Final Paper- Chicago 10 and Restrepo

Brandon Mediate

The Deadliest Place on Earth

 Watching violent footage of real life events can be an eye opening experience. Chicago 10 shows footage of peaceful protestors being tear-gassed and attacked by policemen. Restrepo shows footage of U.S. troops firing against Taliban members in Afghanistan. Throughout this paper, I will compare and contrast the two films Chicago 10, directed by Brett Morgan, and Restrepo, directed by Sebastian Junger. Both films are categorized as documentaries and both focus in on a societal issue. Since they are documentaries, their directors made their films so that people would become less ignorant from watching them. Morgan wrote in a statement, “I wanted to make a film that would remind people about the importance of exercising one’s constitutional rights (Morgan).”  Both Chicago 10 and Restrepo can teach their viewers valuable lessons. In my opinion however, Junger’s style of documenting Restrepo was more effective than Morgans was in Chicago 10. 

 One way Chicago 10 and Restrepo are similar is that they let the audience know what the characters in the film are thinking. In Chicago 10, there are many times when the audience can hear what the protestors are thinking in the court rooms. In Restrepo, U.S. troops are filmed one at a time where they each talk about their experiences fighting in the war. Filming a single person talking to the camera a traditional technique of documentation. Listening to people who are directly involved in the documentary can be a powerful tool in captivating an audience. This technique also allows the audience to understand how the troops are feeling about the events taking place. 

 One way Chicago 10 and Restrepo are different is by their use of rhetorical strategy. Chicago 10 has a voice of authority approach because Brett Morgan used recordings and personal experience to shape his documentary. Restrepo would be grouped as a direct cinema because it films life as it happens. The use of animation makes Chicago 10 a voice of authority rather than direct cinema because the director is recreating scenes rather than showing them live. This makes Chicago 10 more abstract and further from what actually happened. 

Restrepo was also different than Chicago 10 because Junger was able to film from the perspective of different U.S. troops. The ability to film from the helmets of troops gives the audience a real, 1st person perspective of the war in Afghanistan. Chicago 10 was only filmed in 3rd person perspective or from an observation perspective. This separation in film style can also reflect how documentaries have progressed. While it was much harder to make a movie in 2007 that captured an event in 1968, Restrepo shows how film today can capture many scenes that were not possible in 68’. In an interview Junger said,“Men were killed and wounded during filming, so there was a constant issue of when it was OK to turn on the cameras and when it was not. Only the filmmakers’ close relationships with the men of the platoon allowed them to keep shooting in situations where other journalists might have been told to stop (Hetherington).” The quality film in Restrepo could also classify the movie as a futuristic film because it shows how accessibility to small cameras can lead to multiple perspectives. 

 The interesting thing about Restrepo is that the director, Sebastian Junger, is also a writer for the New York Times and wrote a book called “War” on the events that took place in the film. Junger wrote about the frequent 100 degree whether and the fear of soldiers he encountered when making the documentary (Junger). I read this book last year for my international relations class which made seeing the film a different experience. Many of the scenes were not what I had pictured in my mind. I was amazed by the terrain in the film and the physical shape that the troops had to be in in order to do their job (See Fig 1). My knowledge of the book made the movie more powerful because I was not able to imagine the scenes how they actually occurred. The movie was Junger’s way of showing his audience what experiences troops go through.

 Restrepo is like traditional documentaries because there is not a definite introduction of characters or exposition. Sabastian Junger and his co-filmer were dropped in the valley at the very start of the film and continued telling the audience more about why they are there. Morgan decided to give a lot of information about the characters, what they were like and who they were. This made me characterize people in the film more where as in Restrepo the characters were just real people.

 Another difference between the two films are the political and cultural imports presented. Chicago 10 involves politics in areas of its film where as Restrepo does not. Even though there is no mention of President Nixon or JFK in Chicago 10, there were many more political elements than were in Restrepo. This, in my opinion, made Chicago 10 tougher to understand and more biased. The use of animation to recreate scenes and the judge as an antagonist made the court room scenes seem overdramatic and less historical. Restrepo involves little to no politics and focuses more on reporting and journalism. Junger had experience with combat and in an interview for National Geographic he said, “They knew Tim and I had been in plenty of wars before this, so they didn’t really offer any advice (Hetherington).” His past experience and knowledge of war is what made Restrepo that much more effective and intense for the audience. It also made the footage less biased and more factual. 

