Study Guide

Schindler's List What's Up With the Ending?

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What's Up With the Ending?

Fortunately, Shmoop went to Costco before watching Schindler's List and purchased a 12-pack of Kleenex Ultra. If you're not reduced to tears during the film's final scene, then either you're all cried out from the rest of the movie or you've been way too busy checking your phone. Even the often cranky film critic Gene Siskel called it "the most deeply moving ending in motion picture history."

So put down that phone this minute.

For starters, it's a fairly uplifting ending, with Schindler's workers surviving the war, and Oskar breaking down in tears at the enormity of what's gone on. The sequence is an emotional catharsis: the tears and horror at the sheer overwhelming magnitude of it all.

The Jewish workers walk away toward their uncertain future, and suddenly Spielberg shifts from B/W to color. At first, it looks like a continuation of the previous scene. Then we realize that we're watching the real-life survivors moving one by one to pay their respects at Schindler's grave.

We see that they survived, that Schindler's efforts had meaning. As Siskel puts it, it's a moving moment that lets us finally break down and sob with joy, in spite of—and maybe because of—everything that's gone before.

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