Presentation on theme: "Presentation 3: Language and Style. Technical/cultural codes What are the principal elements of documentary discourse? (Corner, 1996) Image modes: observation."— Presentation transcript:
Presentation 3: Language and Style
Technical/cultural codes What are the principal elements of documentary discourse? (Corner, 1996) Image modes: observation (minimal intervention with profilmic event); interaction (coding through mise-en- scène, composition, shot type, framing, editing …); illustration (supporting verbal discourse); association (juxtaposition of images) Speech modes: overheard exchange; testimony; voiceover; to-camera address. plus Sound modes: expressive/commentative/illustrative use of sound/music
Anchorage How do images and sound interact? Expressive: is the sound and/or mise-en-scene expressive of the action? e.g. reflecting the inner states of the characters Commentative: does the sound and/or mise-en- scene comment on the action? e.g. ironic comments/music, distanciation Illustrative: images may be used to illustrate the argument in the voiceover
Language features (1) Maps and graphics identify the fattest cities and states in the US. Statistics tell the audience that ‘two thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese and almost forty percent of teenagers have too much fat in their bodies’. Interviews with health officials, doctors and school administrators reveal alarming trends and also function as a dynamic counterpoint to the rapid deterioration in Spurlock’s physical condition. Jump cuts help speed up interviews and maintain the documentary’s fast pace. There is a funny and informative animated sequence about chicken nuggets.
Language features (2) Music complements the images (eg. ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ by Queen is played over images of fat Americans), or is used to counterpoint them (eg. the ‘Blue Danube Waltz’ is played over footage of surgeons performing a gastric bypass). ‘Super Size Me’, the song, was cowritten by Spurlock and mocks the jargon associated with fast food. Footage of Ronald McDonald rocking with children to the tune of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Pusherman’ reinforces the way McDonald’s marketing targets children. Frequent shots of big bottoms and large McDonald’s workers reinforce the message that obesity is at epidemic rates in the US.
Language features (3) Still photographs used in a ‘who do you know?’ competition for children illustrate the effectiveness of McDonald’s marketing: they are more familiar with Ronald McDonald than Jesus. Shots of vomiting and a close-up of a black hair found in McDonald’s yoghurt evoke strong responses from the audience and provide memorable images. Fly-on-the-wall footage of a school kitchen shows the vast amounts of processed foods used in schools. Internal body footage of a gastric by-pass operation emphasizes the obesity problem in America. Documents back up the film’s messages, eg. transcripts from a court case.
Language features (4) Repeated shots of the McDonald’s arches makes them seem ubiquitous. Unanswered phone calls to McDonald’s demonstrate the company’s refusal to acknowledge Spurlock’s concerns. Titles announce different chapters of the documentary. Low-angle close-ups with a handheld camera make the film feel personal and immediate (eg. in the car with Spurlock). Video diary of Spurlock describing how he feels gives a personal touch and works as a continuity device that links all the sequences together in the film. Quick, sharp editing of the many images, graphics and interviews gives the film its fast pace.
Language features - activities Which techniques used in the film are most effective in highlighting Spurlock's views? (Give reasons for your answers) How do camera angles, lighting, music, narration, and editing contribute to creating an atmosphere in the film? How do you think Spurlock wanted the audience to respond? (Explain why you think this)
Language Write a one-page language analysis of Supersize Me, focusing on the key areas of language: - Signs and codes used. What are their denotations/connotations? - Motivation (reasons) for using signs/codes - Polysemy and anchorage - Ideologies and myths explored in the film - Conventions on documentary used