How the Use of the Color Red Simultaneously Evokes a Sense of Both Life and Death in ‘Schindler’s List’

In a rufescent episode of Now You See It, host Jack Nugent explores the use of the color red to convey a variety of emotions that are all very passionate in nature. He notes that the color evokes reaction and points to the heartbreaking scene in the 1993 Steven Spielberg film Schindler’s List.

The scene was completely in black and white, but for the sight of a little girl in a red coat wandering through the streets looking for a place to hide. At first this little girl seemed to be offering a bit of hope, however the same red coat is seen later in the film on the body of the presumably same child, dashing that hope and replacing it with rage and sorrow. Spielberg masterfully employed the color within that film to create a conflicting and vastly uncomfortable sense of both life and death simultaneously in order to convey the horrors that took place during the Holocaust.

Red is without a doubt the most symbolic color. So how do filmmakers use it to elevate the visual impact of their movies? Through the lens of the symbolic masterpiece Schindler’s List, let’s explore all the history and power packed in such a vibrant color.

Here’s the scene from the film featuring the little girl in the red coat.