Symbolism in Schindler’s List

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Schindler’s List is a 1993 American film adaptation of Thomas Keneally’s novel Schindler’s Ark. The film follows the life of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who recruited thousands of Jewish refugees from Nazi death camps during World War II in his factories. The film’s use of metaphors has predominated in an effort to vividly present various topics and incidents that the actors in the film were experiencing. This paper would examine how symbolism was used in the film by concentrating on the presence of candles, the use of colors, and the use of trains.
Presence of candles
The film begins with a colorful Sabbath ceremony. A candle is lit in the opening scene is used to present a strong affirmation of presence of the Jewish faith throughout the film. Lighting candles on a Sabbath represents the relationship between the Jewish people and God.The candles are used to create a calm moment through which people reflect on the events taking place in a chaotic world. The candle introduces the film to the viewers with a point of it being a Jewish story and not Nazi.

The candle goes off when the brief scene concludes as it is supposed to. It symbolizes the change that the Jewish life is about to undergo in Europe where it will be extinguished the same way as the candle. Late in the film, there is another Sabbath ceremony in which another candle is lit. The candle is used to symbolize the hope of freedom that is becoming a reality to the Jewish people and as representing a flicker of Jewish life that is still alive.

Use of color in the film

Symbolism in the use of color is evident in three main instances in the film. These instances are at the beginning of the film, at the end of the film and on the little girl wearing the red coat. Use of color at the beginning and the end of the film is used to show the distinction between today’s color film and the black and white film used in the past. Actors and the actual survivors are seen at the end of the film walking by the grave of Schindler and placing stones on it. The scene is presented in modern day color thereby giving the whole film a nonfiction appearance. The little girl wearing a red coat is also used to symbolize the Jewish people who were in need of help at the time. The red coat symbolizes the red flag that was waved to the allied powers during World War II, calling for help in rescuing the Jews. The red color is also used to symbolize youth and vibrancy, portraying the girl as a person with a bright future.

Use of trains in the film

Trains were the main means of transport used by the Nazi party to transport the Jews during World War II. In the film the trains are used transport workers to different concentration camps controlled by the Nazis, with most instances bringing the Jews to Auschwitz camp. The trains are used to symbolize movement of workers including women and children to death. The viewers associate the trains with tragedy and it is for this reason that one is not surprised when a train transports hundreds of women to Auschwitz camp instead of Zwittau-Brinnlitz. At the very end of the film, Jews working in Zwittau-Brinnlitz are presented on top of the train tracks. The scene is symbolic of the achievements made by the Jews in conquering the trains which were being used as the main weapons of death.

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