Schindler’s List 20th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-ray Review!

Schindler's List Blu-ray

Steven Spielberg Oscar winning Schindler’s List celebrates its 20th anniversary with a brand new, spit polished restored print on Blu-ray and DVD. Is this the definitive edition to get.

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I’m not going to waste too much time reviewing a movie that everyone knows already. Schindler’s List is one of the greatest movies of all time. It is hard to imagine anyone who has not seen this movie already. When I originally saw it, it was a movie that I liked a lot, but the tough subject matter stopped me from totally going full on love for it. This is Steven Spielberg’s opus and he takes this stunning black and white canvas and crafts probably one of the definitive movies about the Holocaust. He doesn’t shy away from the horrors the camps and the Nazi’s. While brutal the movie’s eventual heart comes in the form Liam Neeson’s Oscar Schindler.

Schindler starts off being a man who is only about one thing – money. He’s a businessman through and through. He doesn’t care about the Nazi’s or the plight of the jews or anything other than making deals. When he sees the horror of the death camps it changes him.  Schindler’s List is about many things, but its powerful core message – that one man can make a difference is one that will always have a powerful impact.  The movie is filled with brilliant performances top lined by Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s long time accountant and the great Ralph Fiennes as a Nazi officer who just follows orders.

Schindler's List Blu-ray Review

Spielberg’s decision to shoot this movie in black and white was a wise one as not only does it help suck you into this terror filled period in history, but it makes the movie timeless. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski shoots the heck out of this thing. This movie can and should be used as a workshop on how to effectively use and stage shots.

The use of shadows and the sparse use of colors – like the famous little girl in red shot – while hokey, still leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. When Schindler’s List first came out, I liked the movie a lot but did not really appreciate the brilliance of this seminal work until now.

If you have not seen this yet, there’s no reason not to run out and rent this.

Video, Audio

Wow, just wow. Black and white movies are one of the reasons why the Blu-ray format was invented. When you watch a movie that is properly upgraded and restored, it breathes new life into old movies. Black and white makes movies look timeless.  When Schindler’s List first came out, I liked the movie a lot, not sure if I loved it. But this transfer so stunningly beautiful it is hard not to get swept up into the time period.

It is richly detailed, there is not a spec of grain in site. This is the first time I’ve watched a movie on my new Vizio where the blacks and greys are perfectly balanced and smooth against the contrasting whites and the glow of the lights. This is just stunning quality, the depth of field makes the picture look 3D without being 3D.

If you ever wanted to see the difference between HD and SD, just watch the SD version of this. While the transfer on an upscaled DVD player is very nice, I just doesn’t compare to the HD version.

The movie comes packaged in a hard, cardboard digibook case with a dual jewel case insert to house the 3 discs. I’m not a fan of this jewel case, it makes it really hard to get to your movies as they sit on top of each other and are very difficult to slide in and out of. Luckily the Blu-ray disc sits on it’s on.  The design of the disks, menus and cover art look very classy.

Extras

The Blu-ray disc contains just the High-Def transfer of the movie. At over three hours (clearly uncompressed) they probably did not have enough space on the disc for the extras, so they included them in standard definition format on the regular DVD. The SD version on DVD is spread out over two discs.

While it is great to have the movie in the best transfer to date, the extras are just pitiful. Voices from the List a 1 hour documentary that contains detail interviews with Holocaust victims. It is hard not to be moved by these tales of courage. While really good, this is an doc from the original DVD.  USC Shoah Foundation Story is a 4 minute look at how the Shoah Foundation was created and inspired by Spielberg’s work on Schindler’s list.

This set also contains a Digital Copy that works with iTunes, Amazon Video and Ultraviolet. In the past I used to rail against UV because you couldn’t watch it on anything and had to jump through a million hoops to redeem your copies. Now, thanks to Vudu and CinemaNow every device I own (TVs, Game Systems, Blu-ray players, etc.) is capable of showing Ultraviolet in beautiful full HD. I now hate iTunes digital copy because it’s tied to Apple, I had to purchase an Apple TV just to be able to watch my digital media on my HDTVs.  I like the new trend that studios like Universal and Fox are giving customers a choice of digital copy format.

Conclusion

This is a very classy package, with a reference quality transfer for one of the greatest movies of the last 30 years. It would have been nice if there were some new extras, maybe a new doc on the making of Schindler’s list. Any other movie I would say wait for the inevitable special edition set, but I seriously doubt there will ever be a super duper uber extra filled version of this movie. So yes, everyone who owns a Blu-ray player needs to have this in their collection.

Grades

  • Movie – A+
  • Audio, Video – A+
  • Extras – C

Final Grade – A-