Comparison Of The Films Schindler’s List And Selma

The comparison between these two films can become a passionate one depending on each person’s preference which can mean more to any other person. To set side by side the films Schindler’s List and Selma is rather complicated because they are two different stories. Furthermore, they did their best to explain their selves to us. The two most compelling actions demonstrated in Schindler’s List and Selma is that as a society they must work together and put their differences aside for the better. Schindler’s List is one of those films that will always make anyone heart feel as if it is in one’s throat. That is because it is a film where a businessman Oskar Schindler arrives in Krakow in 1939 and is ready to make his fortune from World War II, which has just begun. Soon, after joining the Nazis mainly for political practicality he fills his factory with Jews for a practical reason. When Schindler found that the Nazis were killing the Jews in the ghetto of Krakow, he manages to get the Jews in his factory protected in order to keep it open. He soon realizes that by doing that he is saving the life of the Jews. He manages to make it seem like if it was his own kind of concentration camp but without all the violence that lead to the killing and hurting others just because of their race.

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Selma is similar yet different because it shows people fighting for the right to vote in a world where they were nobodies because of their race. Basically, the film is about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 how it legally desegregated the South but still the discrimination towards the “colored” still existed and made it difficult for them to register to vote. It shows how in the year 1965 the city of Alabama the protests became a battle in the exchange for suffrage. In the face of the violence of the other side the main actor and his followers throughout the film fought till their efforts came to an end successfully and the president signed the Voting Right Act of 1965. As of now both films might not sound compatible, but they are because both fought in their own way. One fought for the lives of others without letting himself be discovered and made it seems as for it was for his advantage to grow his fortune. The other fought for his people of the south so they can be treated just like any other American and have the right to vote. Both in a world that discriminated against them.

How do both films compare, lets investigate both. First, in the film Schindler’s List it starts with the attacks on Jews and when they were being taken out of their homes and there is a young lady screaming “Goodbye Jews” repeating it various times. Right from the get-go you see the racism against the Jews. In Selma because of there race even though segregation had ended there they were not treated equal. A lady shows up to an office to sign up to vote and the man on the trouble window tested her to see if he would give her that right. He asks her “Recite the Constitution preamble”, She begins reciting, “We the people of the United States”; when he sees she knows it he then proceeds to ask her “How many county judges in Alabama?” she then answers “sixty-seven” and then he said “name them” and because she could not, he denied her -her right to register and vote. How does this make them similar; well that is because it demonstrates the way these people were being treated, it was their way of segregating these people and hurting them. Schindler’s List the Austrian SS functionary said, “For six centuries there have been Jewish Krakow. Think about that. By this evening, these six centuries are a rumor. They never happened. Today is history”. Then continuing in the film Selma, the main actor said, “They say to us that the local white leadership use their power to keep us away from the ballot box and keep us voiceless”. The message they both give is that because of the words spoken by white leader who believe are better than other races can make decisions for them without caring about the pain and suffering they are going through. Both films show the struggle and the beauty of it all.

The beauty of struggle of both films is that no one will ever forget that part of history. History comes from the pain and suffering of others. It is all for the greater good, many lives were lost but and despite all the obstacles they had to face in the end it helped terminate that time of suffering. They gained their freedom and it was all for the best and a better future. In the film, Selma, the main actor said, “We’re doing the living and you’ve done the dying, dear brother, we will not let your sacrifice pass in vain, dear brother”. What a beautiful way to put into words and give strength to the people to keep fighting, to hold on because there is so much more to look forward too. As mentioned in the film Schindler’s List, the main actor says to the Austrian functionary, “Control is power. Power is when we have every justification to kill and we don’t”, the Austrian functionary answers, “You think that is power?”, the main actor responds to him with an example and say, “That’s what the emperors had. A man stole something […] he’s brought in before the emperor […] he begs for mercy; He knows he is going to die. And the emperor pardons him”. What is said here is that even though someone has done something that can cause then to be punished, one should put their emotions aside and sacrifice those feeling for the better. Both films talk and show the violence that leads to the death of others; these things are mentioned for the purpose of the greater good, to get better outcomes. To sacrifice and make good decisions that even though it hurts people that it will not things happen in vain and without reason. The characters have a really hard time because they feel the pressure of the people. In one they are expected to fight till they get what they want. In the other the main actor is fighting to save the lives of others.

Lives were being lost in both films even though lots of people were tired they kept on pushing and hoping for a higher quality of life and for all the atrocious treatment to their kind to end. As mentioned in the beginning of the film Selma, the main actor said, “I accept this honor for our lost ones, whose death pave our path and for the 20 million negro men and women motivated by dignity and disdain for hopelessness”. The meaning of this is that yes, they have been through a rough path in life, in order to obtain the right to vote. Although it has been rough and having people pass it was them who did us a great sacrifice in order to get where they should be. Not being treated as if they are any less, they matter as well. Going on to Schindler’s List the main actor says to the Jew, “Someday, this is all going to end, you know, we will have a drink then” the Jew responds, “I think I better have it now”. The main actor was trying to give the Jew hope, that even though the path has been outrageous by all the bloodshed of his people it was eventually going to come to its end. Obviously, the Jew saw no future because of all the bloodshed so that is why he decided to take that drink now instead of later because his future was uncertain. The point is that even though the future seems unclear, that there is more to hold out for because you never know what can happen, eventually there will be a countless amount of endless hope. Both films give hope to others for a better future, that the bad conditions will end, either it being when the opposition gets tired or just have no other option then to stop the violence and bloodshed of people who have sacrificed a lot for a good outcome for the good of others.

Both films discuss the way they fought for what they believe in, despite one film being of fighting for the right to vote and the other film being that even though he used the Jews for his benefit to build a fortune he realizes that he is fighting in his own way to save the lives of Jews and in the end because of the appreciations the Jews have toward him gets to him and wishes he could have saved even more. For instance, the film Schindler’s List it is said, “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire […] There will be generations because of what you did […] You did so much”. The Jews were grateful that the main actor took them in and saved them they know he used them but never intended to hurt them. He wished at the end he could save more, his affliction crippled throughout everyone body because he did so much. To move ahead, in the film Selma the main actor said, “We heard them say we’d never make it here. We heard them say they’d stop us, if it was the last thing they did. We heard them say we don’t deserve to be here. But today, we stand as Americans”. This a great example on how hard work pays off that all the commitment and energy made for a stronger opposition. That the others never had a chance against their discriminatory actions toward their community. The two films here showed what the non-discriminatory people did for the salvation and the rights the innocent people had. It was not fair in Selma how the “people of color” could not vote but in the end their hard work payed off despite it being a rough path. In Schindler’s List the oppression the Jews went through the main actor managed to save in between one thousand one hundred one Jews. What greater justice than to help them live.

In conclusion, both films showed how the main actors were undeterred despite the opposition. The idea of them were to end the struggle and rough path the Jews and the colored faced because of that hate toward them. They did not want their destiny to be determined for them, but they wanted to determine their own destiny. They wanted the generations to succeed and go on in life, only look forward despite all the bloodshed because of the opposition. What greater joy is to help those in need of help in the face of death because of the racist who did not want to let them vote or in the face of the bloodshed just because they did not like the Jews and wanted them gone. In the end both films show how the roughest road always has a pleasant ending.

Work Cited

  1. Spielberg, Steven, director. Schindler’s List. Universal, 2004.
  2. DuVernay, Ava, director. Selma. Cloud Eight Films, 2014.
14 May 2020

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