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The Girl in the Red Coat Analysis

Updated on August 19, 2020

The sequence that I am going to analyze is the following:
In order to analyze this fragment of the film with clarity and accuracy, I will first discuss its synopsis.

Schindler's List (1993) is a black and white film directed by Steven Spielberg that is based on the Krakow of World War II. Oskar Schindler, a Nazi of German nationality who did not live in the Federal Republic of Germany but in Czechoslovakia, arrives in Krakow with the hope of making a fortune by bribing important positions in the German armed forces and acquires a factory to produce enameled utensils. He hires a Jewish accountant, Stern, with black market contacts, to help him run the factory. Schindler has Nazi friendships and enjoys his social status. In this factory Schindler hires Jewish workers since they charge less and because Stern tries to save his compatriots from deportation to concentration camps by giving them jobs, essential for the war. The SS officer arrives in Krakow with the function of supervising the construction of the Plaszów concentration camp, when it is finished he orders that the Jewish people of that city must be liquidated. Schindler witnesses the massacre and is deeply affected.

Specifically, he looks at a girl who wears a red coat, this is the scene that I will analyze. We can know that this coat is red despite the film being in black and white by choice of Spielberg. This girl is observed by Schindler, mounted on horseback ready to leave Krakow, while fleeing the Nazis and whose lifeless body can be seen shortly after among a mountain of dead Jews.

This film is based on the novel Schindler's Ark written by Thomas Keneally. Spielberg shot in black and white to give the film a documentary tone to give the story realism.

The main objective of this work is to discover why Spielberg chose to make this film be filmed in black and white and why he decided to give importance to the color of the coat of the girl mentioned above.

To analyze it, I will use a method that we have explained in the next section and following the guidelines of this, I will analyze the positioning of each character and also the color in order to reach my own conclusion about why this sequence is so well known.

Now I will proceed to analyze using the methodology that I presented in the upper section:

PRODUCTION → The filming of Schindler's List began on March 1, 1983 and lasted seventy-two days.
The location of most of the scenes, like the scene that I have chosen to analyze, took place in Krakow, in places such as the Kazimierz neighborhood, one of the neighborhoods most affected during the Nazi invasion in World War II, Concentration Camp from Plaszów, Auschwitz, among others.

I must also highlight the team of people who made this film possible and especially the well-known scene on which I have focused to do this work:

Steven Spielberg → a world-renowned American director, screenwriter and producer. He is known as one of the pioneers of the New Hollywood era. From his films we can highlight Jaws (1975), E.T., the extraterrestrial (1982) and the first film Back to the Future (1985). In addition, he has been nominated six times for the Oscars for best director and of these six he has won two of them, one of them for his role as a director in this film.
Janusz Kaminski → is a Polish cinematographer. He has worked as a cinematographer on films such as The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and The War of the Worlds (2005).
John Williams → is an American music composer and conductor. He has been a composer of the Star Wars saga and has even composed the music for four of the Olympic Games. Throughout his career he has won five Oscars.

Branko Lustig → is a Croatian film producer and actor, of Jewish descent and a Holocaust survivor. He is known for some movies like Gladiator (2000).

Gerald R. Molen → is an American film producer who frequently works with Spielberg, having produced five of his films. He was the winner of an Oscar for production on Schindler's List.
Liam Neeson → This is a British actor. He was nominated for an Oscar for best actor but did not win it. He is known for many films such as Les Misérables and some Star Wars movies.
Oliwia Dabrowska → is a Polish actress known for her supporting role in Schindler's List but has not acted in any movies since.

IMAGE → The scene I have chosen to analyze lasts 2 minutes and 26 seconds and consists of 17 shots, all with the great composition characteristic of Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg has transmitted us a great amount of information without having abused types of shots and at the same time taking into account the movements of the camera, the composition of the image and the music of John Williams that accompanies this sequence, with no need to say More than a few words from Oskar Schindler's escort throughout the scene.

I would like to begin by explaining Spielberg's choice to choose to make the film in black and white. The choice to use black and white in Schindler's List conveys an alternative but no less realistic version of life. The film features a mix of styles, such as film noir, which is associated with the great detective stories of the 1940s. The style links the film to that time period and serves to deepen viewers' immersion in the setting historical.

The artistic advantage of black and white is that it increases the impact of the film's violence and highlights the duality between good and evil. Lighting and contrast in film noir style enhance the brutality of each violent scene.

Schindler's List might not have had the same visual and emotional impact if Spielberg had made the film in color.