 Genres tell a lot about a film and categorize certain films as similar. Chicago 10 and Restrepo are similar in their attempt to capture real life events. There are different ways of capturing reality. Chicago 10 is more abstract and draws from outside elements to recreate events. Restrepo uses outside elements in addition to real life experiences. Our textbook references Restrepo on Page 288 and says it is, “at the most fundamental level, concerned with presenting actual people, events, and social realities of one sort or another to viewers.” I could not agree with this statement more. Restrepo is an excellent example of a documentary that remains unbiased and reports historical events as they occur. Chicago 10, in my opinion, is an example of a documentary that acts more as a story. The film elements present in Chicago 10 were weaker and more limited than that of Restrepo. I enjoyed the style and techniques of Junger over those of Morgan because it seemed more real to me. As Capt. Dan Kearney says in the film, the Korengal valley is the deadliest place on earth (Carr). This is exactly how Junger portrayed it and I was able to see why it is the deadliest place on earth.  

 

 

 

 

Figure 1

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Carr, David. “Valley of Death: One Platoon’s Tour of Duty.” New York Times. N.p., 16 June 2010. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

 

Junger, Sebastian. War: Sebastian Junger. New York: Twelve, 2010. Print.

 

Morgan, Brett. “Filmmaker Statement.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

 

Hetherington, Tim. “The Making of Restrepo.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

 

Moore, John. “Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley.” Boston.com. Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC, 12 Nov. 2008. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

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Chicago 10

Chicago 10 shows many dramatic scenes from both live footage and animated characters. The scene variation and conflicts made the movie interesting to watch. The Yippies were faced with the challenge of how to respond to the violent actions made by U.S. police and military. At first they believe in non violent actions and protests. Through the live footage we can see how the Yippies protested and the actual violence occurring during that time period. The cartoons recreate the court scenes which shows what the eight men went through when put on trial. 

This film reflects the counter culture and the struggle the eight Yippies went through. It is a documentary which is aimed at showing what actually happened. The cartoons help fill in the parts that the live footage doesn’t cover. This combination makes the documentary more accurate and easy to understand. Many of the court scenes are very dramatic which made me question if thats how it actually happened. Both the live footage and animated scenes make the movie well rounded and detailed. 

Many of the scenes throughout the film could have been further from the truth if they were recreated using people. The use of animation to capture the parts of the story that weren’t live footage was different from traditional documentaries and show key scenes in the movie. For example when the Yippies come up with their name or the speeches given by the Yippies to the judge. The decision to use animation made the documentary more realistic, in my opinion, and a cool way of showing what happened. 

 

The court scene

Three Experimental Films-Karen Carpenter Story

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story shows how the main character feels about her physical body. Her desire to become thin and skinny is what leads to her death by Anorexia. The film is meant to portray the societal conflict between Karen and her idea of what it means to be pretty. The media portrays women as skinny, and therefore Karen would take diet pills and throw up the food she eats in order to get her idea of pretty.

The films represent Avant Grande film in many ways. For one thing the film starts out using barbie dolls to represent real people. This gives the audience a different perspective of the characters and foreshadows some of the themes in the movie. Society plays a huge role in this film and the barbie dolls can show how society views young people and how Karen views herself. Avant Grande from our textbooks means rarely presenting straight forwards stories or characters. This was the case in the Karen Carpenter story as the audience doesn’t fully understand the movie until the end. 

Feminism plays a huge role in the Karen Carpenter Story. Haynes wanted to show how society views pretty girls at a young age. The barbie dolls show how media shows happy, thin women and how women and guys are normally act. Heynes is criticizing this view and showing the negative effects that come from seeing society this way. Perspective plays another major role in this movie as there are many different perspectives shown throughout the film. Overall the movie challenges many social norms and makes me think about how others and myself view these social norms. 

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty shows the struggle and problems when trying to capture Osama Bin Laden. Much of the movie is intended to be what actually happened and the internal and external conflicts that everyone faced when finding Bin Laden. Maya’s co worker and friend dies and makes the struggle to find Bin Laden more personal. The movie was from Maya’s perspective and therefore incorporated her internal conflicts into the overall conflict which was finding Bin Laden. This could also be seen as a reflection of how Americans felt after the 9/11 attacks. Many people took the search for Bin Laden to be personal and it played a key element in finding him. 

Some themes of Zero Dark Thirty would be violence and perseverance. At the beginning of the movie there are scenes when Maya and Dan use violence to get information. There is also a presence of violence when people try and shoot Maya. Perseverance is present as Maya tries to take down the man they believe to be connected to Bin Laden. This Perseverance could also be a reflection of how Americans felt at the time. Maya would do anything to find Bin Laden and this pursuit is what makes Zero Dark Thirty an intense movie. 

I watched Zero Dark Thirty a second time for this class and after seeing it I noticed many things I had not before. For one thing, the torture scenes made me think much more about how the director wants the audience to see the various conflicts involving the use of torture to get information. There were times in the movie when torturing worked and times when it didn’t. The movie also made the pursuit for finding Bin Laden seem personal. I also didn’t notice foreground and background angles in the last killing scene of the movie. The camera is constantly changing angles and shows the final moments before killing Bin Laden. 

