The “red coat girl” said she’s traumatized by her role in the acclaimed film Schindler’s List, though the young actress didn’t understand the extent of the film’s dark story until many years later.
Oliwia Dabrowska was four years old when she appeared in Steven Spielberg‘s epic movie about the Holocaust. When she finally did watch the movie about seven years later, the “red coat girl” said she was traumatized.
“It was too horrible,” Dabrowska told the UK’s The Guardian. “I could not understand much, but I was sure that I didn’t want to watch ever again in my life.”
Steven Spielberg apparently tried to warn the “red coat girl” that she might be traumatized if she tried to watch Schindler’s List before she was mature enough to understand it. The movie, which tells the story of factory owner Oskar Schindler and his attempts to save Jews from being sent to concentration camps, does not shy away from realistic scenes of genocide.
The feelings of shock subsided for Dabrowska. She said she watched Schindler’s List again when she was 18 and felt proud to be involved, Yahoo! News noted.
Dabrowska plays an important role in the film, though her on-screen time was limited. Schindler’s List was filmed primarily in black-and-white, but the coat that Dabrowska wore was red. She is shown later in the film among a group of dead Jewish people, recognized to the audience by her red coat.
The “red coat girl” from the movie was believed to be based on Roma Logocka, a real girl known among the Krakow Ghetto for her red coat. But Logocka survived the Holocaust, and after Schindler’s List was released she wrote a book called The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir.
Though the character may have had a historical basis, film critics see another motivation for her inclusion — to show a change in the movie’s title character, Oskar Schindler.
“Spielberg put a twist on her [Ligocka’s] story, turning her into one more pile on the cart of corpses to be incinerated,” said Andy Patrizio of IGN. “The look on Schindler’s face is unmistakable. Minutes earlier, he saw the ash and soot of burning corpses piling up on his car as just an annoyance.”
Listed in the Internet Movie Database as “Red Genia,” Dabrowska’s character speaks no lines in the movie.
Dabrowska appeared in one other film, but will be remembered for her role in Schindler’s List. Critics have said that her small part added a tragic dimension to the story that allowed victims to become people rather than numbers, and as a result many see Schindler’s List as one of the most haunting movies of all time.
So if the “red coat girl” is traumatized by her part in Schindler’s List, it’s likely many more people are as well.