"Yo, man, that movie was deep, bro."
"I had no idea all that shit went down. That was real."
I smiled. A broad smile to myself. Hearing their conversation made me happy and it gave me hope. I knew the movie that they were talking about. I was seated directly across from them on the subway train. I'd been seated a row behind them at the movie. We all had just seen SCHINDLER'S LIST directed by Steven Spielberg.
I wish I could've had that brief encounter with Steven Spielberg after I'd seen the film so I could've told him of the deep impact it made on the hearts and minds of two other black men -- young black men who were not aware of all the horrors of the Holocaust.
Steven Spielberg's SCHINDLER'S LIST shook me too. Spielberg's Oscar-winning film is back in theaters to mark its 25th anniversary. Said Spielberg: "...there is more at stake today than even back then...hate is less parenthetical today and more of a headline...Individual hate is a terrible thing, but when collective hate organizes, then genocide follows..."
Think of the KKK hate that marched through Charlottesville, VA last year. Think of the shooting deaths at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this year.
Some critics were not pleased with Spielberg's film. I learned that recently listening to AIR TALK on KPCC, an NPR radio station of Pasadena, CA. During its Friday film review hour, it was mentioned that national critic J Hoberman called SCHINDLER'S LIST "a feelgood movie about a feel bad" event. Hoberman, like a few others, didn't feel the film was gritty enough. This was discussed as critics addressed the 25th anniversary of the film and its current re-release.
It was not an easy movie to sit through. But we movie-goers did. It was not an easy movie to make. The Hollywood studio, Universal Pictures, did not immediately jump for joy at the notion of greenlighting a 3-hour movie about the Holocaust. In black and white. From Steven Spielberg.
Universal was more keen on Steven Spielberg, the most famous and successful American director of our generation, giving what he'd given us before -- big colorful action and fantasy films that did colossal business at the box office. Films like JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and JURASSIC PARK. Hollywood studio executives wanted dinosaurs chasing Jeff Goldblum, not Nazis killing Jews. But Steven Spielberg made his film. And we paid to see it. And we learned from it.
I know. I sat directly across from two young men who did.
I'm glad SCHINDLER'S LIST is back. People need to see it. Especially some important people in the White House.
After he made SCHINDLER'S LIST, and because of its success with moviegoers, Steven Spielberg started The USC Shoah Foundation: https://sfi.usc.edu/.