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Schindler's List

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Schindler's List Movie Poster Image
Accurate, heartbreaking masterpiece about the Holocaust.
  • R
  • 1993
  • 196 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 83 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The film shows the best and worst of human nature -- psychotic mass murder and altruistic saving of lives.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The film follows Schindler's transformation from greedy war profiteer to humanitarian who eventually saves the lives of 1,100 people destined for death at Auschwitz. He learns and demonstrates compassion, integrity, and perseverance.


Depictions of point-blank shootings, murders, beatings, and mass murders. A man kisses a woman against her will.


A few scenes of nakedness associated with sex (bare female breasts, thrusting and moaning), but many other scenes show concentration camp members naked in non-sexual contexts (full-frontal nudity of Jewish prisoners in the shower, when they are being stripped and examined, etc.). 


Anti-Semitic epithets. "F--k," "s--t," "bitch," "damn," "ass."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The Nazi commander is often drunk. Schindler smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Schindler's List is a brutal, emotionally devastating three-hour drama that won several Oscars and has a powerful message about the human spirit -- but it pulls absolutely no punches when depicting the Holocaust. There are arbitrary murders and mass killings, Nazi commanders compare Jews to rats, children are killed, and there are scenes of shocking, grisly violence. There's also plenty of smoking and drinking, and several scenes of nakedness. In two of them, a woman is naked from the waist up in bed and in sexual situations. But in the rest, nakedness is used to humiliate and harass Jewish residents of concentration camps. There's full-frontal nudity of Jewish prisoners in the shower, when they are being stripped and examined, etc. There are anti-Semitic epithets as well as words such as "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "damn," and "ass."

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNyxe Sceptara November 8, 2019

Depressing and brutal, but overall heart touching

This movie was amazing and easily makes my list of favorite movies. It wasn't as violent as I expected it to be, for a movie about the holocaust, anyway. T... Continue reading
Adult Written byKristaann September 12, 2019

Not a movie for kids

After hearing my sister state she had my 14 and 16 year old niece and nephew watch this to learn about empathy I sickenly say and watched it. It is educational... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byhayal12 October 1, 2016

Moving, violent and unforgettable

"Schindler's List" has often been hailed as Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, and no wonder - the film depicts a spectrum of human emotions, a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byskwunkel May 24, 2015

What's the story?

In SCHINDLER'S LIST, Steven Spielberg displays the virtuosity of a great documentary film maker: The Holocaust, in which six million Jews, political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, and gays were killed, is too vast and too atrocious to fathom. So Spielberg searches history for the one true story that will make it comprehensible. He gives us Czechoslovakian businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a grandiose, insinuating businessman bent on making a successful business on the backs of Jews who are robbed of their homes, jobs, property, and, many, their lives. The film follows Schindler's transformation from greedy war profiteer to humanitarian who eventually saves the lives of 1,100 people destined for death at Auschwitz. But there are two main characters in this film. If one is Schindler, the other, undoubtedly, is the Holocaust itself. Spielberg gives us the Holocaust in the names of the Schindler Jews, and uses real-life stories to make it real. We get Ihtzak Stern (played with quiet rage and dignity by Ben Kingsley), the Jewish accountant who runs Schindler's manufacturing plant. We get Helen Hirsch (Embeth Davidtz), the Jewish woman who serves as a Nazi commander's (played with icy sadism by Ralph Fiennes) maid and the object of his twisted adoration. We get, as the title implies, a list of people, of faces, of stories that make the atrocities of World War II real.

Is it any good?

There are few films more powerful and important than this 1993 winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, but that's not why you should watch this film. Watch it for the brilliant storytelling, great acting, and its message that one person can make a difference in the face of evil.

While Schindler's List is a brilliant film, its three-plus hour running time and true-to-life grisly violence make it mostly a film for adults. If you have a particularly mature teen, share this film with him and talk about it afterward. Families that watch the film may want to watch the bonus features on the real-life experiences of the Schindler Jews and on the Survivors of the Shoah Foundation. The film may prompt a discussion of genocide elsewhere in the world and what individuals can do to help put an end to it. It may also prompt a visit to a museum of tolerance or the Holocaust Museum.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their reaction to Schindler's List's  emotionally difficult material. Do you believe the atrocities depicted here can happen again? Why or why not?

  • Families may want to watch additional DVDs produced by the Survivors of the Shoah Foundation designed to help kids understand and confront bias.

  • Discuss other ways in which individuals make a difference.

  • How do the characters in Schindler's List demonstrate compassion, integrity, and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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