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Similarities between the Films 'The Mission' and 'Schindler's List'

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The two excellent works of cinematography: ‘The Mission’ and ‘Schindler’s List’ differ immensely in terms of the theme, time frame, and location. At the same time, they encompass a similar take on depicting the human experience in a fight for rights and freedom. Moreover, they both encounter a religious/spiritual aspect that is engraved into the culture and people. Not to mention, both films are based on authentic historical events. In an extremely objective way, they depict events that took place at the time period, as well as the political relations that prevailed at the time. The two movies can be found relatable to each other on many levels.

‘The Mission’ is an attempt to portray the process of Christianization in South America. Representatives of the Jesuit order come to the Guarani Indians to convey Christian teachings and that become a way of life for them. They not only give a new faith, but also teach them new ways of cultivating land. They gain enormous authority over the Indians. And this does not comply with the rulers of Portugal and Spain, who would most likely see the Indians as their slaves. In a battle over the mission, the ‘wild’ Indians are confronted by the ‘civilized’ white men. In defense of the mission, a whole tribe dies – men, women, children. Only a handful of children are saved and swim up the river in search of a better life. However, as the beautiful waterfalls, cascades and tropical forests of South America give the impression of ‘paradise on earth’, the events shown in the film are not beautiful, they are the opposite of breathtaking landscapes. The scenes shown in the movie are easy to watch. Especially death is presented very realistically. The director shows the unusual aggression of the ‘civilized’ white people. And it contrasts very clearly with the beauty of nature. After watching the film, we realize how insensitive the church was to humanity when it came down to acquisition of land and influence.

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‘The Mission’ forces to reflect, as it demonstrates extremely different faces of the Church from dedicated missionaries to experienced, self-guided politicians. It also makes one think about faith and how best intentions and goals are often destroyed by a brutal reality. Contrary to appearances, it is also a beautiful story about love, love of God, and brotherhood.

‘Schindler’s List’ can be found very similar in this regard, while being a war drama. This is a fact-based movie telling the story of Oskar Schindler, a German entrepreneur. The film touches upon the subject of the holocaust and presents the attitude of Germans dealing with Jewish affairs in Poland, also showing Polish-Jewish relations at that time. In ‘Schindler’s List’ we can learn about all stages of the extermination process of the Jewish population. Shortly after the occupation of Poland, various restrictions and bans had been introduced to make it more difficult for Jews to live their everyday lives. Jews then were expelled from their apartments and ordered to take only the most necessary things. They were moved to specially designated districts – ghettos. Those presented closed districts and all those who dared to escape from them were immediately sentenced to death. Equally severe punishments were provided for people helping Jews. During the Holocaust, about eighty-five percent of the Jewish population of Central Europe was annihilated, along with their achievements and culture. ‘Schindler’s List’ beautifully shows the story of a man who devoted himself to saving the lives of others. Spielberg well demonstrated the development of the Third Reich policy towards Jews and showed its effects: 5-7 million killed, cultural losses and emotional devastation for generations to come. The film in the role of a documentary allows the viewer to better understand and even somewhat ‘feel’ the issue. However, I think that nothing, even the most shocking historical records are able to give away what was really going on and what those inside the concentration camps felt. In this regard, ‘Schindler’s List’ is an excellent history lesson. It gives the opportunity to take a different look at times of war and shows the attitude of a man who opposed fascism and risks his life to save people who were labeled by the Nazis as ‘nothing’. It makes you want to reflect on the value of human life.

The similarities and differences shown play equally important roles in both forms because they have a significant impact on the recipient’s attitude to the events presented and the tragedy that has occurred. In this regard, both films demonstrate the role of a protagonist, who takes over the innocent inhabitants of a place they find of use. Whether through forcing upon Christianization or conducting mass extermination. The Indians may be compared to the Polish Jews, which were given orders, had restrictions and incompliance would result in punishment or even death. Without any respect or consideration for their already existent culture, religion, values, language. It is called oppression and in both of the cases it took on a very serious character. In both films, only a handful had been saved and continued in search of a batter life, however with emotional baggage and scars that have not disappeared for centuries after.

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Similarities between the Films ‘The Mission’ and ‘Schindler’s List’. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from
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