Explain how Steven Speilberg uses lavish costumes in Schindler's List to create not only a product of visual extremes, but also an explanation of human conscience.

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Some of the best imagery in Schindler's List to illuminate the polarities of being in the Holocaust is through the use of costumes.  The finely pressed and tailor made garments of the Germans like Schindler and the Nazis are contrasted with the "striped pajamas" of those who were imprisoned by the Nazis. The elaborate dress and costume of the Nazis and Germans, complete with accessories and the ultimate in craftsmanship is contrasted with the condition of the Jewish people, some of whom made the very clothes their aggressors wear.  This helps to explain much in terms of the articulation of human conscience during the Holocaust. When Goeth meets Schindler for the first time and comments on the "sheen" of his suit, Schindler responds with the terse, "I would give you the name of the tailor, but he's probably dead."  Through this mere exchange on costumes, a telling fact about the Holocaust is revealed in terms of life and death and the position of power that determined both.

Costumes play a vital role in Schindler's characterization.  They also assist in the explanation of his own human conscience.  As Schindler sees the liquidation of the ghetto in the most direct and painful of terms, his eye is caught by the girl in the red petticoat.  She stands out in a world of black and white.  Schindler follows this girl throughout the liquidation, his eyes entranced with this red petticoat.  There is not much aesthetically lavish about the costume, but its deep hue of red in a black and white condition help to evoke much in both Schindler's view of humanity as well as what the Nazis are perpetrating in the Holocaust.  When Schindler sees the work camp being burned and eliminated, amongst the corpses is the red petticoated girl.  The petticoat is still red, but covered with a film of human ashes and the girl herself has been killed.  Through the use of costume, this moment helps to bring out human conscience being awakened.  Schindler's transformation takes a strong pivot after this moment.  The manner in which the camera captures the petticoated girl and Schindler's reaction is lavish in its evoking of human conscience.  It is at this point in which one sees how costumes play a vital role in the film's conceptualization of human conscience.

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Explain how Steven Spielberg uses appropriate music in Schindler's List to create not only an entertaining product of visual extremes, but also an explanation of human conscience.

The orchestral nature to Williams' scoring of Spielberg's film helps to bring out the immense sense of drama and emotional intensity that is an intrinsic part of the Holocaust.  Williams' score uses orchestral background, choral recitations, as well as the overall scope of vast sound to help illuminate the condition of the Holocaust.  This is seen in the tracks of "Immolation (With Our Lives, We Give Life)"  and "Making the List."  At the same time, Williams does not lose sight of the individual voice that makes the Holocaust so powerful a moment in human history.  In the midst of massive historical change and genocide, there is an individual voice within each narrative of suffering that makes the Holocaust difficult to face and impossible from which to turn.  The use of the clarinet in "Schindler's Workforce" as well as Perlman's violin in multiple tracks that evokes the  "sincerity of [his] street-corner style of lament" is representative of this.  Interestingly enough, this same motif is evident in the use of Kilar's "Exodus" for the original trailer of the film.  There is the use of the orchestra to help convey the large scope of human cruelty and tragedy accompanied by the individual and solitary instrument, in this case again the clarinet, that helps to evoke what it means to suffer in a state of lament.

It is precisely in the large scope of the music combined with the individual frame of reference that helps to add to the cinematic quality, but the thematic purpose of exploring human conscience.  The Holocaust is a study of mass death.  The graves as well as the genocidal forms of death is of the largest of scopes possible.  Yet, in each of the bodies lives someone's father, someone's  mother, someone's child.  The camera only captures a portion of the genocide and within each body, one thinks of the life that person led and the end they had to face with their own eyes.  It is here in which one sees how Schindler himself is shown to have undergone a transformation of human consciences.  The burning of the bodies fill his eyes with ultimate horror.  However, it is the recognition of one particular dead body that causes him to see the Holocaust in a different light.  The girl in the red petticoat is what helps to move Schindler into a different frame of reflection.  It is the recognition of one life lost that causes him to save hundreds.  The music reflects this change in conscience.  From the multitudes, one exists.  From the most personal frame of reference, universal truth can be understood.  The juxtaposition of orchestral arrangement along with the singly and solitary voice of individual instrument configuration helps to bring about this explanation of human conscience.

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Explain how Steven Spielberg uses extravagant settings in  Schindler's List to create not only an entertaining product of visual extremes, but also an explanation of human conscience.