Weekend

Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend had many aspects that were “anti-hollywood” and unusual. It is set in France and reflects many of the social conflicts going on when Weekend was filmed in 1967. Corinne is trying to get inheritance from her mother and both her and Roland are cheating on each other and plot to kill each other. The plot of the movie is also hard to follow which is another unusual aspect of Weekend. This movie is a reflection of the French New Wave which Godard played a key role in.

There are many conflicts incorporated into Weekend which make it an unpredictable and interesting movie. Roland and Corinne trying to steal and get out of the middle class is one reoccurring conflict throughout the movie. Roland and Corinne are desperate for money and objects and are willing to kill both Corinne’s father and mother to get more money. This conflict continues through the movie and shows the flaws in all the social classes in France. 

The sound effects and bad acting are, in part, what make Weekend part of the French New Wave. It was difficult to follow at times but interesting to see how Godard highlighted other elements of the movie. The unusual sound effects made the audience notice other things more like acting and thematic elements. The movie was different from what I normally watch but was interesting because of the untraditional storyline and the multiple conflicts. 

Inception In class Assignment

There were many film elements in the movie that I noticed watching a second time. What stuck out the most was the use of editing and mise en scene. Editing was used so well and casually that it was hard for me to notice the small details, for instance when the fruits and vegetables fly off of the carts in the market or the action scenes at the end when they are skiing on the mountain. These scenes stuck out to me more this time and I was able to see how the director made the scenes more real using editing. Mise en scene was especially noticeable when Cobb shows Ariadne his wife and children. These scenes used mise en scene to portray happy memories that reflect a sad and depressing moment for Cobb. 

Far From Heaven- Film and Ideology

White Supremacy is one major theme in Far From Heaven. White supremacy in Far From Heaven is a reflection of the racism in our country during the 1950’s. In one of the first scenes of the movie, the Whitaker family has a black maid which is an example of how the film portrayed racism during that time. Also when Cathy is talking to Raymond at the art exhibit, there are many pictures of negative facial expressions from white people in the room. This atmosphere and reoccurring theme reveals the time period when the movie takes place as well as the broader conflicts among the characters and society. Cathy had a different perspective on African Americans and how they should be treated. This is evident in her relationship with Raymond, how she treats Cybil and in the article that was posted about Cathy which says that she is “kind to negroes.” All of these elements add to one of the themes in this movie which is white supremacy.

There are many ideologies present in Far From Heaven which play a big part in the movie. Racism, gender equality and sexuality are the more powerful and noticeable ideologies. Racism is seen through the characters Raymond, his daughter and Cybil. They are seen as different and below white people in many scenes throughout the movie. Gender equality is more subtle but present in the functions of families in the movie. Cathy is portrayed as the typical 50’s housewife who stays home and takes care of her kids while Frank is seen as the provider of income. Sexuality is especially noticeable when Frank is caught having an affair with another man and Cathy asks him if he has seen a doctor, implying that there is a cure to his sexual appeal. These ideologies reflect how society viewed certain people during this time. 

Far From Heaven does an excellent job of bringing ideologies together to integrate multiple conflicts into one scene. Frank’s sexuality is especially tested in the scene right after Cathy finds out about his affair. When Cathy says, “You’re all man to me” she is trying to remind Frank of his masculinity. Frank responds by hitting her which can be seen as an example of how society viewed masculinity during that time. Frank felt he had less power over his family because of his affair which also integrates the ideology of gender role. All of the ideologies present in this movie help the audience imagine what it was like living during this time period. Cathy’s role as the main character also shows the audience what it would be like living as a housewife. Cathy’s is unable to be with Raymond or stay with her husband which shows the lack of control that housewives had in the 50’s. 

 

 

 

 

Casablanca- Genre

Two themes present in Casablanca are love and betrayal.  Rick and Isla share a love that is revealed to the audience from a glimpse into the past when the two met in Paris. Their love for one another ended because Isla, in a way, betrayed Rick by leaving him at the train station without telling him why she had to stay behind. Love is also present between Isla and Lazlo which the audience learns is the reason that Isla stayed in Paris years before they met Rick in Casablanca. Betrayal is present when Rick goes against Captain Renault by giving Isla and Lazlo the papers to get them to the United States. Not only does Rick betray Captain Renault, but Rick also betrays Isla by not going with her on the plane. These combinations of love and betrayal are what make Casablanca an interesting and in some cases, heartbreaking movie. 

There are many different genres present in Casablanca. Romance was one of the most noticeable genres for me because the love that Rick and Isla share changed the entire plot and kept me wondering how the movie would end. Casablanca could also be seen as a political movie because of Major Strasser’s influence in the plot. The French control of Casablanca and the divides that were present in France at the time also adds to the conflicts in the movie. Major Strasser was after Lazlo because he was suspected to be a Jewish activist. This plot element adds to the political genre of the movie. Casablanca could also be seen as an action film because of the gun violence and soldiers presented in the movie. At the end of the movie, Rick shoots Major Strasser which adds to the action elements throughout the movie. The many genres present in Casablanca are what attract a variety of audiences and creates a suspenseful ending. 

