TIL Stanley Kubrick, when told that Schindler's List was a good representation of the Holocaust, replied "Think that's about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn't it? The Holocaust is about 6 million people who get killed. Schindler's List is about 600 who don't."

TIL Stanley Kubrick, when told that Schindler's List was a good representation of the Holocaust, ...

11 million, Stanley. Non-jews are people too.

I just looked that up thinking that was a very high number. Jesus ... TIL 60-80 million people died in that war.

Three to four goddamn Australias wiped out.

That's a lot of Australias.

In 1980, he told the author Michael Herr that what he wanted most was to make a film about the Holocaust, “but good luck in putting all that into a two-hour movie.” Frederic Raphael, who co-authored the screenplay for “Eyes Wide Shut,” recalls Kubrick questioning whether a film truly can represent the Holocaust in its entirety. After Raphael suggested “Schindler’s List,” Kubrick replied, “Think that’s about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn’t it? The Holocaust is about 6 million people who get killed. ‘Schindler’s List’ is about 600 who don’t. Anything else?”


Every time I see this posted on reddit it gets understood that Kubrick was criticizing the movie. I don't believe he is at all. I believe he's just stating a fact. Schindler's List is not about the Holocaust any more than Full Metal Jacket is about Vietnam. It takes place during the event, shows some of what people went through, but it was never intended to encompass or otherwise be "about" that event in general. The movie isn't called The Holocaust, it's called Schindler's List, it's not about The Holocaust, it's about the lives that Schindler helped save. I'm sure if you asked Spielberg, he'd agree with Kubrick. Kubrick (and Spielberg as well) probably just didn't like people referring to the movie as a "Holocaust" movie or "about the Holocaust* or a "good representation of the Holocaust" because it is not and was never intended to be.

Fuck that Frederic guy; he wrote a book right after Kubrick died called Eyes Wide Open where he claimed to be the genius behind Kubrick's last film, and described the director as a paranoid maniac. He parroted the rumors about Kubrick not being driven over 35mph and never wanting to fly. Thing is, he only worked with Kubrick via fax machine, and much of the film was reworked in principal photography anyway. He basically wrote the book to capitalize on a famous director's death because he wouldn't get a fight from the family.

Just when the rest of the world was thinking one was more than enough.

Bogans everywhere...

Or it could be a great moral tale on how a few people can save hundreds of lives when success seems so far away.

Thing I don't get about his comment is that Shindler's List depicted lots and lots of Jews getting killed as well - literally mountains of dead people if memory serves. It's not like you watched it and came out thinking the holocaust wasn't all that bad.

You need to make a movie that people are going to watch, so you sprinkle in some hope amongst the horror.

Thank you. It makes me so angry that people forget about the other millions of people that were killed. Yes, Jews were the majority, but you can't forget that Hitler hated a lot of different people.

It's weird that the other ethnic groups never get blockbuster movies, and we only hear about the Jews.

Because of the dramatic effect it had on the Jewish population. 2/3rds of Jews in Europe were killed, or roughly 40% of the worldwide Jewish population. While hundreds of thousands or even millions of Romani, Ukrainians, Poles, among other ethnic and social groups, were targeted in addition to the Jews, they weren't at comparable percents. Considering that a core goal of the Nazis was the systematic wiping out of "inferior races", it makes sense that the group most effected would be central to the story.

Especially when they were almost entirely non-combatants, rounded up by the aggressor, rather than civilian casualties in battle. For comparison, though 20 million Soviets died, over half were in the military, most civilians died as a result of battles (not being rounded up and slaughtered), and there were over 100 million people in Russia along pre-WWII.

Jews should certainly not be the only group that is paid mind, in the present or in the history books. But it is not surprising that they would be focused on and prioritized when talking about WWII.

Yeah but the movie was ABOUT the few who survived. It certainly showed mountains of bodies but it wasn't about the Holocaust in general or the act of genocide itself. The movie was about Schindler and the survivors.

You need to make a movie that people are going to watch, so you sprinkle in some hope amongst the horror.

That's why Kubrick was questioning if it could be done. Schindler's List was great but it didn't represent the holocaust in its entirety. "Its entirety" would be like 1:55:30 of people lining up to be killed, 4 minutes of people being surprise killed and the last 30 seconds being one guy managing to survive only because the queue for the gas chamber was so long, the death camp is liberated before he gets to the front. This guy could be the sprinkle of hope. Then...credits.

