Study Guide

Schindler's List Good vs. Evil

Good vs. Evil

Any movie with Nazis has its bad guys all set. You don't get more evil than the Nazis, and, in Schindler's List, we see them in Maximum Evil mode. Yet at the same time, there's something utterly banal and ordinary about the way they go about their work of deportation and extermination. They're bloodless bureaucrats doing a job. It's just that their job happens to be dealing death. They don't seem to be giving it a second thought. Who are these guys?

Good comes from an unexpected source: not only the Jews who are fighting to survive, but from Oskar Schindler—an amoral businessman who initially wants to use them as slave labor. Here's a guy coming from the same pool of people—ethnic Germans—who are humiliating and killing Jews as members of the SS. What makes him different? Spielberg never answers that question.

Questions About Good vs. Evil

  1. When does Schindler exercise evil actions? Good ones?
  2. In what specific ways are evil and good expressed in the film? How does that reflect the historical circumstances surrounding these events?
  3. How does it benefit the movie to portray evil men like Goeth as so passively "normal" about it all, instead of like the Nazis in the Indiana Jones movies?

Chew on This

Good wins out over evil as Schindler's better instincts eventually triumph over his self-interest.

It's a good story, but there was only one Schindler and six million Jews ended up dead. Evil definitely wins this round.

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