Elie Wiesel’s book “Night” and Steven Spielberg’s movie “Schindler’s List”
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March 20, 1941, the Krakow ghetto is liquidated. 1942, German oppression spills into Transylvania, the Sighet ghetto is liquidated. Two seemingly unrelated events in a plethora of death and oppression. However, both are turning points in two of the most stunningly horrific accounts of the Holocaust; Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, and Elie Wiesel’s Night. There are many similarities between the two accounts some of which will be outlined in this paper.
In Night evil is personified in many ways. One of the Jews in a concentration camp says, “I’ve got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He’s the only one who’s kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.” This statement seems to be made from an existentialist point of view, almost saying that the only thing in life for certain is death. This seems to be comparing Hitler to an evil but God-like figure that has power over the Jew’s death. Hitler, at this point in the novel, is evil personified to the Jews. The SS, or more specifically all the Swastika bearing personnel, also seem to be an everyday evil for the Jews. They are constantly afraid of the SS and it is the SS that separate them from their families with, “Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight short, simple words…Men to the left! Women to the right!” The exact scene occurred many times during the course of the Holocaust, one such occurrence was in the Plaszow concentration camp, shown during the movie Schindler’s List.
Schindler’s List is Spielberg’s award winning masterpiece- a three-hour long epic of the nightmarish holocaust. Schindler’s List is completely in black and white (except for the bookend scenes, and the girl with the red coat), which adds a sense of despair to the movie, almost as if life inside the concentration camps was without happiness or color. Another thing that defined the incarceration of the Jews, in Schindler’s List, was the lack of any animals, but the attack dogs. There are no birds, or any other such animals that would inspire any type of happiness or envy, its almost as if everything but the attack dogs had died or more likely been killed. Also the scene in which the men and the women were separated was particularly sad, as they weren’t reunited until Schindler saved a select few of them from their demise.
The book Night, like Schindler’s List is relatively devoid of color. Color describing adjectives are seldomly used, more often used are shade-like adjectives such as “dark” giving the book a “black and white” feel to it. Night plays a special role in both the book and the movie. The Jews first see the crematories at night in both the book and the movie. There is a clear juxtaposition of the Jew’s nights, as seen in Schindler’ List and Night, and the Nazi’s nights. The Jew’s huddle close together and tell horrific stories, while the Nazi’s party and drink. The Jew’s terror makes the Nazi’s celebration seem even more barbaric.
The Nationalist-Socialist party, or the Nazi’s were not a militant group until they were poisoned by Hitler who made them into anti-Semite barbarians. The evil of the Germans was so oppressive that many of the Jews began to take on existentialist views, believing that life is nothing without death, and that death is the only thing that defines life. Constant pain and suffering dehumanized the Jews, reducing them to animals, acting only upon the instinct to survive. More than 6 million of those Jews didn’t survive, but some 900 did due to Oskar Schindler.