Now I will proceed to analyze the composition of some shots that have caught my attention and I have considered the most important:

In this shot, we find a medium shot of Oskar Schindler on a horse observing what is happening in the town under his feet. Whoever is looking down gives us superiority and makes us understand that he will not be a victim of the massacre that is taking place under him.

If you look at his facial expression, how he has a frown, it does not evoke security but regret and even sadness.

Being a sequence in black and white we cannot highlight specific colors but we can see that they are muted colors, how gray and black are, and a cloudy day.

The point of attention is your face, to be more specific, your eyes, the direction you are looking in, and the frown.


We go to a general shot from Schindler's perspective and we observe a girl walking down the middle of the street while Jews killed by the Nazis are falling around her. This girl seems not to be very aware of what is happening and it shows in her calm, innocent way of walking. The camera is doing a kind of tilt-down to follow the girl.

What catches our attention about this girl is her red coat, it is the only object in the film that you can see what color it is and this has a reason that I will explain now. The coat is the only colored object in the entire film. For Schindler, she represents the innocence of the murdered Jews. He sees her from the top of a hill and is fascinated by her, almost excluding the violence that surrounds her. The moment that Schindler sees her marks the moment when he is forced to face the horror of Jewish life during the Holocaust and his own work in that massacre. The girl also has a greater social importance.

Her red coat suggests the "red flag" that the Jews waved to the Allied powers during World War II as a cry for help. The girl walks through the violence of the evacuation as if she cannot see it, ignoring the misfortunes that occur around her. Spielberg wants us to see this as a moral turning point for Schindler, he wants to show us a tenth of what happened, to make us aware of the six million murdered Jews.

Spielberg said the scene was intended to symbolize how members of the highest levels of government in the United States knew the Holocaust was happening but did nothing to stop it and also the red symbolizes innocence, hope or blood. red of the Jewish people who are sacrificed. in the horror of the holocaust.

Perhaps the use of the color red is justified by associating it with the blood and suffering of the Jewish people.

This shot begins with a medium shot of the woman who accompanies Schindler and through panning we go to see Schindler observing the terrible scene in which the town is. The woman's facial expression caught my attention since she does not have a sad facial expression but rather one of bewilderment. Schindler is in a similar position to the previous one.

The colors that predominate in this plane are, once again, muted colors such as gray and black.

This plane is a whole one in which the town is seen where several Jews are seen walking with a Nazi soldier at their side and the girl walks next to them. Once again, what captures our attention in this scene is the girl, and the characteristic color of her coat, which the camera follows through the use of panning.

For the girl to walk dressed in red with everyone without any color that attracts attention is as if she is giving off hope among the condemned Jews.

The director puts us back in a general shot of the town while panning so that we can observe the great commotion of the town.

Here we can see a close-up of Schindler with his characteristic frown, but this gives us another feeling. It is as if Schindler is rambling in his mind and rethinking all his decisions throughout his life and if they were really worth it. It seems that he becomes angry at everything that has happened and that he cannot do anything to change it.

The focus of this shot is once again your facial expression. The colors in this scene are still muted and lifeless.

This is a general shot of the girl walking with her village. To the left of this plane we can see an Indian row of Jews with several Nazis positioned in front of them. This leads to a tragic end where all the Jews are shot. It gives two perspectives of what could happen to you if you were Jewish: you are “lucky”, they don't kill you but you end up in a concentration camp and delay the time of your death after being exploited in all possible ways or you have “bad luck ”And they shoot you the first time.

The most visible characteristic among Jews and Nazis are the shades of their trench coats. The Nazis have a lighter shade raincoat, as if it were gray, while the Jews not only have a dark raincoat, not to say black, but also have a white ribbon on their arm to identify them.

This is a close-up of the woman who accompanies Oskar Schindler and is the close-up of the sequence where they speak. The woman asks Oskar Schindler to leave as she cannot bear to see more. The camera pans over to Oskar.

In this image you can already see sadness on the woman's face but this does not convey resentment on his part towards the Nazis.

The colors are muted and the point of attention is their faces.


In this shot we can see how the girl enters a building to hide and meanwhile the Jews are getting into a truck that will surely take them to a concentration camp.

It is a detailed shot of the stair railing that we see the girl climbing. It could be a house of someone wealthy due to the design of the railing and it is not smooth. I think this was done by Spielberg to convey to the audience that even if you were rich you could end up shot or in a concentration camp, the Nazis did not care about your money, they only cared about your origin and beliefs.

