Style. The most striking technical feature of Spielberg’s feature film is the use of black- and-white photography. For a Hollywood blockbuster movie this

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  • Style

  • The most striking technical feature of Spielbergs feature film is the use of black-and-white photography. For a Hollywood blockbuster movie this is, of course, a very unconventional step to take. Black and white film is usually associated with either classical Hollywood or alternative cinema, but was thought unlikely to attract large audiences in the 1990s.

    So why did Spielberg choose to make the film largely in black and white?

  • Spielberg said, I think black and white stands for reality. I dont think color is real. My only experience with the Holocaust has been through black-and-white documentaries. (Spielbergs Holocaust, 1997). There are several aspects of Schindlers List, which copy conventions associated with the documentary film. Can you identify any of them?

  • 1)Filming it in black-and-white places the images shown alongside images shot by the Nazis, and later the Allied troops. The black-and-white presentation effectively evokes the World War II era, looking like the documented footage that was shot at the time, and deepens the impact of the events we are watching.

  • 2) To further enhance the realism of the film, most of the scenes on the streets and in the ghetto (40% of the film) are shot with a hand-held camera, like that which would often be used to make a documentary.

  • "I tried to be as close to a journalist in recording this re-creation, more than being a filmmaker trying to heighten the suspense or action or the pathos. The black and white and hand-held camera gives the film sort of a cinema verit, documentary feel. It embodied the truth we were trying to explore and communicated what happened. It made it seem more real, somehow.

    Spielberg said about the combination of these two elements:

  • 3) The film was shot using many original locations, including Schindler's old factory and the elegant apartment he lived in during his time in Krakow. Both buildings remain almost exactly as they were just over 50 years ago.

  • 4)Another convention taken from documentaries is the use of intertitles, which explain, for example, the Judenrat or Edict 44/91.They also date the events, not only in narrative terms, but within history:

  • These are historical facts, the dates sometimes exact to the day:

  • Summary : aspects of the documentary genreThe combination of: black and white images, the hand-held camera, the scenes being shot on location andthe use of intertitlesmeans that the film establishes an intimacy and actuality which becomes as authoritative as a documentary film and succeeds in putting the viewer as close to the event as possible. It also places the audience as a bystander next to the victims. We feel like we are there with them.

  • The artistic advantage of black and white film is that it:a) heightens the impact of the films violence and b) highlights the duality of good and evil.

  • The lighting and contrast in the film noir style enhance the brutality of each violent scene. For instance:When the one-armed man is shot in the head in the snowy streets of Krakw, his seemingly black blood spreads through the pure white snow, and the stark contrast in colours emphasises the split between life and death, good and evil.

  • The contrast of light and dark is used to mark Schindlers face, which is often half in shadow, reflecting his selfish dark side.

    b) The use of black and white highlights the duality of good and evil. His face becomes more fully lighted as he makes the transformation from war profiteer to saviour.

  • The use of colourBlack and white also presents the filmmaker with the opportunity to occasionally use colour to highlight key scenes, such as the girl in the red coat during the liquidation of the ghetto:

  • Colour is also used to signal shifts in time. For example, the opening scene is full-colour, one of only a handful of colour scenes in the movie:

  • Colour is also used to signal shifts in time. For example, the opening scene is full-colour, one of only a handful of colour scenes in the movie:

  • Colour is also used to signal shifts in time. For example, the opening scene is full-colour, one of only a handful of colour scenes in the movie:

  • The scene focuses on the candles, then fades into the next scene, in black and white.

  • The scene focuses on the candles, then fades into the next scene, in black and white.

  • The scene focuses on the candles, then fades into the next scene, in black and white.

  • The scene focuses on the candles, then fades into the next scene, in black and white.

  • The scene focuses on the candles, then fades into the next scene, in black and white.

  • The shift plunges viewers into 1939, bringing them symbolically closer to the events and characters in the story. We next see the flames of lit candles in colour in the Brinnlitz factory, a symbol of the rebirth of hope, life and humanity for the Jewish people.

  • The shift plunges viewers into 1939, bringing them symbolically closer to the events and characters in the story. We next see the flames of lit candles in colour in the Brinnlitz factory, a symbol of the rebirth of hope, life and humanity for the Jewish people.

  • The shift plunges viewers into 1939, bringing them symbolically closer to the events and characters in the story. We next see the flames of lit candles in colour in the Brinnlitz factory, a symbol of the rebirth of hope, life and humanity for the Jewish people.

  • This artistic and psychological convention of bringing the audience back in time works well partly because it captures the way many people visualise World War IIthrough black-and-white images and film footage of the 1930s and 1940s.

  • In the liquidation of the Krakw ghetto, the lighting is kept dark, conveying a sense of panic and confusion. The white faces of the dead in the streets contrast starkly against the murky background.

  • In the liquidation of the Krakw ghetto, the lighting is kept dark, conveying a sense of panic and confusion. The white faces of the dead in the streets contrast starkly against the murky background.

  • The same contrast marks the pile of burning bodies in the Plaszw work camp: the white skulls stand out in the pile of ashes.

  • The womens faces in the shower scene at Auschwitz are bathed in white light as they stare up in terror at the showerheads.

  • The womens faces in the shower scene at Auschwitz are bathed in white light as they stare up in terror at the showerheads.

  • The womens faces in the shower scene at Auschwitz are bathed in white light as they stare up in terror at the showerheads.

  • Do you think Schindlers List would have had the same visual and emotional impact had Spielberg made the film in colour?

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