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"Schindler's List" as Political Fool Triumphant

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Michael Arkof

Joined: 16 Jun 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:32 pm    Post subject: "Schindler's List" as Political Fool Triumphant Reply with quote #50633

Does Schindler’s List fit the "Fool Triumphant” genre best?

Oscar Schindler's is failed businessman who comes to Warsaw, Poland at the start of WWII with a dream to get rich by taking advantage of the war-time economy. He uses Jews as free labor to attain that goal and until the midpoint is blissfuly unaware that his factory has become a safe haven for Jews trying to escape concentration camps. By the end of Act 2, after witnessing a slew Nazi atrocities and falling in love with the Jews in his factory, he has a change of heart and spends all the money he earned to save the Jews in his factory from being shipped off to Auschwitz.

Schindler is not an innocent who gets dragged into a problem as a character would in Dude With a Problem… he is not trying to join some institution or act against it as a character would in Institutionalized genre… he’s not even the typical hero in the Superhero genre who understands what his power is. Schindler’s doesn’t.

That’s why I think Schindler is a Fool Triumphant.
This genre requires 3 things: 

(1) "fool" who is overlooked and naïve about his own powers. Schindler's real power is to do good. But he doesn't know it yet. He often rails against his Jewish accountant, Stern, who sneaks “unessential” Jews into Schindler's factory. "This is not a safe haven," Schindler yells. "I'm a businessman!" 

(2) An "establishment" that the fool either rises to challenge or is sent in to engage as a "fish out of water." While Schindler's primary goal is not to challenge the establishment, he still accomplishes this point by standing out as a fish out of water at many points, especially when challenging the brutal customs of the Nazi officials with whom he does business with. There is a wonderful look of amazement on every Nazi Commander's face when Schindler kisses a Jewish girl at his birthday and then hoses down cattle cars full of Jews being shipped off to their death. 

(3) "transmutation" that is offered the fool by circumstances that seem divine. Schindler's List fits this point as well. At the end of Act 2 "Divine" intervention comes down from Nazi high command which will result in Schindler losing all his workers-- they are being shipped off to Auschwitz. This is when Schindler reaches deep down, confront himself and decides with the help of Stern to create his now famous list and buy all of the Jews from the concentration camp commander and villain of the film, Amon Göth. He becomes something new and truly surprises not only the Göth, but every Jewish worker in his factory, including Stern who until this very moment refused to have a drink with Schindler... and now he finally does. 

Do you agree?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50634

Using the three traits as described by Blake on p197 of GTTM...

1) A “fool” whose innocence is his strength and whose gentle manner makes him likely to be ignored- by all but a jealous “insider” who knows too well.

I don't see Schindler as any kind of fool. The backstory is one thing, the setup shows him as clever and ballsy in forging relationships and starting his war-profiteering career.

2) An “establishment,” the people or group a fool comes up against, either within his midst, or after being sent to a new place in which he does not fit- at first. Either way, the mismatch promises fireworks!

While there are moments of conflict between Schindler and some Nazis, that's just a natural part of the story, not the story itself. It's not 'Schindler comes up against Nazis.'

3) A “transmutation” in which the fool becomes someone or something new, often including a “name change” that's taken on either by accident or as a disguise.

Schindler's change is a character arc, not a Fool transmutation.

In his first book, Blake says the movie is a DWAP. Sounds like that's based on the events from the Midpoint on, though I'd have to double-check the story to say anything more. (Many stories get shaped in the second half. Two examples come to mind often. 1) The Karate Kid, Sports Fleece, where the tournament is established at the Midpoint and the training is the second half of Act II. 2) Man On Fire, DWAP, where the girl is kidnapped at the Midpoint, followed by Denzel hunting the bad guys.)

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