30 years ago, the first minutes of this Spielberg film hit the audience right in the heart – Cinema News

30 years ago, the first minutes of this Spielberg film hit the audience right in the heart – Cinema News
30 years ago, the first minutes of this Spielberg film hit the audience right in the heart – Cinema News

A look back at the masterful introduction to “Schindler’s List” and the power of the images Steven Spielberg chose to open his most moving film.

7 Oscars, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Music for the poignant score by an imperial John Williams, an undeniable monument of cinema since its release in theaters in 1993, a colossal challenge courageously taken up by a Steven Spielberg more determined than ever…

Schindler’s List is not only one of its director’s greatest works, but also one of the best feature films of all time (at least according to AlloCiné viewers, who gave it an average of 4.59 out of 5, and therefore second place in their general ranking).

The first scene of Schindler’s List

In this 3-hour 15-minute fresco, shot entirely in black and white (with a few unforgettable exceptions), there is no shortage of sequences that are designed to remain forever etched in the memory. Between the terrifying liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, the fascinating face-offs between Oskar Schindler and Amon Göth, and of course the overwhelming final sequence, Spielberg’s film strings together great cinematic moments.

But let’s go back today to the first seconds of the feature film which, from the start, strike the audience with power, and immediately capture their attention and never let go.


Universal Pictures

A candle in the dark

In the total darkness, a match is struck, and from its fragile flame, two candles are lit. As their wax burns, without the slightest music, to the sound of the Sabbath blessing, the color of the image gradually fades, and the film gradually switches to black and white.

The final glow of the last candle eventually fades, and the thin plume of smoke it produces is suddenly replaced by the thick cloud of a locomotive, a particularly sinister omen given the subject the film is about to tackle.

Brilliant and chilling at the same time, this masterful ellipsis has nothing to envy the one that, in Lawrence of Arabia, summoned the desert sun by blowing out the flame of a match. With a single shot of rare power, from the first seconds of his film, Spielberg already presents us with the two forces that are about to oppose each other, the absolute drama that is about to be played out, the story that he is about to tell us.


Universal Pictures

“A glimmer of hope.”

Rich and deep enough to offer each viewer their own way of interpreting it, the first shot of the film (which is therefore one of the only ones in color with the unforgettable little girl in red) was inspired by Spielberg at the end of filming, while he was filming a Shabbat ceremony.

“That gave me the idea to start the film with candles being lit. I thought it would be a strong contrast to start the film with a normal Shabbat service before the steamroller against the Jews starts.”he had said to Entertainment Weekly in 1994also explaining that for him, the candles (at the beginning but also at the end of the film) represented “a reflection of color”, “a glimmer of hope” in the middle of his only black and white film.

(Re)discover our video dedicated to Steven Spielberg…

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