Final Video Essay

Environmental Depictions In Film

Issues about the environment are commonly used in films, and some do a much better job representing the issues than others. This video essay takes a look at several different films and the way they represent the reality of the situation. The video starts out with the most unrealistic representations and moves to the most realistic representations. It is important to represent the problems in a realistic way in order to bring change.


Progress April 23

After presenting my information and progress to the class I realized that I have a lot of time in my clips that are boring. I replaced my interstellar clips with ones that involve the environment more, rather than involving space (good suggestion from peers). My video is now shorter and only includes clips that are going to support my argument, without awkward moments that seem dull. I have decided to re write my script and make it analytical rather than summarizing the movie plots. I have to continue to edit my script and video simultaneously to make sure what I am talking about is being represented on screen.

April 16 Progress

Today I figured out that instead of borrowing a laptop I am going to use the program Windows Live Movie Maker that I already have on my computer so I can work on it at home.  I started editing my clips to make them shorter and only contain the things that I would like. I keep on editing my script as I edit my video so I know for sure that I am going to be speaking about what I want on the screen at the right time. I emailed Paul about the snowball mic rental and I am just waiting on a response so that I can record my voice over.

My Progress

Today I finished my script and made it less about the plots of the movies and more about why I chose them and if they are realistic, unrealistic, possible or not possible. I downloaded all of my movie clips from YouTube. I put all of the clips on a google doc that way I can access it from a mac when I

Video Essay Script Rough Draft

Video Essay Script Rough Draft

Environmental issues are depicted in film in ways that can be thought of as either realistic, unrealistic, or possible, and not possible. Probably the most popular movie about climate change would have to be The Day After Tomorrow. Although the issue of climate change is very real, the movie over exaggerates what our planet is going through. The movie uses fictional catastrophic climate events and extreme weather scenarios that ultimately cause an ice age.

Interstellar is based on planet Earth in the future, where humans are out of food and other resources. The depletion of Earth and its resources is a very real issue that needs a solution. In the movie, the solution is to find another planet that can sustain life. A team of astronauts travel throughout time and space by using the gravitational force from a black hole to locate a new planet for humans to live on. In real life this solution could be possible, but it is highly unlikely because we do not possess the technology that they use in the movie.

The topic of the depletion of Earth’s natural resources is again present in the movie Avatar. Rather than traveling to a new planet to live there, the military travels to a new planet, Pandora, with the mission to steal it’s most valuable resource known as ubotanium. The expansion of mining the ubotanium threatens the planet’s native tribe Na’vi. Although it is set on a fictional planet, the issue how far we are willing to go for resources is comparable to our own reality. Just like in the movie we are willing to go to war with the native people of an area to access resources such as oil.

The animated film, The Lorax, teaches children about the issue of destroying the environment in order to make money.  The Once-ler discovers a land full of Brown Bar-ba-loots, Humming-Fish and luscious, beautiful Truffula Trees. He quickly discovers that by cutting down the Truffla Trees he can make a “Thneed” and sell them for profit. Although the Lorax warns him of the dangers of cutting down trees, he ignores him and builds a factory to increase “Thneed” production. Soon the Bar-ba-loots and then the fish are driven off, because they can’t survive in a habitat with so few trees, and the land is left desolate. Even though the children story is made up, it has a very realistic undertone. We are currently doing the same thing to our forests, and just like in The Lorax, we are making it harder and harder for plants and animals to survive.

The film Erin Brockovich is a dramatization of the true story of the real life Erin Brockovich who fought against the energy corportation Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The groundwater in Hinkley, California is seriously contaminated with carcinogenic hexavalent chromium, but PG&E has been telling Hinkley residents that they use a safer form of chromium. The issue of pollution and more specifically groundwater contamination is represented in a very realistic manor, and the film shows just how tough it is to battle a powerful corporation.

Hands down the most realistic portrayal of how real the problem of climate change is would have to come from a documentary like Chasing Ice. Chasing Ice shows you exactly what is happening to the artic glaciers, and records the biggest calving event in history. The documentary really puts things into perspective by showing you a glacier melting that is bigger than the city of Manhattan.

