Introducing Schindler’s List

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An interesting aspect of Schindler’s List is that director Steven Spielberg decided not to plan the film with storyboards, and to shoot the film like a documentary. Spielberg shot forty percent of the film with handheld cameras. The film had a relatively modest budget of $25 million which meant that it had to be shot quickly over seventy-two days. Spielberg felt that this gave the film “a spontaneity, an edge, and it also serves the subject.” Spielberg said that he “got rid of the crane, got rid of the Steadicam, got rid of the zoom lenses, and got rid of everything that for me might be considered a safety net.” Using this style made Spielberg feel more artistic, and he limited his tools because he felt Schindler’s List didn’t have to be commercially successful. This approach matured Spielberg as a director and it meant that he looked less to other directors and that he developed his own filming style. Spielberg deliberately used no crane shots in Schindler’s List.

The decision to shoot the film mainly in black and white was made to create a documentary feel to the film. Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński said that he wanted to give a timeless sense to the film, so the audience would “not have a sense of when it was made.” Spielberg said, “virtually everything I’ve seen on the Holocaust… have largely been stark, black and white images.” Film company chairman Tom Pollock asked Spielberg to shoot the film in a colour negative, to allow colour copies of the film to be sold, but Spielberg did not want “to beautify events.”

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