Friday, July 06, 2007

Schindler's List

The film begins with the relocation of the Jews to Krakow in September of 1939, shortly after the beginning of World War II. Oskar Schindler, an unsuccessful businessman, arrives from Czechoslovakia in hopes of using the abundant slave labor force of Jews to manufacture goods for the German Army. Schindler makes a very good impression early on, being a member of the Nazi Party, and lavishes bribes upon the army and SS officials in charge. His wife, Emilie, comes to visit him in his new home, and is shocked when another woman answers the door. Schindler tells her that if she wishes to stay, it is up to her. She offers to stay, provided there is no further philandering; Schindler waves goodbye to his wife at the train station.
Sponsored by the military, Schindler acquires a factory for the production of metal wares and gains a contact in Itzhak Stern, a functionary in the local Judenrat (Jewish Council) who in turn has contacts with the now underground Jewish business community in the Ghetto. They will loan him the money for the factory, and he will give them a small share of products produced for trade on the black market. Opening the factory, Schindler pleases the Nazis and enjoys his new-found wealth, while Stern handles all administration and uses his position to suggest to Schindler to hire Jews instead of Poles, because their labour is for free. Workers in Schindler's factory are allowed outside the ghetto, and are certified as "essential workers", guaranteeing that they will not be rounded up at night by the Gestapo. This last point is key, and Stern falsifies documents to ensure that as many people as possible are deemed "essential" by the Nazi bureaucracy. Schindler becomes aware of what is going on, but takes no action to stop it.
We are introduced to an SS officer named Amon Göth who arrives in Krakow to initiate construction of a labor camp, Płaszów. He eagerly appeals to Schindler that the Jewish population is a "virus". While surveying the construction of a new building at a concentration camp, a female Jewish engineer urges him to redo the improperly laid foundation for the barrack. Göth immediately mandates her murder and, in the next breath, Göth orders that everything she requested be done. In due course, Göth razes the Krakow ghetto, sending in hundreds of troops to clear the cramped rooms and shooting anyone who cannot or will not leave. Schindler watches the massacre from the hills overlooking the area, and is profoundly affected, especially when he spots a little girl in a red coat. He meets Göth during a dinner with other important SS officers, and is careful to befriend Göth, keeping his disturbances private, and patiently agreeing with Göth and other Nazis' rambling statements about Jews. Having earned his trust, Schindler convinces Göth to let him keep his workers for considerable bribes and pay-offs. Schindler, now reluctantly sheltering people who have very few skills, starts losing money.
In the labor camp, the Jewish prisoners are made to strip naked and to run around the camp's central square while being "physically examined" by physicans as useful laborers or not, with the clear purpose being to separate those capable of labor from those who are too old, too young, or too frail, and will be disposed of. To Amon Göth's considerable consternation, and to Schindler's horror, an order arrives from Berlin commanding Göth to exhume and destroy all bodies of those killed in the ghetto razing, dismantle Płaszów, and to ship the whole population to Auschwitz. He explains to Schindler that he is being asked to do this immediately, and it is the administrative burden that horrifies him, not the thought of having to destroy "every rag": saying to Schindler that, "the party is over". Schindler is further horrified when he observes the same little girl in the red coat seen during the ghetto massacre, her now lifeless body being wheeled to the pit to be consumed and destroyed by fire. He now realizes the abhorrent evil around him and reaches an epiphany. Schindler prevails upon Göth to let him keep his workers, so that he can move them to a factory in his old home of Zwittau-Brinnlitz, in Moravia, away from the Holocaust, now fully underway in Poland. Göth acquiesces, for a payoff of millions of Reichsmark. So that his workers can be kept off the trains to the killing centers, Schindler, with Stern, assembles a list of them.

