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"The Girl in Red" is a character talked about as much as the movie itself! However, I don't exactly understand the significance of the character itself and the usage of the color.

The Girl in Red

Wikipedia mentions that

Spielberg said the scene was intended to symbolise how members of the highest levels of government in the United States knew the Holocaust was occurring, yet did nothing to stop it

and also

...the red symbolises "innocence, hope or the red blood of the Jewish people being sacrificed in the horror of the Holocaust.

Maybe the usage of the color Red is justified by associating it with the blood and suffering of the Jewish people. I am looking for interpretations of the character and the way it was portrayed?

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@Ankit Sharma: Please let the film-techniques tag remain as the portrayal of the girl in red is a technique being employed to make a point. – KeyBrd Basher Dec 31 '13 at 6:06
Kind of disagree with it but if you feel its imp for your question then, ok ;) – Ankit Sharma Dec 31 '13 at 7:47

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There is a simple explanation.

The highlighting if the child in red (in an otherwise monochrome movie) was designed to put one thread of horror for one identifiable character in the midst of mass slaughter which would otherwise just numb the audience. In purely dramatic terms this creates a sense of identification for the audience who now have a human scale story of the elimination of an obviously innocent life. This creates a point of empathy and connection for the audience which is far more powerful and emotionally impactful than the statistics of mass slaughter.

I think the use of red also helps to highlight Schindler's recognition of the true depths of horror he has witnessed. We notice Schindler's recognition of the dead girl because of the red highlight when, with no highlight, we would miss his identification of the girl in a pile of undifferentiated corpses. As a result the audience follows a single poignant human story that enhances the emotional impact of the brutality of the slaughter and it understands Schindler's emotional and moral journey through a single human story.

Spielberg may well have intended other layers on top of this, but the core essential purpose was to have a better impact on the audience. Any other intentions would have been meaningless had he not achieved that goal.

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Good answer. Why red though? – coleopterist Dec 24 '13 at 15:15
Nice Answer! But then if the core purpose was to create a sense of identification, why not show the girl in color, face, hands etc. I guess that would make her stick out even more! – KeyBrd Basher Dec 24 '13 at 15:32
My understanding was, Spielberg made the movie in B&W because of these scenes. You ask why red? What sticks out better than red. Blue or green would not have the same effect. Yellow might have, but Red is the true color of terror. Good answer, Matt. – Paulster2 Dec 25 '13 at 3:48
@KeyBrdBasher I'm not sure that making the girl all colour would be effective even for highlighting. The benefit of the coat is that the colour contrast is stark; muted flesh tones would not be. – matt_black Dec 25 '13 at 18:37

I completely disagree with what matt_black has written. The color in this scene was a distraction. It removed me from the film rather than providing something to identify with. That scene puzzled me but I quickly dismissed it and moved on with the story.

It is a cliche in photography and cinematography to use a spot of color in black & white film. I do not believe Spielberg would risk making such a mistake with a film so personally important to him. I take his word for what he intended, the red was symbolic rather than intended as a link to our emotions. He had skillfully used the entire film to hook us in with every scene. He did not need a gimmick for that purpose.

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That's all fine and sundry, the red was deliberate. We all agree on that! But what did he intend to achieve with it, that is the question! – KeyBrd Basher Dec 29 '14 at 6:27

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