Schindler's List

Featured In Issue 175, March 2013

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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Language, some sexuality and actuality violence
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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B/W With Color Sequences
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Not Indicated
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Steven Spielberg
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DTS HD Lossless 5.1, DTS 5.1
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Schindler's List is Director Steven Spielberg's Oscar®-winning epic based upon the novel by Thomas Keneally. It is the story of Oskar Schindler (Neeson), a German industrialist who becomes a hero by actively preventing the more than 1,100 Jewish workers in his factory from being sent to their deaths in the Nazi extermination camps. It is a true story of hope and the human spirit, told in an intense, yet lyrical, three-hour-plus portrait of the Holocaust—echoing the Scriptural proverb given to Schindler by his grateful workers: Who saves one life, saves the world. This is the 20th Anniversary Limited Edition. (Gary Reber)

There are two DVDs and a Blu-ray Disc™ included. The first DVD features Part One of the Film. The second DVD features Part Two and the following special features: Voices From The List (SD 01:17:27), a documentary introduced by Steven Spielberg that features interviews with Holocaust survivors who tell their incredible stories; the USC Shoah Foundation Story With Steven Spielberg (SD 04:43), in which founding chairman Spielberg explains why he started the visual history organization; and a featurette About IWitness (SD 03:48). The only special feature on the Blu-ray Disc is BD-Live. An UltraViolet Digital copy is also included.

First reviewed as an anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 DVD in Issue 84, the picture presented Janusz Kaminski's gorgeous Academy Award®-winning black-and-white cinematography, with a beautifully balanced gray scale. Steven Spielberg personally supervised the extensive restoration from the original 35 mm negative. This new remastered 1.85:1 1080p AVC Blu-ray Disc is even more stunning as a cinematic black-and-white picture. (The few color sequences offer warm, nicely balanced hues.) Deep blacks, bright whites, and an excellent gradation of visual information between the two extremes make this picture appear striking. Images are sharp and detailed, with nicely rendered textures and definition. Film grain inherent in the source element is barely noticed, and then mostly in lighter scenes. The imagery is absolutely pristine, with noise reduction applied judiciously with the utmost care. Resolution is impressive, with fine textures revealed throughout. This is a wonderful epic definitive presentation of this classic motion picture. A cinematic masterpiece! (Gary Reber)

The repurposed DTS-HD Master Audio™ is superior in sound quality throughout compared to the DTS® Digital Surround™ version previously reviewed. Spielberg also personally supervised the remastering, with particular attention paid to the nuanced sound elements. The result is an even more chilling and emotional sonic experience. In Issue 84 Jeffrey Kern wrote the sound review, which is re-published here: One of the joys of working at Widescreen Review as Associate Editor and DVD Sound Quality Reviewer is being able to have the honored opportunity to critique and discuss certain films that make a difference and mean something. Schindler's List is, of course, one of those films. Someone said years ago, and I can't remember who, that when you watch a movie in the safe, secure, and comfortable confines of your home theatre—and because of your heightened relaxed state—the walls that are built up around your subconscious melt away much easier, making you more susceptible to the full range of emotional states that the filmgoing experience can offer. The resulting effect, and the experience that transpires as you partake in this exercise, is much more powerful than the same experience you would have in a large, cold, and impersonal cinema multiplex. The same can be said here in regards to this film that's directed by Steven Spielberg. Schindler's List is a film that touches upon some of the most basic human feelings and instincts like power, family, love, loss, persecution, survival, religion, and community. To pull off the full emotional effect of a film as important as this one is, it takes a very powerful and poignant soundtrack to musically move those internal emotions along while your mind perceives and translates the physical action on-screen. Both sides of the mental/emotional equation must be equal to break down those subconscious walls and transport you into the experiences and guttural human feelings that a powerful film like this can provide. Schindler's List on DVD easily achieves that balance in the home theatre environment. Both the Dolby® Digital and DTS Digital Surround soundtracks provide more than ample emotional substance through exemplary fidelity and very neutral tonality to make this film on DVD an emotionally powerful experience. The front center channel accurately and precisely reproduces dialogue and voices. This is especially apparent in the very difficult-to-record outdoor scenes. The subtle vocal reflections and reverberations shine in these very hectic scenes. The front three screen channels house most of the audio activity, with the surrounds adding excellent atmosphere and ambience to the presentation. John Williams' beautiful, soulful, and sometimes haunting musical composition is one of the best movie scores you'll ever hear. The tender violin and piano melodies within his sweeping orchestral work is much more emotionally powerful in the home theatre environment than that during what was experienced when the film was in the theatre during its original theatrical release. In the home environment this outstanding score reaches you on a very personal level and electrifies the home surround sound landscape. Williams' score is so emotionally moving and wonderfully layered and textured musically that it's no wonder he won the 1994 Academy Award® for Original Score for his work on this film. Although this is a mostly quiet and subtle sound mix, more activity from the LFE channel would have been preferable. The use of the LFE channel disappoints a bit as there is minimal, albeit adequate, low-bass activity during the first half. It is not really until second half that one hears any sort of substantial low end to the soundtrack. There are many times when some powerful and forceful .1 LFE channel activity could have added so much more dynamic range to the audio presentation, especially during the first half. The one area where more low-end extension would have been so much more effective is during the scenes in the "Liquidation Of The Warsaw Ghetto." There appears to be a "virtual" bass presence from the normal low-end audio range of the soundtrack coming from the front three loudspeakers, but there is no pronounced subwoofer activity to accentuate the brutal happenings onscreen in an audio context. Our Dorrough Loudness Monitor never showed any activity of the LFE channel during these scenes. The lack of substantive bass extension is my only critical complaint in regards to the makeup of the overall soundtrack. This fault doesn't really take away from the final rating of the soundtrack, but the addition of more low-end bass extension in some key areas would have been more welcome. In regards to the comparison between the two encoded digital audio formats, the DTS version presents a more open, detailed, better channel separation, and refined Holosonic® performance than that of the Dolby Digital version. This soundtrack really is wonderful to hear and experience, as it does so many things so wel