"Schindler's List," the true story of a Nazi war profiteer who saved the lives of 1,100 Jews during World War II, will be the first network program to bear the maximum rating of TV-M -- for mature audiences -- when it airs at 7:30 tonight on NBC. The film will be shown with virtually no changes from the R-rated theatrical version, according to director Steven Spielberg's production company.

A spokesman for Spielberg said last week that the director had shaved a few seconds off some explicit sex scenes in the 1993 black-and-white movie, but otherwise insisted on leaving it intact, including gruesome scenes of murder, nudity and humiliation.

"There are no punches pulled here," said Marvin Levy, Spielberg's spokesman at Amblin Entertainment. "Oskar Schindler was a womanizer; it's part of his character. You will see {sexual} nudity, you'll see the nudity in the camps. And you can't touch any of that." The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Spielberg's first Oscar for direction.

Tonight's showing, sponsored by Ford Motor Co., will air without commercial interruption. NBC Enterprises President John Agoglia said last week that it was the first time that so lengthy a film -- 3 1/2 hours -- would be shown on prime-time network television without commercials. Ford will air a specially made 60-second ad before and after the broadcast.

By turns horrifying and uplifting, "Schindler's List" is the true story of Oskar Schindler, a high-living, hard-drinking Nazi Party member, a friend and business associate of Nazi officers, who decided to save the lives of Jews in Krakow, Poland, by employing them in his factory. The Jews were otherwise slated for deportation to death camps, and the film graphically depicts the way Jews like them were enslaved, starved, brutalized and ultimately exterminated by the Nazis. Some of the men and women Schindler saved from the gas chambers are still alive, many of them in Israel; they appear briefly with their children at the end of the film.

"It is more graphic, more explicit than anything you may have seen on network TV," said Levy. "You will see violence and suffering, but not to show it would not be true to the integrity of film and true to history." He added that Spielberg "feels that elementary school kids probably should not see it, but parents have to make that decision."

Spielberg made "Schindler's List" a personal crusade for education and awareness about the Holocaust, in which 6 million European Jews were wiped out. The film has been shown to nearly 2 million American high school students at special screenings across the country. The video has been sent to every high school in America -- more than 20,000 -- for use as an educational aid, and Spielberg has pushed for legislation making the Holocaust part of the high school curriculum, which has since passed in several states including Florida and New Jersey.

When NBC bought the film, network executives assured the director that the film would receive special treatment. Among Spielberg's conditions was that "Schindler's List" be shown with a minimum of commercial interruptions, and without any humorous advertisements. NBC agreed not to show any network promotions for other shows, and its affiliates also agreed to forgo any local advertising. Two 90-second intermissions in the middle of the movie will have no commercials at all.

"Everyone has contributed to making this as inviting as possible for viewers. Hopefully, families will watch," said Agoglia. "The film in and of itself is an extremely powerful film. It's something very special, and we were trying to make it very special in the presentation. It's more than a topic -- it's the way the topic is presented in an informative, entertaining way that does justice to the subject matter."

The telecast comes in the middle of the key February sweeps, when audience ratings are used to determine network advertising rates.

Ford's general marketing manager, Bobbie Gaunt, said the company decided to sponsor the broadcast not only because of the importance of the subject, but because it wanted to create an emotional tie between the brand name and customers.

"Basically we're doing this because we believe that Schindler's List' is a story that should be told time and time again, about the ability of an individual to make a difference," said Gaunt. "When we were presented with the opportunity to sponsor Schindler's List,' it fit into one of our primary strategies for the brand, in terms of how to support the communities in which we build and where we sell cars. . . . One of the strong emotional attachments we want to build is that Ford is part of the community in supporting education."

"Schindler's List" has been seen by an estimated 25 million American moviegoers. and an even larger number abroad. Spielberg donated all of the profits from the film to set up the Righteous Persons Foundation, a fund that supports Jewish arts and culture. He also created the Visual History Foundation to document eyewitness accounts of survivors on videotape. The foundation has so far collected 21,000 interviews. Tonight's broadcast will not mark television's first dose of TV-M. The producers of the syndicated "Jerry Springer" show applied the rating to two episodes that aired during this month's sweeps: "I'm Looking to Make My First Adult Film" and "Behind the Scenes of an Adult Film." CAPTION: TV-M: The Oscar winner "Schindler's List" -- a stark, 3 1/2-hour-long look at the Holocaust starring Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson, above -- will be shown commercial-free on NBC.