Schindler's List ★★★★★

I may have been more anxious about this re-watch more than any other, because it's so connected to my original theatrical viewing, which was one of the most emotionally wrenching experiences I've ever had in a theater. And even though I watched it once subsequently, it was still one of those movies where it feels like your reaction reflects on your character. What if it just wasn't that good?
It's actually even better.
It feels odd to use the word "beautiful" to describe this movie, maybe even disrespectful given some of the things it portrays. But Janusz Kaminski's cinematography is one of the more remarkable examples of the art I've ever seen, lit with such precision and dramatic effect. And this may also feature some of Spielberg's greatest individual shot compositions, like the magnificent image of Schindler in shadow at the top of the stairs, silently judging whether a woman who has come to petition him is attractive enough to warrant his attention. It's breathtaking, both when it's shocking and simply when it's cinema.
And Fiennes' performance. I know this was the first thing I'd ever seen him in, and it still blows my mind.
Mostly, I'm staggered by the care with which Spielberg manages to take a story about the slaughter of millions and make it deeply, profoundly individual and personal. This was about giving a horrifying statistic something more real. He gave them names, names that they had to repeat as they were moved, herded, catalogued and treated, in the words of one Nazi, like "units." I've complained for years about fact-based movies that show the real people at the end, but the way Spielberg does it here brings me to tears every time. I feel more human at the end. What more can I ask art to do?