THURSDAY 27th January is the annual Holocaust Memorial Day. This is the international day in which we particularly remember the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. The day also commemorates the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution and in the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The film Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg, is based on the book, Schindler’s Ark, and recounts the horrors of the Nazi persecution. The film follows Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved over 1,200, mostly Polish-Jewish refugees, from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II. Despite first watching this film over 25 years ago, I can still clearly remember where I watched it and my feelings as I left the cinema. I cannot recall any other film that has had such an impact on me; it is a film that everyone should see.

The link to our ‘Musical Musing’ is to highlight the power music has to support and enhance the cinematic experience. John Williams’ score for the soundtrack of the film is integral to the mood and message of the film. One of the many memorable and heart-breaking scenes is of the young girl in the red coat, walking alone in the crowd as the ghetto in Krakow is liquidated by the Nazis in March 1943. The background music is from a famous Jewish folk song called Oyfn Pripetchik (‘On the Cooking Stove’) and it is sung by a children’s choir. It is a song that was often sung by Spielberg’s grandmother to her grandchildren.

John Williams’ ‘Theme from Schindler’s List’ is the most memorable piece of music in the film. The great violinist Itzhak Perlman was brought in to play this heart-breaking melody. Itzhak Perlman was amazed at the authenticity of John Williams’ sound, evoking as he does, the traditional Jewish music of central Europe. The melody is woven in throughout the film, and John Williams deservedly won a fifth Oscar for Best Original Score.

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