EDIT: Added "Its entirety" segment.

Half of those are Russians. Of those Russians, half are civilians. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties

Kubrick seems to be saying that there's no way to distill the totality of the Holocaust down to 120 minutes. When Schindler's List is pitched, he replies that the movie isn't about the Holocaust but about saving 600 people from it. Basically, that the movie isn't about the Holocaust any more than Argo is about the Iranian Embassy Hostage Crisis.

He probably didn't know the actual number off the top of his head, and decided to play with the words to have a more relatable and dramatic comparison. The important part Is the hundreds to millions. Not the number of hundreds or number of millions.

That's exactly what it was. That's exactly why it's not really about the Holocaust. Had Spielberg opted to film "Night" by Elie Wiesel, for example, also a true story, but of death and despair, then we probably wouldn't be having this conversation.

Lots of historians use the term "Holocaust" to refer to only Jewish deaths. Jews were the primary target, and were pursued and murdered deliberately to a much larger degree than other populations in Eastern Europe.

I'd say that if you're including the five million POWs, Poles, gypsies, etc. who died due to Nazi persecution, you might as well include the Soviet citizens who died because of the Hunger Plan, and round up to 16-17 million. And then you have the conduct of its allies in territories conquered with German help. Or since Nazi Germany was responsible for the war in the first place, maybe they should bear the brunt of all civilian deaths in Europe, North Africa, the Balkans, etc.?

The point is it's not exclusionary to try and make a term not be as broad as possible.

How would not wanting to move faster than 35mph affect your ability to be a god damn genius movie maker? Well, I guess it would affect it by making you get places a lot slower, but it wouldn't make him less of a visionary.

John Madden refuses to fly, he was still a damn good football coach.

Yes, you're correct. It's the difference between a "normative" view and a "descriptive" view. A normative view says "I'm judging that thing positively or negatively based on what I value -- and I do like it or I don't like it." A descriptive view says "I'm making no judgement positive or negative -- it's just a fact that this is the way it is."

The film is about success, triumph -- not about tragedy. But that's not to say that this was wrong or right for Spielberg to have this focus. It always intrigues me that people don't recognize the difference between a normative or descriptive argument -- and this happens all of the time in our communication with one another.

Also, Kubrick and Spielberg were very, very good friends and Kubrick greatly admired Spielberg's work. That's one of the reasons why Kubrick decided to give his "A.I." project to Spielberg.

"Pol Pot killed 1.7 million people. We can't even deal with that! You know, we think if somebody kills someone, that's murder, you go to prison. You kill 10 people, you go to Texas, they hit you with a brick, that's what they do. 20 people, you go to a hospital, they look through a small window at you forever. And over that, we can't deal with it, you know? Someone's killed 100,000 people. We're almost going, "Well done! You killed 100,000 people? You must get up very early in the morning. I can't even get down the gym!"

-Eddie Izzard

"The Holocaust", by some definitions, specifically refers to the attempted full genocide of the Jewish people. Using it in that sense does not necessarily mean you disregard all other deaths associated with the Third Reich. I'm not defending this specific use of the word, just pointing out that it exists.

and were pursued and murdered deliberately

The point is, so were gays, Gypsies, the handicapped, socialists. They were all butchered en masse in concentration camps and not neglecting to mention that doesn't trivialise the Jewish victims at all.

No, that's not what the Holocaust refers to. Besides, roughly similar amounts of Jews died in concentration/extermination camps as were shot by Einsatzgruppen and the Wehrmacht.

That is an interesting fact. Also incorrect.


The success of Schindler's List led filmmaker Stanley Kubrick to abandon his own Holocaust project, Aryan Papers, which would have been about a Jewish boy and his aunt who survive the war by sneaking through Poland while pretending to be Catholic.

That sounds like a fascinating concept for a movie. It would be so open-ended, you wouldn't know where they were going next. Like the first half of Barry Lyndon.

What I find interesting is look at is the comparison between the axis civilian casualties and the allied civilian casualties. Holocaust deniers like to play a game of moral relativism where they compare various atrocities committed by the allies to the Holocaust (their much limited version of course). What this shows to me is that even if you want to play a game of moral relativism with it, the axis still killed an order of magnitude greater civilians. So even if you accept the premise that you can play moral relativism, the axis are STILL far worse.

brushing over anyone who suffered this fate because they weren't Jewish is extremely insensitive.

