What are the major themes of "Schindler's List"? How do the opening sequences prepare the audience for these?.
The film Schindler's List is set during the period of World War II, and the director Steven Spielberg focuses on the devesting holocaust of the Jews. The film is shown similar to that of a documentary and takes neither a Jewish nor German view, but rather just depicts the sheer horror of the war, and the suffering of those involved. It is shown mainly in black and white, with the exception of the opening and closing scenes, and on a few occasions when Spielberg bleeds colour in to show that even the innocence of a young child, could not escape the sheer horror of the holocaust. The Film revolves around the main character, Oskar Schindler, a nazi who eventually is seen to be a hero and a saviour of the later "Schindler Jews". Through the movie we see Spielberg explore his character and his motivation. From the opening scene we see many of these major themes presented to the audience.
The Film opens with an extreme close up of a hand lighting three candles in a Jewish household. We are presented with this Jewish family then saying a Jewish prayer over a table on a Friday night, the night before the Sabbath. This scene then fades out, and the Jews have disappeared, leaving the table empty with the three candles burning out. There is then another close up in which we see one of the candles burnout into a cloud of smoke. From this scene the audience is prepared to see the extermination of the Jews to follow. The candle represents the Jewish population, and the burning of these candles is a symbol of the holocaust, which will soon follow. The image of smoke is similar to the smoke we later see coming from the concentration camps later in the film. THUS SMOKE COMES TO SYMBOLISE DEATH .
Secondly we see this cloud of smoke from the burnt out candle transform into the next scene in which we see this same image of smoke coming from a train pulling into a station in Poland.