As a historical drama, it promotes a marriage of visual and aural mastery courtesy of its helmer. It marks a significant turning point in Spielberg's filmmaking career, which further makes this must-see film a must-own in home video format. The film allows the viewers to examine its cinematic surface, then dig deeper into the core of its tale. Its genuinely emotional journey offers them a moving and transformational experience that creates a lasting impact on how they view world history and life as a whole.

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