A German industrialist, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), becomes virtuous enough to start saving the lives of captured Jews in Steven Spielberg‘s Schindler’s List, from 1993. The man who, in response to the film, observed that the Holocaust was not about salvation but rather annihilation was right. Also true, however, is that the film effectively shows people—the Jews—being sucked into a sphere of nonstop human destructiveness; the obliteration of lives, yes.

Schindler’s List has its flaws but, too, it offers some staggering scenes. Spielberg is a true and disturbing artist here, as when a gunshot is heard before the tracking camera exposes the dead body of a Jewish boy whom, shocked, we believe had been pardoned by the monstrous Nazi, Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes). Such scenes of Auschwitz as that of the gathering of women at a site where they might be gassed and a melee involving children of these women are hair-raising and dramatically momentous.

Neeson was displeased with his performance as Schindler, claiming he failed to own the role. Spielberg’s and screenwriter Steven Zaillian’s material owns the movie.