It's not a fucking competition. When we say that WWII historiography has often used the (otherwise fairly arbitrary) term "the Holocaust" to refer to the execution of the specific (and very explicitly stated and successfully implemented) design to exterminate the Jews, we're not denying the existence of other deaths. We're saying there's this one word which has been used in this particular capacity. And in this context, "how dare you have a word for that thing?" strikes me as an asinine response. That sort of lexical policing achieves nothing, save a moment's self-indulgent sense of righteous intellectual superiority.

And the Academy Award for Most Depressing Movie ever goes to "..."

Holocaust deniers would just say that the list is wrong anyway.

You can't argue with crazy.

Well no, they got wiped out, see.

you ejaculate 1.5 Australias per day, maybe more.

Back then the team took a bus.

Isn't it a little strange what the range of some of those death tolls are? I mean the Indian Rebellion of 1857 was 100,000 - 10,000,000.

"So what's the damage?"

"We lost 100,000 people... or we could have lost 100 times that many. Get off my back."

You don't include those because they didn't die in concentration camps from work or gas. That's what Holocaust refers to, and brushing over anyone who suffered this fate because they weren't Jewish is extremely insensitive.

The scary part is we don't know how many. 60-80 million is a BIG gap.

That's what we were taught in school. Hitler killed 6 million jews. Wasn't until college someone mentioned that it wasn't just jews. So can't really blame someone for getting the numbers confused.

Probably not, that's why he asked if it could be done.

You omitted the important part of the sentence:

and were pursued and murdered deliberately to a much larger degree

Around 2/3 of the Jews of Europe, and nearly 80% of those territories occupied by the Axis, died during the Holocaust. There isn't a nearly comparable mortality rate among other populations of Eastern Europe (possible exception: if you class Soviet POWs as their own group, about 60% of them were killed, largely by deliberate neglect and starvation).

I don't think mentioning other victims of Nazi oppression is trivializing Jewish victims at all. In fact I think that there is insufficient focus put on the larger Nazi strategy that foresaw tens of millions of Eastern Europeans murdered should the Third Reich have been successful. A lot of people I think have the sense that the Holocaust was a one-off, when instead it was intended to be just the start of decades of industrialized murder.

I'm just saying that historians now largely use the term "Holocaust" to denote Jewish victims. "Generalplan Ost" and "The Hunger Plan" are usually referenced for the larger goals of exterminating much of the other populations of Eastern Europe.

I can maybe answer this. The killing phase of the holocaust was not just the gas chambers in the concentration camps. It started with dedicated units that worked close to the Eastern Fronts lines and behind them that would 'cleanse' areas that had been occupied by Nazi Germany. These Einsatzgruppen are estimated to have killed aprox 1.3 million and would be included in total holocaust deaths. The gas chambers came to be preferred to the shootings and pogroms of the Einsatzgruppen in Eastern Europe and Russia which were found to be to slow and inefficient for the scope of the final solution and often psychologically broke the men who performed these up close killing.

Source: The Destruction of the European Jews by Hilberg

This. The Einstazengruppen and the Whermacht were a huge component of the Holocaust. When you limit the definition to just gassing and concentration camps you're cutting out a huge part of it that was actually planned that way.

Clarification: The Whermacht weren't necessarily planned to engage in the shooting of Jews, but they were also not seriously discouraged from participating. The closest we get to that is a court marshall of an officer who was charged with violating his orders and participating, but he was not punished for it. He was punished on the attendant counts of documenting it by taking pictures and therefore jeopardizing the safety and security of the Reich.

People seem to not know that the reason for the move to gassing had a lot to do with the fact that the SS who were doing the shooting of Jews as they pushed into Russia started to have nervous breakdowns. It was determined that a more "humane" procedure was required... Humane for the perpetrators of course. There were other considerations but don't discount this element of it.

Kind of a weird unit of measurement.

Depends whether they were rounded up and killed systematically, or killed in battle.

There are many thousands of people who saved Jews. Including your own Prince Constantin Karadja. I think it would be difficult to make a move about all of them.

I would like to see a movie about Suzanne Spaak, who not only saved Jewish Children but spied for the Soviets. Or Perhaps Chiune Sugihara who defied his own government's orders to issue transit papers to many thousands of people.

they are known in Israel as "Righteous Among the Nations" and each one of them has a marker at Yad Vashem.


what's even weirder is when people get mad at jews for other people not thinking of the non-jews who died. people will find a way to blame jews for everything. it's amazing.

