Jun 17, 2011

Schindler's List, a Film Shot in Colourless Frames (1993)

Life is generally bitter, so I always try to write about happiness; sometimes by making fun of myself, and some other times by ridiculing others. I always want my writings to be rich and colourful, elegant and fun-filled. But when Indiblogger asks me to write about bringing colour to something which otherwise is colourless, I become confused. That happens most often. It usually requires a lot of extra struggle, if I am asked to do a specific task, which I effortlessly do at other times.

And now, when you ask me to write about a particular thing, which I would like to see taking a flight with colour, what comes to my mind right away is a thing, which I forever want to see colourless, a film made in black and white in this era of sophisticated technology – Schindler’s List

Crafted by the ace film maker, Steven Spielberg, this 1993 drama film introduces to us some rare good characters walked on earth during the catastrophic time of the Holocaust, like Oscar Schindler himself.  The Nazi rulers of the Third Reich decided to keep the purity of mankind; they labeled some as inferior to them. You have the right to live only if you have a harmless physique, and enough health to labour on earth. Otherwise you are a waste, you are useless, better to be destroyed and buried rather than causing unnecessary burden to the country.

Only some people are good, other humans make the human race impure. So, impure parts are to be destroyed. The people who had such a form of belief called themselves Nazis. Handicapped ones, older ones, like many others are shot at point blank in order to make the progress of the country easier. The Nazis hated Jews, and so, millions of Jews were slaughtered like animals in the hideous reign of Adolf Hitler in Germany. Jewish people, women, kids, everyone were asked to leave their home towns and to gather at the Ghettos, where they were asked to perform various manual labours, irrespective of their academic qualification. 

The Jews were mercilessly tortured in such Ghettos, and later at concentration camps and extermination camps, they were killed through suffocation, through several unethical medical experiments. The older males and females were asked to get naked first and then to make rounds running around the stadium to get their capability validated. Only the capable ones were selected, and the others were liquidated. The twin kids became the guinea pigs of the Nazi doctors. They practiced several experiments upon those innocent kids, many of those kids were killed, and those who returned alive became either handicapped or mentally retarded. Extermination through labour was another principle introduced by the Third Reich to demolish the Polish Jews. 

When you are filming these instances, who would like to watch them in colour? Spielberg was wise, so he made the film in black and white, to reduce the adverse effect that such horrific scenes could have imposed into the mind of the spectators. Also, through such colourless visuals, he wanted to generate an effect of timelessness.  

The only thing that you see in colour in the film except the end scenes is the red coat of a small girl, who is shown as walking through the streets along with many other captive Jews. While she is passing the street, we also see a pack of queued up ‘useless Jews’ being shot dead by a Nazi soldier. In some of the later scenes we see the corpse of a girl being carried in a wheel barrow, and we identify her with the same coat, which is faded red in colour. Would you like to see those scenes in violent colours?

We see Oscar Schindler there in the film, who, a Nazi himself, is a manufacturer and trader of war time ammunition. His objective is to make financial profit out of the war. But seeing the miserable condition of the Jews, an instant makeover happens; he is changed as a savior of the Jews. Schindler appoints several Jews in his factory, and even an elder feeble man is presented as an essential worker. A girl child is an essential worker, since only her tiny hands can polish the inside of a 45 millimeter shell casing. Besides all these arguments, many Nazi officers were hugely bribed by Schindler, to save each Jewish worker in his factory. The list of the Jews whom he bought from the officers (saved, in the literary sense) by paying huge price is now known as Schindler’s List, and the same serves as the title to the film. 

Schindler died penniless. The Jews remember him still. At the end of the film, the colours of life come back to the frames. All the Jews alive, who were saved by Schindler at the time of the Holocaust, are shown in the ending scenes as walking to the grave of Oscar Schindler to pay their respect along with the actors who donned the corresponding roles in the film. Actors Liam Neeson as Schindler and Ben Kingsley as his Jewish accountant along with many other important actors and thousands of extras did wonderful jobs to make the visually black and white frames imaginatively colourful. 

In Pictures: Scenes from Schindler's List
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