It has been more than 10 years since “Schindler’s List” first swept the box office in 1993. Now, for the first time ever, Universal Studios, alongside the Shoah Foundation, has released the landmark film on DVD.
Tuesday’s release accompanies the 10-year anniversary of the “Shoah Visual History Foundation,” which Steven Spielberg founded immediately following the success of his film in 1994 to, as he said, “continue the legacy of Schindler’s List” and “to overcome prejudice, intolerance and bigotry and the suffering they cause through the educational use of the foundation’s visual history of testimonies.”
Occupying the first two discs is, of course, the film, digitally mastered and in its original widescreen 1:85:1 aspect ratio along with its full frame 1:33:1 aspect ratio. Disc Three offers two bonus features. The first is a 12-minute short titled “The Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg,” a description of what the Shoah Foundation is. It begins with statements by Spielberg, followed by several horrific eye witness accounts of survivors, with one woman recalling what a fellow female prisoner said to her regarding where her parents were. “Do you see this chimney?” she said. “There go your parents.” In addition to these accounts are those of the liberators and of contemporary students commenting on how the Foundation’s work began, as well as how it affects students to this day.
The Foundation has collected more than 52,000 eyewitness accounts and is making them accessible in more than 62 countries. These accounts, as Spielberg hopes, will help educate people about why bias occurs, and it will provide means to prevent its occurrence in the future.
The second feature on the bonus DVD is the 77-minute documentary “Voices from the List,” a series of personal testimonies given by survivors Oskar Schindler saved. Using the plot line of “Schindler’s List” as a foundation from which these true accounts launch themselves, the testimonies show the viewer how much of what was recreated actually happened. From the way in which Schindler conned his way to the top to the infamous scene in which Nazi Amon Goeth shoots prisoners from his balcony, what may have been shrouded in the possibility of being ficticious, is driven home by those who are in tears describing the events they witnessed firsthand.
The only thing this DVD set is missing is the behind-the-scenes production footage that every good cineaste demands, as well as the obligatory director’s commentary. Even so, it’s worth the $26.98 retail price for its educational and emotional value.