Thursday, February 24, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Hell House is a documentary filmed by George Ratliff, telling about a Christian churches’ haunted house that teaches about making the right decisions and either going to heaven or hell. Im surprised about the use of only natural light. No artificial light was used in the film. If the scene being shot was outside in the dark, the scene was dark and no camera light was used to brighten faces. This helped bring more realism to the film. It made the film feel like a home movie being shot from the inside; it gave a backstage experience. Also the different scenes he added helped really bring out the true meaning behind the documentary. For example, the scene of the man trying to get the people into the room to pray helps the viewers to understand the main point behind the Hell House.
Also the filmmaker’s choice to show each the scene of the Hell House helped the viewer to understand what the people going through the house actually saw. The taped scenes of the Hell House were filmed in a way of close shots, eye level and different angles to capture all of the commotion in each scene. This put the audience in the Hell House with the rest of the tour group.
The filmmaker’s decision to add the scene of the teenager arguing with the man about faith and what was portrayed in the Hell House helps illustrate that not everyone that sees the house agrees with what is being shown. It helps depict another view that may help the viewing audience, that doesn’t agree with the Hell House, better understand why that church is putting on the house.
Ratliff’s decision to add different scenes even the more explicit ones helps illustrate the truth behind the church’s decision for the house; as well as demonstrating the firm belief of all the church people who make Hell House, that they are doing the right thing and helping to spread their belief in God.
Hell House is a documentary about the fear mongering tactics used by one church to “save” their community. A group of believers, led by their pastor, sets up an annual haunted house around Halloween that highlights contemporary moral and religious problems to convince local teenagers of their dangers. Though the message the church is sending is indeed troubling, the most disturbing part of the film is the way the documentarian makes the viewers feel as if they are actually a part of the process. This is done first in the beginning, in which the film is introduced by the pastor instead of the director. This makes it seem as if the following scenes and story are the idea of the church instead of the documentarian. Viewers feel as if they are in the church with these characters, planning and building a haunted house, instead of watching a film that is meant to inform them. The lack of presence of the documentarian leaves viewers to come to their own conclusions, without feeling the bias of an outside source. The following connection formed with the people of “Hell House” is strange and unappealing. This is also what makes the film effective, because its apparent lack of bias makes viewers feel as if they are deciding on their own that this is a disturbing message.
Hell house was documented in a very interesting way that I have not experienced before in a documentary. The most intriguing aspect of the way the film was documented is how George Ratliff made it seem as if he were not there and that these people in the video were just living their lives like they would any other day. There were many scenes he filmed that were personal that most documentarians would not bother to do. One of the many times that Ratliff filmed personal footage was in the homes of the church people. This surprised me a lot because talking about religion and homosexuality is personal enough but to go into someone’s home and film their children being put in bed and eating is somewhat extreme. Also with the close ups and camera views being detailed it was very weird to see these people being filmed very close but not being spoken to by the documentarian.There were many more scenes that seemed a little too personal to be filming such as at work, school, and at church. Without talking or letting his presents be known, Ratliff seemed to me as more of a creep rather than a documentarian filming.
The only time the viewer is shown a point of view opposite of that of the church is when a group of teenagers goes through and states how they were offended by the scene where the man with AIDS dies. They are automatically pulled into an argument with a very religious man, and the police officer who works with the church comes out to intervene, and tries to convince the teens that with God, the things that they witnessed will not happen. It was shocking to see how blind the Trinity Church members seem to be to other points of view.
I was impressed by George Ratliff’s ability to film the entire documentary without interjecting his own views or opinions on the audience. From beginning to end, you see what one would see as if they were actually present with the church involved with Hell House. At the end of the film, you have only your opinions about the Hell House, not the documentarians. In each scene, you have the voice of a member from the church, be it the pastor, one of the youth, or just another person. It seemed to me that Ratliff took special care to show the people in their most natural light. He did this by using scenes that made the people look ‘good’. These were scenes such as the interviews, where they spoke about experiences that were very touching and special to them. These were good to help build a personal connection between the people on screen and the viewer. However, Ratliff also includes scenes that make the people look bad. This can be observed in the scene after some kids visit the hell house and express their disagreement in view with those depicted in the attraction. This is a good scene to show that they are not all good, but lets the viewer remember that they aren’t all bad either. It leaves a lot of room for the viewers to formulate their own opinions. Throughout all this, there is no voice over from Ratliff. I think this not only helps keep the film objective, but also brings the reader closer to all of the people being showcased. As a viewer, you feel that you are present in the room when the person on screen is talking. The technique of filming meetings and the processes involved with running the Hell House, as well as the interviews with members of the church, really help to put the viewer on the scene, so you can connect with what’s being shown.
