I honestly believe that if you see just one WWII/Holocaust movie in your life, it must be this one. SCHINDLER'S LIST is a heartwrenching, brutal, yet ultimately uplifting movie that is an essential piece of entertainment for all adults to see. Everyone MUST see it at least once in their lives. It's a spectacularly powerful and admirable movie; one that will doubtless keep the Holocaust in the memory of generations to come. If you are over seventeen and reading this (and haven't seen this movie), watch it as soon as possible.
However, now we get to the difficult question. Should kids see it? I believe that the answer is a strong "yes." First off, when kids are so often desensitized to violence and war, this movie will show them the brutal realities and consequences of murder and genocide, and I guarantee it will change their viewpoint forever. Also, in an age when so many people make light of the Holocaust or even deny that it ever happened, this movie is a brave tribute to the time period. It is, in a sense, a living memorial to Holocaust victims that should be viewed anew by every generation.
However, no one who has seen this movie can deny that it isn't just your average R-rated movie. This film is an "experience" that has the potential to change your child forever, in a positive or negative way. Normally I don't agree with people who speak of movies "damaging" children's psyches, but if this movie is shown to a child at too young of an age, it could scar them (no exaggeration). The violence in the film is almost unbearable to watch, and the B&W cinematography doesn't make it any less graphic. There is at least a good thirty minutes straight of the film that is devoted to showing the slaughter of innocent victims. A man and his dying wife are shot point blank, with blood splatter and extremely graphic spurts. When a man is shot through the head, gore spatters and you see the back of his head rip open. Children are also victims. We see children and their parents being torn apart or killed by Nazi officers, and the camera doesn't flinch. I'm not a particularly sensitive movie-goer, but I was bawling through at least an hour of this movie. The violence is so realistic and disturbing, even for adults. In addition, you see a naked man and woman having sex (waists up, you see the outline of her breasts for less then a minute, but no explicit nudity, since they are interrupted). Two topless women are seen in bed, but neither in a sexual context(in one, she is just sleeping, and in the other, her lover is executing Jews right outside of the bedroom and the scene is terrifying as opposed to sexual). Full nudity of both men and women is seen in a violent, concentration camp context. The "f" word is used a few times, but in all honesty, that should be the least of your concerns when deciding whether or not to let your kid see this movie.
In short, SCHINDLER'S LIST is an amazing achievement in film. Please view it alone before showing it to your kid, or watch it with them and discuss it with them. I don't believe in editing out the more explicit parts; just wait until your child can watch the whole movie and get the full impact of it. Afterwards: Discuss, discuss, discuss! That's what this movie was made for.