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Literary Analysis of Schindler’s List Essay

The Holocaust was a colossal extermination of about six million Jews in Eastern Europe under the criminal hands of Nazis and SS troops during World War II. It started in 1933 and ended in 1945 when the war in Europe finally ended. The whole genocide was organized methodically Germany’s leader, Adolf Hitler. At first Jews are persecuted, then robbed of their citizenship, then moved into ghettos, and quickly into concentration camps. The evil plot developed and grew and what started out as hatred turned into a scheme of mass murder. Steven Spielberg uses color, shadows, and juxtaposition of scenes to display the inhumanity of the Nazi Germans and the hopelessness of the Jewish people during the Holocaust of World War II. Spielberg uses shadows to symbolize the archetype of good and evil in Oskar Schindler. The shadow on Schindler’s face is used to represent the evil and the selfishness in him. The shadow on Schindler’s face in the beginning is dark and prominent. The dark shadow becomes less and less prevalent as Schindler’s point of view of the Jews begins to change.

As the film goes on and Schindler’s emotions change Spielberg uses less shadow, and eventually ends up using none at all. Schindler begins to care about the well-being of the Jews. When Schindler gives his speech to the Jews before they all leave the camp, no shadow is seen on his face, displaying his true emotions and his complete empathy for the Jews. Spielberg uses shadows for Schindler as he makes the transformation from a selfish Nazi to the savior of hundreds of Jews. Spielberg’s use of color indicates hope in the film. In the beginning, the film’s color changes from all color to black and white, except for one candle. The switch to black and white gives the film a more realistic feel by relating to film from World War II. The color of the candles both at the beginning and at the end of the movie represent the loss and redemption of hope for the Jews. While the Germans are clearing out the slums where the Jews are being held, Schindler is seen looking at an apparently lost girl wearing a spot-lit red coat. The girl is confused about where to go and what to do.

After seeing this girl Schindler begins to feel the same, he’s confused about how the Germans can be so cruel to the Jews and he begins to wonder what he can do to help. The little girl pushes against the crowd, and Schindler, when he sees this, begins to do the same by pushing against the German attacks to help the Jews be free once again. Spielberg uses black-and-white and spot color to display the theme of hope throughout the film. Juxtaposition from scenes places a Nazi party, a Jewish wedding celebration, and a servant being brutally beaten parallel to each other to contrast the differences between them. In the first scene, a party is shown filled with many Nazi soldiers and officials. Schindler is seen at this extravagant party drinking, laughing, and kissing many women. He is happy and shows no kind of remorse for his action or any of the actions going on at the concentration camp. As Schindler’s scene closes, the camera goes to the Jewish barracks where a secret wedding is taking place. The barrack is filled with singing and happiness as the couple is united.

This symbolizes the Jews’ choice to be happy even as the world around them is so harsh and brutal to them. The scene once again circulates to show Amon Goeth in the basement intimidating, yelling at, and eventually beating his Jewish servant Helen. The entirety of Goeth’s hate and wrath are taken out on Helen. Spielberg’s use of parallel editing helps display the effects of the Holocaust between three different groups of people at the same time. In the film Schindler’s List, Schindler stands up for the Jews by buying their freedom and shipping them to his own factory where they are treated well with good food, water, and the company of what family still remained. The Nazi party wanted the extinction of the Jews, so they made a valiant effort to do so. In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed. The Holocaust was one of the darkest periods of history, filled with madness and murder, and Spielberg displays the effects of the Holocaust by using color, shadows, and juxtaposition in his film, Schindler’s List.

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