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Trivia / Schindler's List

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  • Schindler's story went relatively unknown for several decades. It was only after emigrating to America that Leopold Pfefferberg (one of the Schindlerjuden) began talking to any author he could find about publishing the story. All were unreceptive. Thomas Keneally only happened to meet Pfefferberg by chance, and upon learning that he was a Holocaust survivor, immediately agreed to write their story. Pfefferberg had been trying to get a movie made for years, with the first attempt starting at MGM in 1963.
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  • After reading Schindler's Ark, Steven Spielberg immediately secured the rights to a film version. Originally, he was only going to produce the film. He offered Martin Scorsese the director's chair, who refused, saying that this movie had to be made by a Jewish filmmaker. He then offered Roman Polanski, a Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivor whose mother died in Auschwitz, to direct the movie. Polanski turned it down, finding the subject matter too personal; he would then proceed to direct The Pianist, nearly ten years later, by which time he was more comfortable dealing with his past.
  • For the scene where Schindler rode full speed towards Auschwitz to save the trainload of women mistakenly sent to death, they chose a motorcar which could not have been owned and used by Schindler in 1944 (a Daimler DE36) for the simple reason it has been designed in 1946 in Britain. All other cars are appropriate for the time and country: the other Schindler car, a Horch, the car Goeth rides in Plaszow, a Mercedes-Benz etc. No explanation is given why this car has been hired for a film so meticulously researched.
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  • The iconic final scene (where the real life Schindlerjuden, accompanied by their children and Emile Schindler, pay their respects to Schindler's grave), almost didn't make it into the movie. Spielberg came up with the idea halfway through, and the studio scrambled to find the 128 survivors and fly them to Germany for the filming.
  • Ralph Fiennes agreed with Embeth Davidtz that in order to make their scene together more realistic and immediate, the Domestic Abuse situation between their characters would not be entirely mimed. Fiennes actually hit Davidtz in the scene where Goeth almost confesses his love for his Jewish maid, Helen Hirsch, and the scene was filmed in just one take. Embeth Davidtz had to wear an ice pack on her face for the rest of the day due to the brutality of the scene.
  • Ralph Fiennes looked so much like the real Amon Goeth in costume that survivor Mila Pfefferberg nearly had a panic attack on seeing him in character for the first time.
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  • Producer Branko Lustig is one of the survivors of the Auschwitz camp.
  • Spielberg took his kids to Poland and the camps for filming. Whilst the eldest was 16, she is almost 10 years older than the second, and the youngest at the time was only 1.
  • Understandably, filming much of the movie was extremely distressing for everyone involved. For part of the shoot, Robin Williams would cheer up the cast and crew every day.

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