How The Cast Of Schindler’s List Dealt With The Constant Darkness Of The Film

Spielberg began filming “Schindler’s List” on March 1, 1993 in Krakow, Poland. It’s notable that Spielberg wrapped production on “Jurassic Park” in late November of 1992, giving him only five months to get his next film started. Both films were released in ’93. Some enterprising archivists have sought out and located the shooting locations used for “Schindler’s List,” almost all of them in or around Krakow. In Franciszek Palowski’s 1998 book “The Making of Schindler’s List: Behind the Scenes of an Epic Film,” it is explained that the concentration camps were constructed from scratch, as the actual camps were now too close to modern cities. 

The entire city, it would seem, was temporarily devoted to the war. The film’s shooting schedule luckily accommodated for gatherings in the Krakow hotel lobby for drinks and gentle carousal. Not a party, mind you, but gentle conversation. A way to reconnect with humanity. The cast would talk to each other, as they would to actual Holocaust survivors, appreciating life. 

Richardson describes an encounter that actor Ben Kingsley, who play Itzhak Stern in “List,” had with one of said survivors. She leaned over to give him a kiss, knocking over his wine glass. Kingsley, evidently, was unperturbed. “A kiss is still a kiss, even though it spills wine all over you,” he said. Liam Neeson, who played Schindler, joined the crowd with his visiting wife Natasha Richardson. 

John H. Richardson evokes a warm, gorgeous, happy atmosphere, heavy with cigarette smoke and alcohol. “We go out in the evenings and listen to loud music and eat and drink and hug each other,” Kingsley was quoted as saying, “because at the end of a day in hell you treasure life and you treasure your loved ones.” 

That’s lovely.

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