The mainstream use of color in film occurred in the 1940's. The use of color in film is on a subconscious level. A scene in which warm colors (red, yellow, orange) are used to suggest passionate emotions i.e. love, aggressiveness, fear; while cool colors (blue, green, and purple) suggests the happier emotions i.e. peace, love, tranquility. In Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List he uses the albescence of color (black and white) to set the mood of one of civilizations most dark and depressing moments in history. .
The lack of color brings more balance between the darkness of Nazi's concentration camps and the historical feel we get. This movie is a great story about surviving through the darkest time in the history of men and it is about forgiveness, mercy and lack of sympathy. It is a cruel portrait about the horror Adolph Hitler's political party and army caused to the Jews. It is paints a picture of Jewish culture in Middle Europe and a great view of the crash of two different cultures and political conflicts.
Schindler's List is predominantly filmed in black and white, which makes the cinematography of Janusz Kaminski work so effectively. The symbolic aspect of Spielberg's use of black and white is its comparison between good and evil. Black and white are the two most contrasting values, each being on the opposite side of the spectrum much like that of the demeanors of good and evil. .
Filming it in black and white was ingenious because of the realistic qualities it brought to the scene. For example, the scene where the ghettos are being liquidated black and white color is effective in generating the feel of realism. In this particular example the shots of the Jewish residents fleeing like rats to save their lives seem less like a piece of a movie and more like stock footage from the 1940's you"d see on the History Channel. Spielberg's techniques succeed because they impact the audience with the same emotions a person would have if he/she were to actually to watch Hitler's attempts at genocide in real life.