After viewing Kirby Dick’s documentary The Hunting Ground, to me it was the most powerful documentary we have viewed all year. Throughout the entire documentary, hearing story after story about how so many people were raped, yet almost none of them received any sort of action from their respective college or university which shocked and disturbed me. Additionally, I believe the documentary was more relatable to me due to the fact that all of the people who had been the victims in the film were also college students who never thought they would be victims and survivors of rape, which is definitely a scary thought. The documentary was also very effective for the people who were interviewed for the documentary all went to different schools and all had their own story, making the documentary more relatable to more people in my opinion. Not to mention, while the documentary was about a very serious topic and was extremely serious, shocking, and disturbing at some points, Kirby also decided to incorporate some humor into the film which I appreciated for it lightened up the mood and the appalling stories of the women and men who were interviewed for the documentary. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Hunting Ground and believe that more parents, students, and college faculty members should see the documentary to raise awareness about the issue.
After watching both documentaries, I believe the two documentaries had very different style. I believe Miss Representation wanted to try and change women’s portrayal in the media, while Panopticon was to make people aware of the lack of privacy we have due to surveillance cameras, the Internet, and more. Additionally, I believe that Miss Representation interviewed not only more people to try and demonstrate Newsom’s point, but also interviewed more experts, people in powerful positions, and first-hand experiencers of the problem Newsom was addressing. In Panopticon, Vlemmix interviewed several experts, as well as everyday people. While both documentaries were effective and made the point they wanted to, I thought Miss Representation was more of an effective documentary. For me, this was due to the fact that Newsom gathered more opinions and perspectives about women’s portrayal in the media, which made it more relatable to me and kept the documentary more interesting. In addition, I believe Newsom’s documentary showed more passion and wanted to spark change, whereas Vlemmix’s documentary tried to make us more aware and sort of scare us instead of spark change.
After watching Panopticon, the facts presented in the film kind of shocked me. While I knew Facebook, Google, and many other search engines or forms of social media can gather tons of information on all of their users, it was surprising to actually hear what kind of information the Internet can gather from individuals. Additionally, even though a majority of the information and data received through the Internet is looked at, it is still kind of scary to know they have access to a lot of our information.
Furthermore another thing I found interesting about the film was the privacy those in the Netherlands had as compared to other countries. In the Netherlands they practically have cameras everywhere and as shown in the beginning of the film when Vlemmix goes into the liquor store and they have a person through a computer verify his identification, showing they have minimal privacy. However, while the Netherlands is very active on spending money on this technology to prevent crimes, not only have their crime rates gone down, but people in the Netherlands trust their government the most out of any European country, which I find surprising due to the fact that it appeared as if they had little to no privacy. I believe this is due to the fact that the Dutch people have become used to these policies, have trusted their government for awhile, and believe as if they have nothing to hide, which is what many people said in individual interviews. Finally, another thing I found interesting was when these cameras, trackers, etc. were placed in Germany, the people strongly resented the new technology, while the people in the Netherlands just accept it now.
While watching Miss Representation, both the statistics and the stories of some women in which Newsom decided to include in her documentary definitely shocked me. Not to mention, it seemed that every field of media, whether it be politics, music, film, etc. seemed to have its own way of somehow being slightly sexist or extremely sexist (depending on the situation.) I also thought how it was very interesting how Newsom was able to interview so many powerful and respected women in the world today, such as Condoleezza Rice, which I found to be very interesting.
However, there were some things about the film which I believed could have made it even more effective. I believe the documentary could’ve been more effective if she showed more clips of music videos or from films. In the documentary she did show a lot of clips from politics, however whenever there were clips from movies or music videos they would last for maybe half a second and then cut to another music video or film clip, not allowing the audience to fully see how certain movies could misrepresent women. I also believed that while her own story was very sad, I feel as if she did not really explain how the media is affecting her daughter, she just said it has the possibility of affecting her daughter. Newsom also explained her own story in a very monotone voice, which made her seem as if she was not very passionate about the material, which I found surprising for she made this entire, powerful documentary on the issue yet when she was telling her own story she seemed as if she was not passionate about it or was upset by the issue.
In the beginning of the film right after Benjamin has graduated college, he is very stressed out for he does not know what to do in his life. Not to mention, due to his prior accomplishments, he has a lot of pressure to try and outdo what he has already done. However, in Benjamin’s life before he graduated, he had a clear cut path in front of him of what he needed to do; he basically followed what was typical and what his parents wanted to do. After graduating, he did not have this path, and was unsure of what he wanted to do.
However, once Benjamin started seeing Mrs. Robinson, his character changed. He was doing something he wanted to do, not something that was typical or what his parents wanted him to do. Due to this relationship, Benjamin did not only “change” from a boy to a man due to the sexual interaction between the two, but because he was doing something for himself, and people recognized it; his parents kept on bugging him about what he was doing at night and everyone at the hotel he consistently stayed at recognized him. Not to mention at the end of the movie, Benjamin realized that he wanted to marry Elaine because he loved her, not because his parents wanted him to and definitely not because the Robinsons wanted him too. Based on this, while the ending is unclear about what happens to Benjamin and Elaine, Benjamin definitely developed as his own individual throughout the film.
In The Sandman, two things that stood out to me about the sound were the parallelism the director included, as well as the synchronous sound. With parallelism, the entire film had a creepy and eery vibe; the lighting was very dark, the way the characters looked and acted, and they were in an old, creaky house. The creepiness that the director included was strongly emphasized by the musical scores he decided to include, for the music was making it seem that something was going to happen to the little kid (which eventually did), and it also generally gave off a sketchy vibe, making the combination of the sound and the creepiness of the setting and characters very effective. Additionally, the synchronous sound the director included also added to the overall creepy feel. For example, when both the little kid and The Sandman were going up the stairs to the kids bedroom, the stairs creaked, which in film is typically viewed as very creepy and spooky. Also once the wind blew open the window, the slam of the window and the roar of the wind not only scared the kid, but it made the audience wonder if something was about to happen to him.
One important type of editing we talked about in class today was elliptical editing. Elliptical editing makes it that an event’s duration on-screen is shorter than its duration in the story and in character development. Many directors utilize elliptical editing simply to compress the length of a film, and to develop the story in as little time as possible. An example of elliptical editing could be a man on a journey; he could be walking through different landscapes and weather conditions every time the shot dissolves, until he reaches his destination.
However, another way in which I believe elliptical editing can be used is to convey emotions. For example, when we initially brought up the point of elliptical editing, I immediately thought of the Pixar movie “Up”. In the movie, elliptical editing was used at the beginning of the film to summarize Elle and Carl’s relationship as it progressed from when they were young kids to them growing old together eventually leading to Elle’s death. The elliptical editing used not only to compress the length of their story, but I also believed that the director decided to include the elliptical editing to spark emotion among the audience and get the audience to sympathize and realize the loneliness Carl was going through at the time.
One scene which we did not bring up yesterday was the opening scene. In the opening scene there was a woman dancing to the song “Fight The Power” by Public Enemy. One thing I noticed was though we couldn’t directly tell what color skin both of the woman had, it appeared as if in one of the scenes the woman’s skin tone was lighter than the other. When her skin appeared lighter, she was wearing an elegant red dress dancing in front of a nice brownstone apartment, while the woman who appeared to have darker skin was dancing in front of a wall with graffiti on it, while wearing boxing clothes, possibly implying that she was fighting the power. Also, the boxing gloves and attire could symbolize the fighting and disagreement between the two races.