Documentary film essay topics
It is not just to "touch and engage the mind, but [to] facilitate active behavioral engagement", for example in terms of an active change in behavior patterns or in the form of political support For this "climate change and the actions proposed to affect it are made personal, local and urgent" and members of the audience have to be put into a position in which they can "translate their values and motivations into action" This can be achieved by pointing out simple solutions and the personal benefits which can be gained by acting accordingly, but also by "linking engagement with deeply held values such as patriotism, national security, being a good neighbor or team player, self-sufficiency, etc.
Finally, the third purpose of communication is to "bring about changes in social norms and cultural values" This kind of change is on the one hand the most difficult to achieve, on the other hand however, it is necessary for consistent long-term improvement. As a second crucial factor for the success of the communication it must be paid attention to who the audience is. It has already been mentioned that the audience will in most cases be heterogeneous and people will come from different backgrounds and have various levels of interest in the matter.
Adaptation to the audience's needs is therefore required on the side of the speaker as "different audiences require distinct frames, goals, messages, and [also] messengers" The framing of the topic presented is very closely linked to this last point. The ways in which something is framed give it its inner structure, define its influence on the audience and the degree to which we get emotionally involved.
Put differently, "frames construct a problem, provide a perspective from which to interpret it, [ They are created with and supported by the help of metaphors, symbols, gestures, tone of voice or body language of the speaker or an emotional soundtrack and are always audience-dependent, i. Therefore, adaptation in this point is also necessary. The message, or rather the complexity and degree of detail to which the message is presented, is again subject to the composition of the audience. A message, in order to be believable, should always be "internally consistent in all aspects" , i.
This seems to be a difficult task to fulfil seeing that there are in fact scientific climate change models that express opposite views. According to Moser however, this "does not mean that scientific uncertainty cannot be acknowledged", only that "the main message and emphasis of a communication [ Additionally, messages must "resonate with the target audience through the language used, the values to which the message appeals, and the social aspirations of the audience" If a message fails to do so, cognitive problems can arise which make the message in itself less believable and also have a negative effect on its power of persuasion.
In order to be fully effective, the message also has to create a 'mental model' in the audiences' mind. These mental models are "simplified cognitive constructs", which help people to understand a phenomenon like climate change. The main task of the message is therefore to make what is difficult to understand clearer; "the distant problem[s of climate change] must be brought home"; the invisible must be made visible; "solutions must be illustrated [and the] perceived and real barriers to action must be shown as something [which is possible to be overcome]" Messages will never stand on their own but will always be accompanied by the use of imagery, tone of voice and the creation of emotions with the help of "pictures, symbols, color schemes, and music" , all of which can have a stronger impact on the audience than the spoken words alone.
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As a last point, messages must also ensure that the audience stays attentive. For this, various possible stylistic devices may be used, e. As already mentioned, the effectiveness of the communication is of course not only dependent on the purpose, the message, the framing and the audience, but it is also very much dependent on the messenger.
Credibility, trustworthiness and the character and moral beliefs of the speaker are the main points here, which can influence how successful the communication is in the end. The speaker stands personally responsible for the accuracy and credibility of the message. However, not each person will have the same effect on an audience.
A scientist for example will be more believable to an audience when speaking on a scientific topic than someone who is no expert in this area speaking on the same topic to the same audience. It has been discovered that "trust in the messenger is a strong mediating influence on how people interpret the knowledge conveyed to them", as well as the fact that "people accept and trust messages more readily when conveyed by people with similar views" Additionally, trust in the speaker or messenger is also dependent on the degree to which the messenger and the way in which the message is framed work together.
As an example of this, Moser states that for this reason for example "religious leaders may be trusted as climate change communicators if the issue is framed as a moral one, but not necessarily if the issue is framed as a security, scientific or energy issue" As a last point, the choice of mode written, verbal or non-verbal , the channel face- to-face or mediated in a newspaper or on the internet and the setting used for the communication also have considerable influence on its success.
The setting can either be more intimate, as in a communication between only two people, or more public, as in a small-group setting or in mass communication. These three factors determine what can be expressed, to what extent and in which way it can be expressed. Additionally, the provision of an "opportunity for dialogue, reflection, and social learning [ With regard to the setting, psychological studies have shown that "face-to-face communication tends to be more persuasive and impactful on personal behavior than mass-media ted communication" It can clearly be seen that there are various obstacles which climate change communicators have to overcome.
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As already mentioned before, various features of the environmental documentary make it the ideal genre for the depiction of environmental problems and for this reason also for addressing exactly these obstacles. In the following chapters two environmental documentaries dealing with the problem of anthropogenic climate change - Al Gore's Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth and Leonardo DiCaprio's 11th Hour - shall be analyzed with regard to the way in which they approach the topic and how they try to overcome the afore mentioned obstacles. This will be done by looking at the structure of the documentary, at the frame used for this topic and at the general attitude which is being expressed and imparted towards nature in general and to the problem of anthropogenic climate change in particular.
Furthermore, it will be looked at what kind of imagery or metaphors, and which soundtrack have been used, what kind of mood has been created by this and how it supports the framing of the message. It will be looked at how the audience is being addressed and how well the message is being brought across in the end.
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Additionally, it will also be tried to assess the scientific accuracy of the two documentaries as well as the ethical behavior of the speakers and the efficiency of the communication, i. Released in , it was received with standing ovations at the Sundance Festival as well as at the Film Festival in Cannes.
It was nominated for and won two Academy Awards for Best. These facts however are just numbers after all. They give an impression of how well the film was received and therefore also show in some way how many people in proportion could be reached. From this it can then be deduced in a theoretical way how successful it has been in terms of reaching its goal, i.
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Al Gore, in collaboration with Davis Guggenheim, the director of An Inconvenient Truth, has created an enthralling and touching call for change and he has done so by interweaving his own personal life story with sound scientific facts which are presented in an easily comprehensible way. In his documentary the problem of anthropogenic climate change is presented as a deeply moral issue in which all of us have the ethical obligation to accept the responsibility which comes with being technologically advanced and which basically comes with being at the top of the food chain. In the following, An Inconvenient Truth will be analyzed with regard to the problems connected with the successful communication of climate change which have been presented in Chapter 4.
Documentary film essay questions
Gore himself states in the documentary that "[he has] tried to identify all those things in people's minds that serve as obstacles to them understanding this i. An Inconvenient Truth, and subsequently also Al Gore, have been criticized for slight errors in the presentation of the scientific facts. Eric Steig for example states that while the documentary was "largely correct" in the "portrayal of the science of climate change" Steig 5 , some facts were oversimplified and certain weather phenomena were expressed to have been caused by climate change without there being enough scientific evidence to back up such a relation.
Examples of this are for one the glacier pictures presented in chapter 7 of the film. Steig criticizes that though the glaciers on. Therefore, where direct citation was used, only the page number is given. If information was taken from a different source it has been marked accordingly. M W Maike Westhues Author. Add to cart. Contents 1. Introduction 2.
Marketing has moved from targeting large groups, to targeting individuals and Stop Using Plagiarized Text. There are many different views about refugees in Australian society, where illegal boat people and over flowing detention centres are a cont The documentary Gallipoli by Tolga Ornak and the film of the same name by Peter Weir, are useful resources to stimulate middle school studen William Randolph Hearst, born April 29, , was raised by millionaire parents. After his father, George, received the San Francisco Examiner newspaper as payment for a debt, Hearst was determined to run it.
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