Schindler's List Essay

1851 words - 7 pages

The Holocaust was a time of horrible cruelty. Millions of people were forced into atrocious conditions and suffered unspeakable treatment. They were treated worse than cattle, losing their identity. The German people after the war also lost their individual identities. Even though most of the population had no idea what was going on, they were blamed and stereotyped as monsters for the actions of a small group. Schindler’s List (1993), directed by Steven Spielberg, tells the story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) who was different than the Nazi party, saving thousands of Jews from slaughter during the Holocaust and giving them back their identities. Steven Spielberg, through the use of symbolism, wide angle, long angle, and handheld camera shots, and black and white filming, shows the importance of individualization in contrast to the dehumanization of the Holocaust, and how that distinction caused extreme cases of death and chaos. Though the movie does alter Oskar Schindler to make him more like the stereotypical protagonist, it is still a good historical movie because the outcome is the same: over 1,000 Jewish men, women, and children saved because of Schindler’s actions.

Dehumanization was one of the main goals of the Holocaust, and the movie shows it well. The largest symbol of this is the lists used throughout the movie. This is shown not only in the title, but in multiple close ups of the various lists in the movie. Lists are constant part of the Jews’ lives. It tells them who goes, who stays, who lives, and who dies. The lists diminish the Jews to just names, just inventory to move around. It strips them of their personality.

As the Jews are shipped out of the ghetto, their personal items are taken, supposedly to be shipped along with them. The camera then pans to a huge warehouse full of the families’ most prized possessions, thrown into piles and sorted out. Anything that cannot be sold is thrown away. This scene underlines the sheer amount of people that were victims of the Holocaust, and whose identities were simply wiped away by discarding their belongings. In both that scene and others, such as the train scenes, long and wide angle shots are used to emphasize the quantity of people there are in the scene. These mass shots stay focused only on the group at large, again forcing the sense of dehumanization onto the audience.

When there is the degradation of people, there is violence and death. These deaths do not only represent the physical deaths of the victims, but the death of innocence and the Jewish race as a whole. A symbol of innocence, the girl in the red coat, is shown walking through the carnage during the clearing of one of the ghettos. She seems unfazed by the violence around her, almost like an angel of death. With her red coat the only color in the otherwise black and white movie, she becomes a beacon of hope and innocence amid the chaos. If she survives this genocide, then others have a chance too. This is...

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