The flow in the way the documentary is presented from the meetings in the beginning to showing the final product at the end intermixed with interviews from attendees who approved and some who didn't helps the viewer to understand the amout of work the church puts into this to get the point out to the people. The subject matter aside it is an effective documentary, they are not forcing anything upon anyone. It may be a wolf in sheeps clothing and misrepresented to an attendee who was not expecting a lesson in religion while attending a haunted house. The documentary is extreme to the point of upsetting to some people but they definitely show the viewers the message they are trying to portray. DeWayne Peterson
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Hell House, a documentary by George Ratliff, is a film about a haunted house put on every year by the Trinity Church. It’s goal is to scare sinners into believing in God for fear of going to Hell. Ratliff uses several techniques which change the dynamic of the documentary. One of the first techniques I noticed was the use of lighting in the first seen as one of the leaders of the church explains how it is the church’s responsibility to scare non-Christians of hell by using the haunted house. As the leader, a Christian, speaks, the background is bright white, and almost looks angelic. Also, at the end of part one, several yound adults talk about what they believe hell to be like. You can immediately tell these were Christians explaining what they thought because of the background and lighting. They are personified in this way as “Godly.” Lighting is also used in this documentary
Another technique in the documentary is the clips of all the people in the community coming together to be a part of Hell House. The people seem very eager and excited about the haunted house, and you can see just how many people attend Hell House. This technique makes the viewer realize the importance of the community. If a new church were to attempt to make a haunted house such as Hell House, I believe their community would be angered or the people of the church even offended. However, perhaps the reason Hell House still exists is the huge community involved with the actually project of the Haunted House. It may make the church feel like they are a part of helping convert non-believers, instead of focusing on the reality of the extremes they are going to get their message across at the risk of offending others.
In the documentary Hell House, documentarian employs sequence skillfully makes the whole film organized, making the viewers further understand how the hell house develops and why following God is important for our lives. When I watch the whole film, I feel like I am a member of the group who created hell house. From the beginning part, the filmmaker presents a discussion in church about which behaviors count as sin typically and what would be shown in hell house. Meanwhile, the filmmaker forces the viewers to consider the same question, what is sin in your opinion? Then the filmmaker interviews some people about this question to establish suspense that what would be presented in the hell house. In the middle of the documentary, the filmmaker mainly focuses on the auditions of different cases and how the actors prepared for the show. Moreover, the filmmaker interviews Christians about what God tells us to do and which behavior is sin and we should not do. In that sense, the filmmaker force audience to rethink sin and Christianility, along with what we have done count as sin in our daily lives. In the end of the film, the filmmaker presents the shows in hell house from an audience’s view as well as the reactions from the audience when they watch the show. By this method, the viewers could deeply understand sin and Christianility. Besides, by presenting vividly scenes of the show in hell house, the end of documentary establishes credibility that we would not be punished if we follow God and our life would take a significant turn. Consequently, sequence plays an important role in the whole film. Filmmaker makes the viewers involved in the development of hell house and let them consider the meaning of sin, what happens around us are sin as well as that we would be protected by the favor of God.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Michael Moore uses irony many times throughout his film, Roger and Me. One example is the music he uses throughout the film. He plays the song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, by the Beach Boys, while he showed video of crumbling houses and destroyed neighborhoods. It’s ironic because a happy song is being played against a sad and destroyed background. Moore’s title Roger and Me is also ironic because Moore only meets Roger Smith very briefly and Smith doesn’t even answer Moore’s questions.
Another ironic aspect would be Moore’s interviews with the workers affected by the closings and the rich who live in Flint or just visiting. All the workers speak of their bleak futures trying to make it through every day. The rich, however, speak only of the good aspects of Flint only they can afford. In addition, the rich people who are paid to visit Flint only see the good things. They ignore the bad occurrences and speak of changing things that never occur.
Moore also uses irony when the Miss America star is talking. He is asking her questions about Flint and the closing of the plants. She however, only talks about herself and how she wants Flint to wish her luck in the completion, instead of her caring about the city.