Schindler rescues one of his workers
"Schindler's List" comprises these "skilled" inmates, and for many of those in Płaszów camp, being on it means the difference between life and death. Almost all of the people on Schindler's list arrive safely at the new site, with exception to the trains carrying the women, which is accidentally redirected to Auschwitz. Schindler rushes immediately to Auschwitz and stops their gassing. He bribes the camp commander, Rudolf Hoess, with a cache of diamonds. Hoess reluctantly agrees and the women are spared. As the women board the train to the site of the factory, several SS officers attempt to hold some children back and prevent them from leaving. However, Schindler, who is there to personally oversee the boarding, steps in and demands the officers release the children, giving as his reason that their small hands and fingers can clean the insides of small shell casings. Once the Schindler women arrive in Zwittau-Brinnlitz, Schindler institutes firm controls on the Nazi guards assigned to the factory, permits the Jews to observe the Sabbath, and spends the rest of his fortune bribing Nazi officials. In his home town, he surprises his wife while she's in church during mass, and tells her that she is the only woman in his life. She goes with him to the factory to help out with the inmates. He runs out of money just as the German army surrenders, ending the war in Europe.
As a German Nazi and self-described "profiteer of slave labor", Schindler must flee the oncoming Soviet Red Army. After dismissing the Nazi guards to return to their families, he packs a car in the night, and bids farewell to his workers. They give him a letter explaining his actions and that he is not a criminal, together with a ring engraved with the Talmudic quotation, "He who saves the life of one man, saves the world entire." Seeing his luxurious car, Schindler is consumed with guilt, realizing he could have bribed Göth for ten more Jews with it. Panged with the regret of not having done more, Schindler breaks down in front of his workers, then leaves with his wife. The Schindler Jews, having slept outside the factory gates through the night, are awakened by sunlight the next morning. A Soviet dragoon arrives and announces to the Jews that they have been liberated. The Jews walk to a nearby town in search of a place to go. As they walk abreast, the frame changes to another of the Schindler Jews in the present day at the grave of Oskar Schindler in Israel. In the ensuing epilogue the execution of an indifferent Göth by the Red Army for War Crimes is shown.
The film ends by showing a procession of now-aged Jews who worked in Schindler's factory, who reverently set a stone on his grave. The actors portraying the major characters walk hand-in-hand with the actual persons they portrayed, placing stones on Schindler's grave as they pass. The camera pans to the left, revealing a long line of people consisting of not only those portrayed in the film but also their families. Ben Kingsley walks to the grave holding the hand of Itzhak Stern's widow. The movie then imparts that the survivors and descendents of the approximately 1,100 Jews sheltered by Schindler now number over 6,000. It then mentions that the Jewish population of Poland, once numbering in the millions, was at the time of the film's release approximately 4,000. In a final scene, a man (the unseen face of Liam Neeson) places a rose on the grave, and stands contemplatively over it.

Ten Little Indians

Ten little Indians went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine. Nine little Indians sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were Eight. Eight little Indians traveling in Devon; One said he'd stay there and then there were Seven. Seven little Indians chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six. Six little Indians playing with a hive; A bumble bee stung one and then there were Five.
Five little Indians going in for law; One got into Chancery and then there were Four.
Four little Indians going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three. Three little Indians walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.
Two little Indians sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was One.
One little Indian left all alone; He went out and hanged himself And then there were none.

World Federation of Great Towers

Tower's name
Total height
CN Tower
553.33m /1,815ft
The Ostankino Tower
540m / 1,771ft
Oriental Pearl Tower
468m / 1,535ft
John Hancock Center
444m / 1,455ft
Empire State Building
New York
443m /1,454ft
KL Tower
Kuala Lumpur
421m / 1,403ft
Tianjin Radio and Television Tower
368m / 1,197ft
Central TV Tower
405m / 1,329ft
Tashkent Tower
375m / 1,230ft
368m / 1,197ft
Macau Tower
Macau SAR
338m / 1,109ft
Tokyo Tower
Sky Tower
New Zealand
328m / 1,076ft
Vilnius TV Tower
326.5m / 1,071ft
Tallinn TV Tower
314m / 1,030ft
Sydney Tower
304m / 1,000ft
Collserola Tower
288m / 945ft
Rialto Towers
270m / 886ft
252m / 827ft
Seoul Tower
South Korea
239.7m / 786ft
Žižkov Television Tower
Czech Republic
216m / 709ft
The Euromast
185m / 607ft
Torre Latinoamericana
Mexico City
182m / 594ft
Blackpool Tower
United Kingdom
158m / 519ft
Olympic Stadium
175m / 575ft
Nový Most
95m / 311ft