Compare and contrast the extravagant settings used in Steven Spielberg's movies Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List to create not only an entertaining product of visual extremes, but also an...
Compare and contrast the extravagant settings used in Steven Spielberg's movies Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List to create not only an entertaining product of visual extremes, but also an explanation of human conscience.
extravagant: -exceeding the bounds of reason.
-going beyond what is deserved or justifiable
One could easily take issue with the suggestion that the sets used in either of Steven Spielberg's films, "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan," qualify as "extravagant." On the contrary, the production of both films involved an extraordinary level of attention to detail, as is common is high budget "prestige" films. Spielberg routinely uses talented crews to design sets and costumes, employing technical consultants (individuals with first-hand experience of the subject matter or scholars) to assist in ensuring the greatest degree of accuracy.
To compare the set designs in the two films, then, is relatively simple. Great attention to historical accuracy was used in both instances, with exterior filming done on location, meaning film crew scouted locations that would look most authentic when filmed. That meant filming in Europe, especially in Poland in the case of "Schindler's List." In that film, Spielberg's production designer, Allan Starski, and his art department (including an unfortunately named Ewa Braun), scouted locations that were as historically accurate and authentic as they could find.
More so with "Schindler's List" than with "Saving Private Ryan," set design was integral to the ability of Spielberg and his crew to capture the "feel" of Nazi-occupied Poland. The use of black and white photography helped, but the construction of sets representing the concentration camp, the factories in which the Jews labored, and their living conditions were all designed to convey as well as possible the misery of these peoples' existence. Contrast that with the opulence of the homes of German Army officers and the restaurants and night clubs in which they were entertained, as well as with Oskar Schindler's life style, and the effect is all the more dramatic.
In the case of "Saving Private Ryan," set design was less integral to the ability of Spielberg to tell his story. The outdoor locations used for the combat scenes were carefully chosen for authenticity, but Mother Nature did most of that work. More important were the sets depicting towns and villages destroyed in the fighting, a vivid reminder of the toll war takes on civilians. Bombed out buildings and cratered roads and fields evoke the dread with which civilians lived at that time -- the constant fear of another bombing raid from the air or shelling from distant artillery pieces.
In short, the two films, while both depicting aspects of World War II, otherwise have little in common from the perspective of set design.