Steven Spielberg Was Terrified People Wouldn’t Believe ‘Schindler’s List’ Was a True Story

Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. He’s known for exquisitely shot movies such as Jaws and Saving Private Ryan. However, Spielberg’s initially unexpected emotional intensity in Schindler’s List is not to be forgotten. He once explained how nervous he was during production that audiences wouldn’t believe that Schindler’s List was a true story.

What is ‘Schindler’s List’ about?

'Schindler's List' filmmaker Steven Spielberg speaking into a microphone
Steven Spielberg | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Schindler’s List follows a German industrialist named Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson). He witnesses the Nazi’s horrendous treatment of Jewish people. Oskar works to save the lives of his Jewish workforce during World War II, but he risks his own life in the process.

Spielberg’s drama also stars Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, among others. The movie is shot in black-and-white with emphasis created via selective use of color. Spielberg approached Schindler’s List like a documentary and wanted to explore its subject matter with a special touch and respect. Jewish communities voiced how meaningful the movie was.

How Steven Spielberg made ‘Schindler’s List’ while cognizant that people might not believe it’s a true story

Variety covered Tribeca Film Festival’s retrospective screening of Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. The event marked the first time that the cast has seen the movie in 25 years, making it a particularly special event. Spielberg talked on the panel about some behind-the-scenes facts, including his fear that some moviegoers might question the movie’s historical accuracies.

Spielberg recognized that audiences expect a certain style and content from him. However, Schindler’s List delivers an emotional impact that differs from any of his prior films. His critics point to the fact that his movies come from Hollywood studios. Spielberg said, “I’m so known for films that are nothing like this.”

The Schindler’s List filmmaker explained that after about the three-quarter mark of filming, he was terrified that people wouldn’t think that the movie was a true story. However, many people still search for the movie’s historical accuracies. Spielberg wanted people within the Jewish community to understand the gravitas of the story, so he took additional steps to ensure that.

“That was a desperate attempt by me to find validation from the survivor community, to be able to certify that what we had done was credible,” Spielberg said.

7 Academy Awards later

Schindler’s List is one of the top-rated movies on IMDb, and for good reason. The movie won 7 of its 12 Oscar nominations. Schindler’s List went down in history as 1994’s Best Picture winner. Film schools still teach Spielberg’s Schindler’s List to students to learn from and admire the film. Many modern filmmakers try to emulate his direction style.

The film remains on many best films of all time lists. Additionally, the Library of Congress was called “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress in 2004. Schindler’s List continues to touch many lives as it recounts crucial historical storytelling.

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