Language and Visual Techniques

Language and Visual Techniques
As a film text, both the words and the visual elements need to be analysed to ascertain their
purpose in the text.
Language Techniques:
The use of questioning throughout the series is an important technique for both the
participants and the viewer. Questions usually lead to answers, either explicitly or indirectly.
In this regard, questions and answers are the very essence of discovery. Questions are used
throughout the series to:
Assist the participants get to know and understand one another.
Promote the element of uncertainty that is established within the experiment.
Allow insight into individual refugee experiences.
For the audience to comment and involve themselves directly with the participants.
Labels and Stereotypes
Many of the participants are quick to put labels and stereotypes on both the experiment
and the people involved in it. These labels help to show the audience what each of the
participants values and moral opinions are. As the participants progress through the
experience, a lot of these labels and stereotypes are altered, or discarded as the participants
come to discover the humanity of the issue.
Many of the words used in the voice over narration, and the participants own dialogue,
have a specific connotation – either negative or positive. The connotation that is implied is
usually part of an emotional discovery. The different connotations involve the way that
different aspects of the experiment are perceived by both the participants and the
Metaphors / Clichés
Even though this is a ‘factual’ text, the importance of metaphor is still evident. The narrator
often speaks in metaphor when describing the plight of the refugees and their experiences.
This is done to make simple connections with a wide audience, by speaking in language that
is easily understood. It is a metaphor that frames the purpose of the series, as Dr Corlett
explains “We need to walk in the shoes of refugees.” The use of metaphor in the text is not
necessarily for a figurative purpose, but rather for universal appeal. It is in this regard that
the metaphors appear to be more clichéd.
The series presents itself as a documentary in form, although it closely blurs the lines to
‘reality television. When defining film genres use these definitions from Critics Douglas &
Documentary: Educational or informative, authentic, ethical, socially engaged,
independently produced and serve the public interest.
Reality TV: Commercial, sensational, popular entertaining, and potentially
exploitative and manipulative.
Stunt Memoir: A walk in someone’s shoes for a period of time to expose inequality.
Think about the overlapping of these genres in GBTWYCF, and which genre you think
conveys more sense of authenticity. Consider the purpose of the text.
Subjectivity or Objectivity?
Documentaries usually claim to be objective truth, based on fact and with the removal of
subjective emotion. In contrast, a reality television show seeks to exploit the subjective, and
present direct to camera emotive responses. The blending of both objective and subjective
in the text allows a diversity of opinions and responses. This is particularly useful when
analysing the concept of discovery. Why?
Voice-Over / Narrator
The unseen narrator serves several different purposes:
To provide factual information and background about the lives of the refugees.
To provide background on the participants.
To provide detail about the events as they unfold.
In this text, the voice over also serves the purpose of framing certain participants in certain
ways to the audience.
The Subjective Camera
The camera is not a neutral element in any film. Camera angles, shot sizes, editing and
lighting all serve a purpose to make an audience feel a certain way. Throughout the series
the camera reveals conflict between the participants, heightens sympathy and empathy and
helps to create or maintain tone and atmosphere.