We can see that the color of the railing, although the film is in black and white, resembles a dark brown, like walnut, a rather expensive material.

The focus of attention in this scene is clearly the railing, its design and its color.

We go to a reverse shot of the protagonist who cannot bear to observe how the people are massacred and decides to leave together with his companion. Schindler withdraws and the face follows him, travels through a medium plane, until he and his companion enter a whole joint plane.

Both horses on which Schindler and his companion are mounted are dark in color, so it could connote that with the idea of ​​these two characters moving away from that place, “death” and the massacre would go with them.

This consists of an entire shot of the girl entering a room. The camera follows her through the use of the panel and enters a wide shot as she hides under the bed. In this plane we must not only look at the girl and how her coat no longer has that striking red, it has a minimal shade of red and it can hardly be seen clearly, but also how the room is destroyed, there are broken furniture and everything in between. This leads me to reiterate what was explained above that the Nazis did not care what money they had but the fact that they were Jews.

The fact that the girl's coat is not as red as in other planes may mean that she is about to die and has little "life" or innocence left in her body, since when Schindler left, she lost all hope of survival.

This is the last shot that I will analyze and it is where we can see the girl hidden under the bed, in a medium shot. The girl has her hands together and her fingers intertwined and it seems as if she is praying to some god to save herself and that she is not caught under the bed.

What most caught my attention in this scene was the position of the hands and the sparkle in the girl's eyes that convey fear of what might happen causing the viewers tenderness.

RECEPTION → First I will talk about the girl in red who, although her body is shown later in the film, survived this massacre.

This girl is inspired by Roma Ligocka, who was forced by her friends, because due to what she had been through, it had been difficult for her for 50 years to come across things from her past, she did not want to be reminded of what she had to go through. see Schindler's List in the cinema, without any knowledge that a character inspired by it would come out, and recognized herself as the Jewish girl so characteristic of this film. Seeing the public's response, she decided to write a book with her experiences on World War II and called it The Girl in the Red Coat. Months after recognizing himself in the film he met Spielberg and said “At first, Spielberg was very surprised to find that he had survived. They did research for the film in Poland, Israel and the United States, but they did not believe that a Holocaust survivor lived in Germany. " She has also come to comment on what it was like for her to watch the movie: "Schindler's List changed the way people treated this dark stretch of history," she said. "I started writing the same night I saw the movie. The girl in the red coat in the movie is a symbol of all the children killed during the Nazi regime. In Poland alone, 1.5 million were killed. The movie experiences the character and mine are identical, with one important difference: I survived. I lived to tell the story of what a childhood like that can do to a person. "

Apart from having the opinion of a survivor of how the Second World War was experienced in Poland, I think it is important to know the opinion of the rest of the public, and how they have perceived this sequence.

As the sequence I chose is uploaded to YouTube, I have been able to access the opinion of several people throughout the world and know what they think about this sequence:

"The impact on the movie that her red dress has is… indescribable."

“This movie was probably one of the saddest I've ever seen. You can't watch the movie without crying "

“The children singing in the background when people are killed and Schindler is watching is chilling. This film can be considered masterful cinema. "

"This is the most powerful scene in the movie and possible of many movies, which becomes even more powerful when you see its remains later in the movie in the cart."

Comments obtained from YouTube.

I chose this sequence from this film for work because I had heard a lot about it and this iconic scene, I have to say that I had seen it before taking this course and had not gotten the main message of this scene. Having studied this subject and then having been able to analyze this scene, my perception of it has completely changed.

By analyzing plane by shot what in my opinion were most important, I have been able to see the great work and great choices that must be made to make a film that shows so much without using color and the great impact that a single color can have on the film .

When we go to see a movie normally our brain does not stop to think what type of shot is being used and what it is transmitting to us, we simply focus on watching the movie. Like many times we are not aware of the impact that a tune can have on a scene.

I think that with this work I have learned to value the great work that is behind each sequence and I will take that into account when watching the films from now on.

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IMDB. (s.f.). Schindler’s List. Retrieved from
Oskar Schindler. (s.f.). The girl in Red. Retrieved from
Real lives: A red coat in the Krakow ghetto. (2002, November 16). Retrieved from
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). Schindler's List Analysis. Retrieved from
Sparknotes. (s.f.). Schindler's list. Retrieved from
Sparknotes. (s.f.). Schindler's list. Retrieved from
SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993). (s.f.) Obtained from
MOVIECLIPS, 2011. The Girl In Red - Schindler's List (3/9) Movie CLIP (1993) HD. [online] Youtube. Retrieved from


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