Different from the conventional/ traditional films, Casablanca uses many different genres making it a much more artistic film. There are many scenes that take the storyline in a different direction than would a traditional film. One example would be when Isla pulls a gun on Rick. This scene is very different from traditional scenes because Isla is now turning on Rick and demanding the papers rather than falling in love with him like many traditional romance movies would have. Another example would be the last scene of the movie when Isla and Lazlo take off in the plane. This ending is very artistic and different from how a traditional movie would be. Not only does Lazlo fly off with Isla but Rick is not punished for his betrayal. These artistic elements are what make Casablanca the renowned movie it is. The combination of genres and unpredictable storyline attracts many audiences and reveals multiple perspectives on World War II and Americans soon to be involvement. 

 

Apocalypse Now- Sound Design

One theme in Apocalypse Now is the division of logical and strategic war versus savage war. We see many examples in the movie where the Vietnam War is portrayed as savage rather than logical. In the beginning of the movie when the commander for the U.S. tells his troops to surf because the waves look great is an example of a savage war. Also when images of napalm attacks and innocent Vietnamese people being shot are to remind that audience of the savage environment and tactics of the U.S. army in the Vietnam war. The savage war is also reflected through the main character, Captain Willard. Captain Willard’s brief story of going home to the U.S. and finding a war in our country is a reference to the dark side of the counterculture and the divides that were occurring. The ending of Apocalypse Now when the Captain kills Colonel Kurtz is also an example of a savage war. Captain Willard completed his mission which was given to him in secrecy. The last killing scene of the movie is a great example of how the Vietnam War was portrayed as a savage war. 

Sound design was a key element of Apocalypse Now and created a powerful and evoking atmosphere for the audience. The constant sounds of helicopters gave the illusion that the audience was in the same rooms and helicopters as the actors. During the battle scenes, particularly the scene where Captain Willard and the men traveling with him killed the innocent Vietnamese fishermen. There is shouting, silence and sudden gunshots which shows the inner conflicts of the characters as well as the broader conflict involving the Vietnam war as a whole. There are also many points during the movie where there is no sound from the objects movie and people talking and all the audience can here is the music. This is evident at the beginning of the movie when Captain Willard is drinking by himself in a hotel room. Another example would be at the very end of the movie when Captain Willard kills the Colonel and the camera also shoots to images of villagers slaying a bull. 

Apocalypse Now was an excellent movie that depicted many different conflicts occurring in our country during that time period. The inner conflict with Captain Willard was most drawing to my attention, however there were many other characters and scenes which portrayed a wide variety of struggles. The constant scenes of innocent lives being lost, helicopters flying over ancient villages and fire burning through forests was captivating for me and the audience altogether. The battle scenes, images of people dying and internal thoughts from Captain Willard were all powerful images and scenes for me which drew me into the movie and kept me wondering what was going to happen next. 

 

Psycho- Editing

One theme of Psycho would be stereotypes involving sex appeal and sexism. Many times throughout the film Hitchcock portrays Marion as someone who is desirable as well as immoral. One example of this would be at the beginning of the movie when Marion has her sexual relationship with Sam. Another example of this would be when Norman looks through the hole in the wall at Marion. Another example of sexism in this movie is Marion’s job as the secretary. Women in this time period were not given equal rights and many times throughout the movie Marion is seen as an immoral woman not only for stealing but also for her sexual orientation with Sam. 

Editing is very powerful in the movie Psycho. It plays a large role in telling what the characters are thinking and foreshadowing turning points in the movie. For example, when Marion has the money and she is packing to leave the camera keeps going back and worth between her and the money. This scene is emphasizing Marion’s inner conflict with stealing the money. Another example would be when Marion sees Norman’s stuffed birds. The camera is cutting to different images of the birds and back to the faces of Norman and Marion. This is to highlight that Norman is comfortable with stuffing dead animals and foreshadowing Marion’s murder. Both scenes use the aspect of editing to show different perspectives as well as highlight key elements of the movie. 

The movie Psycho was a great movie especially for Hitchcock’s ability to make the movie unpredictable, suspenseful and horrifying. His artistic ability is especially noticeable in the shower scene and the killing of Marion. Hitchcock is able to kill the main character and keep the movie going making the audience more interested in what will happen next. Hitchcock is also able to use editing to show different perspective of characters. He focuses in on certain character’s faces, such as Marion’s when she is leaving town with the money, the police officer’s when he pulls Marion over and Norman’s when he first meets Marion and shows her his office. This editing and untraditional storyline is what made Hitchcock praised for his artistic directing.