Schindler’s List is a 1993 drama/history film, directed by Steven Spielberg. The film is an extraordinary and intriguing piece of cinematography, which depicts the horrors of being Jewish in Nazi Germany. The Director uses symbolism, technical and dramatic qualities and music to keep the audience captivated. The film is based on the true story of Oskar Schindler and his life as a business man in the 1940’s. Set in Krakow, Poland the film follows the creation of the Jewish ghetto during World War II. Initially, Oskar views the Jews as an opportunity to make money, using their labour to produce goods within his factory. The film portrays his growing compassion for the plight of the Jews and his commitment to saving as many Jewish lives as possible.
Superb performances and technical representation heighten’s the film. The performance between Liam Neeson (Oskar Schindler) and Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) brilliantly conveys the idea of good and evil. We are intrigued when we see Schindler grow as a person in contrast to Amon’s prosperous actions. Whereas Fiennes embodies the Nazi party; a cold, cruel and ruthless movement that acts without mercy. Later in the movie, at the time of the liquidation of the Jews. Schindler is deterred by the sight of the small girl wearing a red dress. The camera follows the girl at close proximity, imitating his view upon her. He watches and lingers at the sight of this girl oblivious to the world surrounding. Showing to the audience that he was beginning to ponder about the cruel intentions the Nazis held. The scene is enhanced by haunting polish music, emphasizing the despair the culture experienced with in the ghetto and their innocence.
Spielberg uses various film techniques to display a character’s personal endeavors. Low angle shot – shot is taken when the camera is below or looking up at the object or figure, is used to suggest Goeth as powerful, with dominating intentions. To further develop this presence, low key lighting is used – shadow is highlighted/accentuated – to emphasise and capture Goeth’s calamitous actions as a character.
Spielberg uses a black and white genre to good effect in the film. The contrast of light and darkness, symbolically portrays good versus evil, in a metaphoric way. This style of filming really contributes to the entire feel of the movie. An example is when Spielberg uses a simple but complex symbol of a girl in a red dress. As a viewer we see the girl (Genia) wander the Jewish ghetto segregated and defeated by a colourless world. As Schindler witnesses this, he is intrigued by the girl and begins to wonder about the values of Nazism.
Later ‘Genias’ red coat is seen carried amongst the charred Jewish. This moment signifies a huge shift in Schindler’s consciousness, realizing he can no longer be a part of the Nazi’s tyranny. Shocked by this act, Schindler is repulsed and finally percieves the nightmare staggering upon them. By capturing this idea of colour embodied by a young girl, Spielberg highlights the cruelty of the Holocaust and the old adage “one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic” comes to mind.
The film score was created by John Williams, a world renowned composer. Full of extravagant ideas, he translates these into a piece of musical genius. The music gives the audience a feel of ambience and invites them into the sad world created by the ‘ghetto’. It allows the movie to evoke feelings within the audience, capturing the viewers and supporting the actor’s performances. We experience this in scenes towards the end when the Jews begin to be rescued by Schindler. The music inspires hope with in us, helping us acknowledge Oscar’s willingness and desire to help the Jews to safety. John Williams has also composed for Star Wars, Superman and E.T, all marvellous and well-known movies. Showing his knowledge as a musician and talent for creating brilliantly scored movies.
The film successfully portrays meaningful concepts such as the relationship between the wealth of the Nazi’s and beggary of the Jewish folk, and the power embezzled by the Nazis. The film connects these concepts whilst retaining a captivating plot line. Similarly, the film details dramatic events which grip the audience’s attention: the burning of the Jews, Amons cruel and lifeless killings in the ghetto and the Jews race to freedom.
Even though Schindler’s List is set in this monochrome like style, the audience is kept captivated by tone, cinematography and the exquisite music composition. Overall, the film portrays the horrors that the Jews suffered at the hand of the Nazis and the actions of a business man who attempted to make a difference. Even though he was first seen as an egotistical man it was he that saved a thousand Jews and Schindler who gave light in a time of darkness. The movie is an exceptional representation of cinematography and is definitely worth the watch, giving insight into the atrocity of the Holocaust and the great saying; the Holocaust was a time of, “life without light”.