The settings of the film help to bring out the fundamental differences in basic living for those who were in the position of power in the Holocaust and those who were not.  Consider the moment when Schindler moves into his new home.  Once occupied by well- to- do Jewish people, Schindler surveys his home and then, relaxing on his bed, looks up and says, "It could not be better."  The immediate cut that follows is the family that used to live in what is no Schindler's home, looking at one another and remarking, "It could always be worse."  This statement is a stunning reminder as to how settings in the Holocaust reveals life lived in it.  For those who were in the position of power, such as wealthy Germans or Nazi officials, life truly was good.  "It could not be better" summarized the homes they lived in, the parties they attended, and how their surroundings were representative of opulence and grandeur.  For those who were being persecuted, the movement into the ghettos, the cramped conditions of three or four families living in one area, and, of course, the progression from concentration camps to death camps represents how setting reflected so much of reality.  The use of setting in the film starts the process of examination as to the different experiences of life during the Holocaust.

This is evident in the flim's setting of Plaszow.  Goeth lives in a villa, perched high on a hill.  In this setting, there is the best wine, the most decadent of celebrations, and a life where the finer elements are demanded and appreciated.  The care that Goeth shows towards the cleaning of a horse saddle and a bathtub are reflective of this.  Yet, as Goeth gets up in the morning, stands on his balcony with fine cigarettes, he takes his rifle and shoots at the prisoners of the camp.  His bullets find random targets, shot down as animals on a hunt.  Plaszow for those who live under Goeth's villa and his reign is a hell.  The lice that infects the prisoners, the bunks that hold multiple people in one section, and the difficulty of life is brought out in the setting of the camp.  This is contrasted with life on the hill, in Goeth's villa.  Such a display of setting reflects how there is a difference in reality in both those who were perpetrators of the Holocaust and those who were victims of it.  Human conscience is shown to permit both realities until someone like Schindler, in the position of power, is able to initiate change to it.  

The setting of the final scene where Schindler says farewell to his workers is one in which he crumbles to the ground, the ground where Jewish workers walk and toil.  His emotional disintegration into tears with his workers embracing him is a setting in which there has been resolution.  Individuals have found a moral ground in which there is both pain and comfort, with the terror of the Holocaust looming as a lesson to be learned.  It is here in which the final scene helps to reach an explanation of human conscience.

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Explain how Steven Spielberg uses extravagant settings in Saving Private Ryan to create not only an entertaining product of visual extremes, but also an explanation of human conscience.

I'm not sure Spielberg uses extravagant settings in Saving Private Ryan; his sets are WWII beaches, battlefields and villages, which is accurate to history and the fact-based tale he is telling. Spielberg does, however, use extravagant, state-of-the-art visuals to depict the horrors of war in a you-are-there docudramatic approach. 

One of the most arresting visual choices Spielberg makes is the use of shaky, hand-held camera; lenser Janusz Kaminsky and his team would run amongst the soldiers to create a chaotic, orderless mess of images.

In addition, he uses a sepia-toned film stock that often captures lens flares to create a 1940's newsreel feel. The film is practically colorless though it is shot in color; Spielberg is underscoring the brutality of war with muted tones and gray, dreary, muddy shots of the rainy spring.

Spielberg uses two major set pieces to tell his story. First is the opening Omaha beach invasion by the Allies, a magnificent 30-minute Guernica-like tapestry of bloodshed, mayhem, and death. The swirling hand-held camera has a dizzying effect and the red waters and severed limbs from the perspective of a soldier combines to make the most accurate depiction of D-Day ever committed to the screen.

The second set piece is the battle at the bridge, which is a war movie staple, from The Bridge on the River Kwai to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. But this is no minor homage. Spielberg again uses this set piece to show the heroism of the troupe in seperate stories as the soldiers branch out to vanquish the enemy Nazi brigade. 

In between these two sets pieces are more languid visuals which underscore the boredom of war in between battles. The greenery of the French countryside is brought to life and shots are more static and composed as we listen to conversations and watch characters develop. 

As to human consciousness, the film visages the two sides of war: the chaotic darkness of combat and the youthful energy of the inexperienced soldier; the juxtaposition makes us ask at what price is glory yet firmly argues that some battles, in spite of the innocent lives lost, are worth fighting. 

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