Itzak SternThis is a featured page

Stern - Schindler's List

Itzhak Stern, is a man who was always good and he is contrasted with Schindler at the start of the film. Stern is seen as the architect of the campaign to save the Jews by making them 'essential workers' .He is bright, proud, and determined and he brings out the moral side of Schindler. It is Stern’s attitude toward Schindler that reflects Schindler’s change throughout the film.
Stern recognises immediately Schindler’s callousness and greed. Early on, he expresses disdain for Schindler and he shows controlled outrage at his original offer to have Stern run the factory and secure Jewish investors. He refuses to drink with Schindler, making clear he does not approve of Schindler’s morals. We see Stern’s attitude soften as Schindler becomes an active participant in saving the Schindlerjuden, and he eventually sees the good in his employer. The viewer knows that when he finally does have a drink with Schindler when the two say good-bye after they learn of the closing of the Plaszów labour camp that Stern will almost certainly be sent to his death. By accepting a drink, Stern demonstrates his respect for Schindler, and Schindler accepts the finality of Stern’s likely fate.
Stern, like Schindler, is an opportunist, and he is the brains behind the rescue of the Schindlerjuden. Stern is the one who discovers a way to channel his essentially forced labour for Schindler into a way to help his fellow Jews. Schindler does no work, leaving Stern to run the factory, and Stern immediately begins to give factory jobs to Jews who otherwise would be deemed “non-essential” and would most likely be killed. He forges documents to make teachers and intellectuals appear to be experienced machinists and factory workers. Stern’s motivation—to help his people—is very clear. Actor Ben Kingsley plays him as a proud man with a mission and a palpable desperation to help all those he can. We see him as almost saintly. These traits are absent from Schindler, the film’s protagonist and hero, until late in the film. Although Schindler ultimately makes the rescue possible by using his connections and monetary resources, Stern plays just as large a role by driving Schindler gently from behind the scenes. Stern sets the wheels in motion, making the factory a haven for the Kraków Jews before Schindler even notices what is occurring.This makes it clear to the viewer that Stern is the conscience of humanity. His eloquent words often sum up key themes in the film. For instance in his final, moving scene with Schindler he says "Whoever saves one life saves the world entire." Stern understands Schindler's sacrifice and we see the two characters in balance, both essential to the larger message of the film.

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