Watch Spielberg's 'Schindler's List' on Netflix

“Schindler’s List” is the greatest film that Stephen Spielberg has ever made and, likely, will ever make, which is saying a lot, considering that he is one of the best filmmakers of his generation. The film depicts the Nazi Holocaust through the eyes of a German entrepreneur named Oskar Schindler, a man who saw World War II and the Nazi persecution of the Jews as a way to make his fortune. He starts the war by bribing Nazi officials and Germany Army officers to allow him to create a factory staffed by Jewish slaves. He ends the war broke but with the rare distinction of having saved almost a thousand human beings from certain death in the gas chambers.

Schindler is played by Liam Neeson, an actor who would later become famous as a middle-aged action hero in such films as “Taken.” Schindler is a bon vivant, a man with no overarching ideology, but at the same time lacking any amount of viciousness. He also had one quality that served both him and the people under his charge well – a moral conscience.

Schindler’s conscience comes into play when he witnesses the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto, an atrocity overseen by a brutal SS officer played by Ralph Fiennes. The horror that he witnesses causes him to change his mission from making as much money as possible to saving as many lives as he can. He uses all of his skills as a wheeler dealer, buttressed by generous bribes, in pursuit of this mission. Schindler is aided in his quest by a Jewish accountant played by Ben Kingsley.

One searing sequence stands out in the movie. Learning that a trainload of his Jews has been diverted to Auschwitz, Schindler travels to that man-made hell on Earth and, through his gift for fast talking and a bag of diamonds, brings them out again, snatching hundreds of human beings from the jaws of death.

Six million Jews perished in the Nazi Holocaust. “Schindler’s List” is about a thousand human beings who survived, thanks to the efforts and skills of a flawed but fundamentally good man. It speaks much of Schindler’s character that at the end, with Nazi Germany fallen, he is not triumphant for the lives he saved, but heartbroken for all those he was not able to keep from dying.

Directing “Schindler’s List” was an emotional trial for Spielberg. He has used Nazis as comic book villains in the Indiana Jones movies. He would never do that again, seeing close up the monstrous evil they had inflicted on the world.

“Schindler’s List” was a big hit with audiences, making over $321 million worldwide. It also won a slew of Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Now Netflix subscribers can see the movie for the first time or again to renew their acquaintance with a masterwork of cinematic art.