Different films portray the environment in different ways, usually to suite their audience. It is very important that issues regarding our environment continue to be brought out in film. As humans we need to stop destroying the planet we live on, and find solutions to fix the problems we have created.

April 2, 2015 update

Today I created a timeline to decide what order I would use each film in. I want the timeline to progress from the most unrealistic/ impossible depictions of the environment to the most realistic/ possible depictions of the environment. I then began to watch my clips and think about what exactly I want to say for each movie. I have created a rough draft copy of my script that I plan on finishing next week.

Video Essay Topic

For my final video essay project the style I would like to use is voice over. I feel like the voice over style of video essay really makes it easy for the viewer to watch and listen at the same time, making it easy to understand. When thinking of a topic to choose I wanted to make sure I chose something that I am actually interested in. I am interested in the environment so I would like my video essay to focus on the problems we are facing with out environment, and how these problems are depicted in film. I feel that the issues of pollution, environmental degradation, the depletion of resources, and climate change are very real issues of our generation, but are still controversial and are not getting enough attention. The argument I am going make is the difference between movies that depict environmental problems in a real way versus movies that dramatize it and make it unrealistic. Along with the differences of real and fake depictions I could include the way different children movies depict the issue to fit their audience (Avatar,The Lorax, WALL-E)

movies I could use:

  • Avatar
  • The Lorax
  • WALL-E
  • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Erin Brockovick
  • Interstellar

Film Supercut

What makes the Epic Movie Explosions supercut so strong is the fact that it is quick, to the point, and engaging to the viewer. The supercut is not really making an argument, rather it is simply pointing out that most action movies have scenes where things are blowing up. The focus of the supercut is very narrow and only takes into account explosion scenes, and nothing more. The supercut does a great job in connecting the different movies by showing how similar most explosions scenes are. By using movies that span over long periods of time such as Star Wars and The Dark Knight it exemplifies the trend of action movies still relying on explosion scenes to entertain the audience.

Tony Zhou Video Essay Analysis

Robin Williams

            Tony Zhou begins the video essay “Robin Williams- In Motion” by introducing himself using the method of voice over while showing clips and pictures of Robin Williams work. Zhou explains that although there have been many tribute pieces to Robin Williams in the past couple months, this one will focus on something different, making it a unique video essay. Zhou honors William’s work by analyzing the artistic way that he moved throughout scenes. Zhou explains the term of “walking” in a cinematic sense and explains that it is the choreography between the actor and the camera. He tells the audience that how an actor moves tells us something about the characters, the scene, and the story. In essence, good cinematic “walking” provides good story telling. Robin Williams does this so well that in some scenes, even if you do not have any sound or can’t speak English, you will still know what is being portrayed in the scene.

Zhou’s video essay uses a number of different types of editing. When a scene is too long for the short amount of dialog he is narrating, he fast forwards the visuals to match up with his voice. As soon as Zhou gives an example of how Robin Williams is moving, the scene he is describing is timed perfectly. Describing to the audience how William’s “walking” has changed throughout two scenes in of the same movie he puts both clips side by side so the audience can visualize it clearly. Tony Zhou’s soothing voice is accompanied by a song playing in the background at a low volume. Zhou’s voice is very calm and he makes sure that it is never over bearing. Zhou does a great job in making sure it is easy for the audience to listen and watch at the same time, by implementing the use of pauses in his dialog.

Zhou does not rely on graphics in this video essay to get his point across, but rather the use of many different clips. Zhou does a good job of representing the long and successful career of Robin Williams by simply not focusing on one or two films. Tony Zhou uses a clip of Robin William’s being interviewed as well and cuts back to it throughout the video essay to further support his arguments. An example of this is when in the end of the video essay Zhou is explaining that some of Robin Williams’s best moments were improvised, as soon as he says that it cuts back to the interview of Williams who explains that “when the stuff really hits you, it’s usually something that happened, and it happened then”. The use of examples from all the different movies in William’s illustrious is what makes this video essay easy to watch and very entertaining for the viewer. The use of all the different films also gives viewers a sense of how long his career lasted, and exactly how many diverse roles Robin Williams has pulled off exceptionally. Robin Williams was an American icon and this unique way to pay tribute to his career was exceptionally done by Tony Zhou.