Schindler's Scene Analysis

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The Girl’s Scene with the Red Coat in Schindler 's List

The scene featuring the girl with the red coat in Schindler 's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993) is of the most recognizable scenes in late twentieth century cinema. It is often understood to encapsulate key aspects of the Holocaust, its brutality, and its effects on the lives of the people caught up within it. At the time, the scene deals with the paradoxes of memory, memorial and what may appear to be a sense of personal inability when faced with overwhelming events. As such, in order to discuss the scene it is necessary to first of all discuss its cinematic technique, its role within the wider context of the film, and the history that it portrays. According to Jeremy Maron,
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She walks among the crowd as if she is a ghost. No one notices her when she goes back and forth in front of the Nazi’s guards. Her red coat is one of only four objects in the film which are not presented in high-contrast monochrome. Its inclusion in the scene generates a strongly subjective sense, something which is paradoxically accentuated by the dispassionate position of the camera. Once the girl is introduced into the scene, Schindler is shown to follow the girl with his eyes, although Spielberg still declines to use any close-ups of her or to present the scene from her perspective. Rather, the continued use of cuts between Schindler 's own reactions and the girl 's seeming indifference generate a strong sense of Schindler 's own subjective cathexis; something of which the girl herself is ignorant. The scene ends as Schindler is persuaded to ride away and the girl disappears into an unknown house. Here Spielberg employs a short stationary shot which present her running up a staircase, before cutting to a wide shot of her standing alone in a bedroom and then two close-ups of her crawling under the bed to hide. The final shot is a close-up of her face as footsteps are heard storming up the stairs of the house and she places her hands over her ears. The sequences end with a strong sense of pathos suggesting that the girl is viscerally aware of the need to …show more content…
The use of low and high angle shots and the hand-held and fixed cameras effectively generates the subjective melodrama at the heart of the film, while presenting its central protagonist as being overwhelmed by the objectivity of the situation confronting him. Similarly, the use of hard cuts generates the sense of weakness and historical isolation which is overcome throughout the arc of the film. While several spectators note that this subjective preoccupation with the figure of Schindler over and above the actual victims of the Holocaust can be argued to be a Hollywood manipulation, and even a trivialization of the subject matter, it is equally possible to argue

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