By Annabel Lee
As Itzhak Perlman’s violin tugs on the heart strings of any feeling human being, the story of Oscar Schindler comes alive and tells us of unparalleled humanism and compassion, testifying yet again of the goodness of people in the face of atrocities.
The movie, based on Thomas Keneally’s historical book Schindler’s Ark, one of Steven Spielberg’s masterpieces, for which he received both Best Director and Best Movie Academy Awards, was a collaborative effort by many talented people. And one of these people without whom this project could not have been realized was the American-Armenian screenwriter Steven Ernest Bernard Zallian.
Zallian’s screenplay is powerful and touching, without ever becoming melodramatic. It tells a story of real people in a real situation, and this realism of the whole picture is what leaves that indelible impression on anyone who has ever seen it.
Zaillian, born in 1953 in Fresno, California, received a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University in 1975, and has since produced scripts for many a remarkable movie. But the most noteworthy of these is definitely 1993’s Schindler’s List, for which he received an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Zallian has also been nominated for the Academy Award on two other separate occasions: in 1990 for Awakenings (Best Adapted Screenplay) and in 2002 for Gangs of New York (Best Original Screenplay). Additionally he wrote and directed quite a few movies himself: 1993’s Searching for Bobby Fischer, 2006’s All King’s Men, and many more. The man’s mastery and his dedication to his craft have given him the reputation of the go-to guy for commanding screenplays and an effective doctor when an existing script needs to be revived. He is the current “crowned king of screenplay” in Hollywood, “the most artful and subtle screenwriter Hollywood has had since Robert Towne” according to the Times.
(Robert Towne has written the scripts for numerous movies, including Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown, and many more.)