Filmmaker Michael Haneke criticized the sequence in which Schindler's women are accidentally sent off to Auschwitz and herded into showers: "There's a scene in that film when we don't know if there's gas or water coming out in the showers in the camp. You can only do something like that with a naive audience like in the United States. It's not an appropriate use of the form. Spielberg meant well – but it was dumb."

Similar case with the massive famine in China c. 1960. Estimates range from 15 to 45+ million. Crazy stuff.

Xang! We need every able-bodied adult irrigating these fields!

Must... take... census...

IIRC 6 million was how many Jews died.

WWII was won on American manufacturing, English resolve, and Russian blood.- one of my favorite quotes from history studies.

Can you even make a movie like that that has a narrative arc? The Holocaust isn't really a story in and of itself, it's a terrible event that contained many smaller stories. It'd have to be like Love Actually, but horrifically depressing.

The population of Australia in 1945 was 7.4 million, so more like 9-10 Australias...

Catholics? Yeah the Nazis weren't killing people for being Catholic, literally half their population was Catholic.

I'm just saying that historians now largely use the term "Holocaust" to denote Jewish victims. "Generalplan Ost" and "The Hunger Plan" are usually referenced for the larger goals of exterminating much of the other populations of Eastern Europe.

You're talking about a completely different thing. The Holocaust is used to denote those who were systematically massacred in concentration camps, not just any victims of the nazis(which is what you seem to claim I'm claiming). The Hunger Plan is simply a completely different thing. The term "holocaust" is primarily used for the (attempt at) systematically eradicating "undesirables",

They could retcon some Orcs in Night.

One Romanian saved over 25 thousand jews, there is no movie about him tho. Another Romanian saved over 3.5 thousand jews, there is no movie about him tho. It hurts my romanian-is-not-a-gypsy feelings :(

35mph is about how fast you can crash in any car with no safety devices and still walk away...

Stephen King dislikes flying...

Isaac Asimov wouldn't do it...

Owsley only ate meat...

It's not really eccentricity as it is rationality to a greater degree. Of course the social wardens pathologize it...

Hemingway OTOH couldn't be got off dangerous contrivances and out of risky situations. Alcohol helps but the traumatic brain injury finally did him in.

Yeah, accurate record-keeping isn't really the top priority at times like that.

He didn't discriminate..

Schindlers's List is from 1993, Eyes Wide Shut from 1998...

And given the context of the movie and question, he is talking about Jewish deaths specifically.

If he was talking about maybe the homosexuals who died in the holocaust and a movie portraying that, he may have said "2 million homosexuals died in the holocaust, this movie is about 600 who didnt"

They got 3 movies out of the hobbit...

rather than civilian casualties in battle

This is not necessarily true. Millions of Soviet citizens were killed by the Wehrmacht, SS, and Einsatzgruppen simply because they were slavs. Those numbers are not just people killed as a side-effect of battle; they were targeted and killed on purpose.

Gotta free up that Lebensraum.

How insightful and worldly he is.

They still do, depending on where they're going. Chartering a bus just makes more sense sometimes.

At least 30% of the Romani population of Europe, and it's theorized that the number is actually higher.

The world "holocaust" comes from Greek, not Hebrew.

I'm thinking about the amount of bikini babes everywhere.

shit yeah

I don't think that's contradictory to Kubrick's statement.

They went after the clergy mostly, some nuns and lay leaders - not the Catholic population in general. The Nazi's wanted the Catholic schools and press shut down and instead wanted everything controlled by the state alone. If you were Catholic and spoke up against this, you were targeted. Thousands of Catholics were arrested, sent to camps, killed, but nothing like the millions of Jews.

Plenty of Jews were not killed in camps.

And yet the wiki article also says:

The success of Schindler's List led filmmaker Stanley Kubrick to abandon his own Holocaust project, Aryan Papers, which would have been about a Jewish boy and his aunt who survive the war by sneaking through Poland while pretending to be Catholic

Yeah there's zero reason to take a plane from Green Bay Wisconsin to Minneapolis Minnesota. They're just a few hours apart by bus, and you don't have the hassle associate with air travel.

