Tear Jerker / Schindler's List

Let's say it. The WHOLE MOVIE is a Tearjerker. There's a reason why it won the Best Picture Oscar.

The film

  • The scene that sets the tone for the rest of the film is the death of the one armed gentleman. Shortly after a scene where he praises Schindler and promises to work his hardest, he is taken aside while shovelling snow by the guards, all while blithely exclaiming "I work for Oskar Schindler!" before being shot. After that, we see Schindler, who had harshly criticized Stern for hiring him and demanded never to be put in such a position again, angrily demanding compensation and insisting that the man was an essential worker: "Quite skilled."
  • Particularly one of the movie's final moments, where Schindler laments how he could have saved more Jews by pawning off more of his possessions. Throughout the entire film, more of his lapsed morals come roaring back to the forefront, but he's hit by a wave of guilt at the end that he didn't realize what needed to happen sooner. What really sells it is just how utterly broken he sounds when he laments the fact that he didn't get more.
    • One brief yet gut-wrenching part comes just before Schindler's breakdown. Right after he says, "I could have got more out," Itzhak slowly shakes his head, with a sad expression on his face. He knows what's about to happen.
    • The tragedy of his Heroic B.S.O.D. is best conveyed by the scene where Schindler risks his life to rescue his workers from being mistakingly sent to Auschwitz. It is a truly courageous moment for he had saved many lives. But then the camera pans towards the other Jews, those unfortunate without Schindler's protection, heading toward their fate in the camps...
  • The little girl in the red coat. She walks past death, vaguely aware of the violence around her. To make matters worse, when Schindler sees the little girl take refuge (unnoticed) in an abandoned place, Schindler leaves implying to himself "she's all right." Then he discovers that she joins the cremating scene.
  • The scene where the mothers are cheerfully getting dressed after being selected. Then the children are lured out presumably to be thrown in the gas chambers onto trucks. As the children gleefully wave good-bye to their parents, a rampage of parents heads howling and running toward the trucks.
  • A more understated one is where the stone path in the camp is shown to be made of Jewish gravestones. Those were gravestones that people had put up in memory of their loved ones who had passed away, and the Nazis had nonchalantly pulled them up and put them where they would be regularly trod upon. It's probably significant that the very last shot of the film shows these gravestones with the credits overlayed over them.
  • Stern and Schindler finally sharing a drink just after they've learnt that all the Płaszow inmates, including Stern, are to be sent to Auschwitz and almost certain death.
    Oskar: Someday... this is all going to end, you know. I was going to say "we'll have a drink then".
    Itzhak (with tears in his eyes): I think I'd better have it now.
  • The ending scene at Schindler's Grave, with all the real survivors respectfully placing stones at it.
    • One notable scene is where the elderly Emilie Schindler is wheeled away and she can't stop staring at Oskar's grave. It's real.
    • The last person in the procession places a flower on Schindler's grave and silently watches over his resting place. That man? Liam Neeson.
  • The horrifying scene where human corpses are cremated at the Hujova Gorka in Plaszow, and Schindler, shocked, wipes the ashes off the wheel of his car as if they were falling snow. One of the SS men makes scary faces at the Jews carrying the corpses to the fire and laughs.
  • Especially for Jews and Israelis, the scene at the end where the Schindlerjuden march away from the camp as "Yerushalayim shel Zahav" ("Jerusalem of Gold") plays in the background. It eventually fades into the remaining survivors marching toward Schindler's grave.
  • Toward the end of the movie, Schindler breaks down crying about all the Jews he didn't save. At one point he takes off and holds up his gold Nazi Party pin, saying that he could have sold it and used the money to buy another Jew out of Auschwitz.
    Oskar: This pin... two people. This is gold; two more people. He would've given me two for it. At least one, he would've given me one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this.
    • This may be better for YMMV, but the last part of Oskar's line is muttered. It sounds very much like Schindler is saying "what person was that" instead of "a person, Stern, for this." Coupled with his staring into space, imagine the eyes and faces of every Jew he saw in the camps are now flashing through his head when he sees that he truly could have saved at least one more person. What person would he choose? How could he have chosen?
    • Schindler breaks down while Stern and a lot of his other workers all go in to hug him.
    • The most powerful scene in the movie.
  • The song "Jerusalem Of Gold" - an Israeli hymn of praise and longing for the (old) city - playing as the Schindler Jews walk hand in hand to freedom, just before their real-world counterparts come to pay their respect at Schindler's grave on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. This is really the only mention of the State of Israel - the final destination for many of the Schindler Jews - anywhere in the movie.
  • During the scene where the children get taken away onto the trucks, there were other kids either running away, or hiding from the guards. One boy tries to find a hiding spot, but every place he looks is already occupied by one or two other kids. This eventually leads him to hide down a crapper. But the real kicker here? It was yet another occupied spot by two other kids.
    • Don't forget the harshest Brick Joke in movie history: the Nazis find and shoot them all, including the two children in the crapper.
  • The scene where Stern tells Schindler that he's broke. This man did so much to save all those people and what does he get out of it? He was rich and now he has nothing.


  • Producer Branko Lustig's speech after winning the Best Picture Oscar also counts as this. He is a survivor of Auschwitz.
  • The title theme by John Williams; the violin almost sounds like it's sobbing, wailing out its grief and pain at so much loss.
    • The orchestra was led by famed Jewish violist Itzhak Perlman, who considered it the greatest honor of his career.