The making of “Schindler’s List,” Steven Spielberg’s operatic examination of the Holocaust and the human spirit, was by many of the subsequent accounts of those involved as much an exercise in painful reflection for the cast and crew as it was one of film production. The anecdotal evidence of its emotional toll litters Hollywood lore. Actors broke down during takes; Spielberg’s wife and children accompanied him daily on set; the director watched “Seinfeld” to try and keep his spirits up, and the actor Robin Williams was on the phone every two weeks for comic relief. The director forewent a salary for the picture, regarding any profit as constituting “blood money.”
Twenty years on, one of the youngest inhabitants of Spielberg’s Kraków has come forward with her reflections on what was a formative experience of her early life. Oliwia Dabrowska was three years old when she played the Girl In The Red Coat, a part symbolic of a doomed youth which was based on a real-life child of the ghetto, also known for the color of her coat. Inevitably, the young actress had been ignorant of the harrowing significance of the film at the time, and promised her director that she would refrain from viewing it until she turned 18.
In an interview with The Times, however, she recalls watching “Schindler’s List” prematurely, against the advice of Mr. Spielberg, at the age of 11. “I was horrified,” she told the paper, “[I was] sure that I didn’t want to watch [it] ever again in my life… I was ashamed of being in the movie and angry with my mother and father when they told anyone about the part. People said: “‘It must be so important to you, you must know so much about the Holocaust.’ I was frustrated by it all.”
The passing of years, however, has brought with it a sense of catharsis for Dabrowska. She did indeed watch “Schindler’s List” again at the age of 18 and, now 23 and studying for her degree, she looks upon the picture as something to be “proud of.” “Spielberg was right,” she says, “I had to grow up to watch the film.” “Schindler’s List,” predicted to be a flop by Spielberg, went on to win seven Oscars and has since been regarded with almost unanimous admiration. Its 20th anniversary limited edition DVD and Blu-ray will be released on March 5th. [via Daily Mail]