Same thing with a lot of football games. LIke if the Jets and the Patriots play each other, or Tampa Bay and Miami.

I couldn't handle a world full of Australias. All that heat and death.

It's about time James Cameron adapted Elie Wiesel's "Night" in historically accurate detail.

Down under?

That's, like, 60-80 million Australians.

The real question is: can you make an honest movie about the Holocaust -- using Kubrick's definition of honest -- that people will actually watch?

Yep. The successful systematic targeting of a race/religion that wiped out roughly 40% of the worldwide Jewish population, with up to 90% of Jews killed in some European countries. To the point where the world Jewish population has still not recovered, 70 years later.

Wikipedia gives a source to that number, an article in The Guardian where the number is discussed.

Conventional histories have counted only 100,000 Indian soldiers who were slaughtered in savage reprisals, but none have tallied the number of rebels and civilians killed by British forces desperate to impose order, claims Misra.

So 100k only counts dead Indian soldiers and no civilian casualties. 10 million is a claim made by one historian. The truth is probably somewhere between.

"I told you guys I'm not good at math."

Because the Jewish genocide isn't complicated. People in Russian territories were traded between two different totalitarian regimes, and the independent nationalist forces that emerged were often pretty unsavory in their own right.

With the Jews, there isn't the onerous of weighing the severity of one tyranny over the other, or dealing with revenge killings once the persecuted people come back into power. It was just straight, unjustifiable persecution and human torment.

It's also a matter of what can get greenlit. The Holocaust looms larger in the American collective memory than the Eastern Front, in part because of the Soviet domination that came after it and the Cold War politics related to it. Plus, Holocaust movies only started having a chance at making money after Schindler's List. Before that, they all flopped. People only have so much tolerance for depression.

Thanks, Hal. Now could you please open the pod bay doors?


If anyone remembers, the fact that Oskar Schindler saves so few is the exactly the point of the movie. It illustrates that even though only six hundred lives are spared, tens of thousands of people today can trace their lineage to the "Schindler Jews." It left me with the question, "How many generations were lost from the millions that did perish in the holocaust?"

Although it's not a movie that showcases the entire scope of the holocaust, It is a movie that captures the human spirit and as well as the atrocity of genocide.

The Soviets made countless movies about their suffering, and subsequent victory, in the war.

It was going to be called Aryan Papers.


You do realise this is a perfectly normal unit of measurement and we're mocking you and your "bi-week" right?

Exactly. The Holocaust (along with virtually any large scale Disaster) is an unfathomable event of loss. I think Kubrick appreciates that he made a movie, which is for all its emotional content, a distillation of reality for entertainment. Even calling it the Holocaust makes it easier to digest and contend with just because we're fitting that whole atrocity into two words- there is no way to approximate the disaster. (Shout-out to Maurice Blanchot).

Relevant: Terry Gilliam compares Spielberg and Kubrick. Mentions Schindler's List.

Not two-thirds, but the Nazis also specifically targeted the Romani:


The Romani genocide or Romani Holocaust, also known as the Porajmos (Romani pronunciation: IPA: [pʰoɽajˈmos]), or Samudaripen ("Mass killing"), was the effort during World War II by the government of Nazi Germany and its allies to exterminate the Romani people of Europe. Under Adolf Hitler's rule, both Roma and Jews were defined by the Nuremberg laws as "enemies of the race-based state." These two groups (and others) were targeted by similar policies and persecution, culminating in the near annihilation of both populations within Nazi-occupied countries.[1]

But do Russian Jews count as war casualties or Holocaust deaths?

Horrifically depressing in a different way, anyway.

If you type in bold and all caps then Stanley might be able to read it.

Documentary. Really the only way.

Maybe it's just me but I didn't get triumph from the movie. A few people lived but all they did was remind you of how many more could have lived had people done more. To me it showed how little good most people did and how selfish people are in the face of fear.

I have a degree in history and the Holocaust is my area of expertise. I have never heard of a historian using "Holocaust" to refer only to Jewish deaths. If anything, we're constantly trying to get people to use that term to refer to all the groups that the Reich systematically killed. The number of Romani/Gypsies, homosexuals, political prisoners, etc. are certainly lower than the number of Jews that were imprisoned or murdered but they're not insignificant.

Something about China being around for a hell of a lot longer...

Emu export anyone?

Stalin rounded up plenty of people himself. So it's hard to tell.