At the end of the movie he uses irony when speaking with the woman who sells and kills rabbits for food and income. She tells Moore she intends to go to school to become a veterinary assistant and dog groomer. It’s ironic because before he showed the scene of her killing and skinning a rabbit and now she plans to go back to school to take care of animals.
His greatest use of irony though was showing the parade that occurred in Flint. Such a happy celebration should have never taken place because the city was falling apart due to the closing of all the plants.
Moore’s use of irony helps illustrate the differences between the rich and poor in the struggling city of Flint.
Michael Moore’s “Roger and Me” thrives on his use of irony. Much of his message is conveyed through the ironic juxtaposition of the way the upper-class people of Flint live and how the poor live. Though it is humorous at times, the reality of poverty in the city of Flint is overwhelmingly depressing. We see this especially in one of the opening scenes, in which Moore drives through the downtown area, showing us all the boarded up windows and shops, while the Beach Boys “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” plays in the background. This creates a feeling of deprivation in the viewers, because the scene in front of us is definitely not as cheerful or optimistic as the soundtrack. Another scene that shows Moore’s ironic tendencies is the scene in which the upper-class of Flint throw a grand opening party at the new jail, and couple are shown paying to spend the night in a jail cell. This is ironic because the reason for the new jail is that the crime rate in Flint has skyrocketed, and the city had to build a building one block wide in order to hold the influx of inmates. The celebration of this in the form of a party shows us the ignorance of the upper-class, and although it is a bit humorous, it is sad at the same time. Moore uses this irony symbolically to show that there is a disconnect between the reality of Flint, and the way the people of power see the economic situation.
Irony has a variety of different meanings but as I did my research on definitions I came across a meaning that really went well with Roger and me. The definition came from dictionary.com and stated irony as being a technique of indication through characteristics or plotting, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually stated. This definition fit well into the persuasive ironic tactics that Michael Moore Presented.
As I begin to watch this documentary I get a little confused but as Michael Moore continues to market his message I realize that the documentary means more then what we initially see. The film Roger and Me is a documentary filmed by Moore who is trying not only to get a message across but also an answer. The answer Moore is trying to get is why the people from the Union and GM are so careless about the jobs that were lost through the company. The message Moore is trying to deliver is that the reason behind the closing of several major plants is not the reason that GM says they are closing the plants. Some ways Moore influences this is through irony.
One specific scene that Moore uses irony is during the parade. An example is specifically when Ronald McDonald out of all people is riding down the street on a car and shouts out “isn’t this a great day for a parade”. This was one of the most important irony moments that Moore used to influence the audience to think more about the actual situation. The question that Ronald McDonald asked the crowd of thousands of jobless citizens seemed not only to be a rhetorical tactic but also a rhetorical question. There were plenty other moments during the parade that were ironic which played a big role in influencing the audience to understand what Moore was doing. The entire parade was ironic.
Another point in time where I found some irony is when Moore and the film crew go to the Great Gatsby party he interviews people attending the party about what they think about all the jobs that have been laid off recently. Here again we see people saying things like it's not as bad as it seems, when we were clearly just shown boarded up, almost demolished homes. Then the women with their husbands start talking about "all" the things Flint, Michigan has to offer, her examples are ballet and hockey that THEIR kids had access to. Not thinking that, that option is not available to everyone, they can afford it, regular people can't even afford their houses, let alone extra activities for their children.
Michael Moore uses irony masterfully in this film with his voice over editorials throughout the film and with the interview of the couple at the Great Gatsby party focusing on what is supposed to be good about Flint. The interview made them seem really out touch with reality
It was also very ironic that he was from the town of Flint and he knew what it had been compared to what it had become. That made it a perfect documentary because it made me the viewer who has never been to Flint, understand what was happening there, or at least Moore's view of what was happening there..
Moore also used his interview with Ms. Michigan during a parade that looked very depressing in the background with boarded up stores and less than excited attendees compared to her going on and winning the Ms. USA title as a kind of glamor versus depression. I also found it amazing that they put as much money as they did into the vacation and visitors and conventions department as a last ditch effort to get people to come to Flint on vacation or to bring conventions there.
Another scene that stuck with me was the optimism at the GM Christmas eve party compared to the fact that people were getting evicted from there home and the nonchalant attitude that the CEO had when Moore was finally able to ask him a few questions. Irony was used by playing happy Christmas music while touring the boarded up depressing looking town of Flint at the end of the film. Moore used the rhetorical device of irony in this film to show the viewer from his opinion that the upper class of people were out of touch with what was going on throughout the film.