Crushing Weight Documentary Analysis
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Transcript of Crushing Weight Documentary Analysis
Crushing Weight: Jacobs Story
A-Level Media Documentary Analysis by Connor Clark
Context- Crushing Weight is a Cincinnati Children's Documentary that looks into
the life of Jacob Miller, a severely overweight young boy.
- The documentary looks into how Jacob became the weight he is, by looking at his life as a child.
- It also looks at how his weight affects his health and what Jacob needs to do if he wishes to change his life.
How can Crushing Weight Influence me?
- Crushing Weight is a medical documentary therefore many of the key features within the documentary will most probably be a feature or convention that I will use
- First of all I can get a good understanding of the way in which interviews are filmed, the angles used, how the interviews are lit and the structure of the interviews
- I can also get a good understanding of the types of questions that need to be asked in order to get a good understanding of the life/lifestyle of the subject, however to also get to the point quickly and avoid the interviewee dragging out their answers and going off on a tangent
- I will get an idea of how often photos are incorporated into this type of documentary such as photos from the subjects childhood, as this will give the audience a good understanding of the journey the subject has been on
- As well as this I can get a good idea of the people I need to interview for my documentary e.g. doctors, family members; and I can get a good idea of how to present them to the audience
Introduction - The first 40 seconds of Crushing Weight are used as the title
sequence for the documentary
- It begins with Cincinnati Childrens logo fading onto the screen
- This then fades into footage of Jacob introducing himself to the audience in a direct mode of address, facing the camera and explaining his situation and establishing the theme of the documentary (this is an element of the performative mode as it stresses the emotional impact of his problem)
- After this a voiceover explains the impact his weight has on his health in more detail and more scientifically
- The sequence feature inter-cuts of photos go Jacob as a baby and as a teenager to graphically back up how his problem has progressed with age
- The anti-bullying sign indicates that Jacob suffers from bullying as a result of his weight, it connotes to the audience the stereotypical convention of the fat kid getting bullied at school
- The shot of the food in the school cafeteria has clear links with Jacobs weight as food is one of the contributing factors as to why he is so large
Symbolism and Iconography - Semiotics are use throughout the documentary to convey to the
audience how Jacobs weight impacts on his life
- A close up of a sports jersey also features in the documentary and this iconography has connotations of sports and good health, however sport is a hobby that Jacob cannot participate in or does not want to participate in due to his weight. This shot links in later on in the documentary as well, when Jacob is trying to lose weight he begins going swimming and to the gym, both of which are sports, it has connotations of determination as well as dedication, and Jacob will need both of these if he wishes to actually change his weight.
- As well as this the t-shirt says livin large on it. This juxtaposition of sport and being obese make the audience question whether Jacob actually has the mindset of wanting to lose weight or whether he thinks its a joke as there are times in the documentary where the audience believes that he will give up on trying to lose weight.
Narration and InterviewsThe beginning interview with Jacob is filmed in a direct mode of address allowing him to introduce himself and set the personal tone for the documentary. It allows the audience to initially see and hear, purely from the struggle it causes him to speak, how his weight affects him. These interview feature at regular intervals throughout the documentary to highlight how his journey progresses.
The Voice of God is used to convey the more serious information rather than emotional. A adult female voice is used providing softer tones however the voice has a doctoral tone to it as well and this emphasises the severity of Jacobs situation.
Interviews are used to split the scientific information into more sizeable chunks. The documentary has interviews with the mother, father, grandad and other family members as well as interviews with doctors, teachers and school friends. Each interviewee is used to shed a different light on Jacobs life and this really allows the audience to get a much wider and more personal understanding of the impact his weight has on his life. Intertitles are used to indicate who the interviewee is and the typefaces used are very formal and simplistic to relay the overall tone of the documentary.
Sound Sound is a pivotal element of the documentary and serves to enhance the effect of the footage and narration/interviews on screen.
Sound effects are mostly used in the medical scenes, such as a heart monitor or a ventilation mask putting Jacob to sleep. These synchronous, diegetic sounds convey ideas of danger, bad health and operations and are used to reinforce the tension created in the scenes where Jacob has a gastric bypass operation.
Ambient sounds are also used such as the ambient sound of a hospital waiting room, a school hall and a swimming pool. The ambient soundscapes are used to establish a location and connote ideas and memories as well as setting the tone for these locations to the audience. For example the sound of shoes screeching on a floor, lockers slamming, children talking and bells ringing all bring connotations of a school hall, which in turn brings back memories to the audience of when they were at school, therefore setting the location.
The way in which these sounds are used reflects the performative mode of the documentary as the documentary aims to target emotions in the audience and make the feel empathetic towards Jacob as well as raising awareness of how obesity can effect you.
- The music in the documentary begins as soft piano music, setting the emotional sad tone of the documentary
- When Jacob goes in for his operation, the music changes to uplifting guitar music. This connotes the excitement to the audience that Jacobs situation could change for the better, and his health may improve
- Just before Jacobs surgery begins the music changes to a string based track, heightening the worry and tension for his operation as many things could go wrong. The audiences anticipation and almost fear for the results builds up as the music crescendos
- The music the comes to a sudden halt at the moment before the operation begins bringing the tension to a climax
- As the operation begins much faster and deeper strings play and this conveys the seriousness of the operation
- Once the operation is complete and the audience discovers that Jacob is ok the music changes to another uplifting piano track as he begins his road to recovery and weight loss
What is the purpose of Crushing Weight?
- At first I believed the documentary to be an expository documentary due to the continuity editing, use of archive footage and images used to illustrate or counteract a point, however after watching the documentary again I found the mode to be a blur of expository and performative
- The emotion conveyed and aimed to make the audience feel empathetic towards Jacob indicate clear feature of the performative mode however the documentary retains the expository feature of making a clear point: Obesity is a huge problem that should not be left alone
- The objective of the documentary is successful and clear however I do feel at times that the agenda weights slightly more in favour of feeling sorry for Jacob rather than emphasising how bad his situation is and how unhealthy it is to be obese
- As a result I believe the documentary to be mainly performative with a blur of expository as well