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Documentary Critique Assignment

Political Science – Fall 2009


Follow the Assignment closely: Do not use the standard high school-level approach of just summarizing the event, script or story to prove you saw it and then writing: “I like this video because it is so cool and the ending made me feel happy,” or “I hated this event because it was stupid, and had nothing at all to do with my life, and was too hard to understand.” Instead, take a systematic, analytical approach to the video.


1. At the beginning of your report, mention the title of the event or video, and if it is a movie, when it was filmed, the producer and major star or stars. Then, in the first half of the report briefly list the main content or ideas of the vent or video, and if relevant, the characters, main story-line of the video, when it was set and where.


2. Then, in the second half of the report, answer all of the questions below one by one:


a. What does the event or video have to do with you, personally, and with your life (past, present or future)? It is not acceptable to write that the video has NOTHING to do with you, since just about everything humans can write, perform or film has to do in some way with every other human.


                b. How much does the event or video agree or clash with your view of the world, and what you consider right and wrong? Give several specific examples of how it agrees with and supports what you think about the world, about right and wrong, and about what you think it is to be human. Use quotes and examples to discuss how the event or video disagrees with what you think about the world and about right and wrong.


                c. How much did you learn, and how much were your views and opinions challenged or changed by this event or video, if at all? Did the event or video communicate with you? Why or why not? Give examples of how you views might have changed or been strengthened (or perhaps, why the event or video failed to convince you, the way it is). Please do not write “I loved everything about the event,” since everybody disagrees about something, even if it is a tiny point. Use specific examples to illustrate your points of challenge, or where you were persuaded, or where it left you cold.


                d. How well does it address things that you, personally, care about and consider important to the world? How does it address things that are important to your family, you community, your ethnic group, to people of your economic or social class or background? If not, who does the event/video serve? Did it pass the “Who cares?” test? Use specific examples to illustrate.


                e. Viewing “{critically does not mean the same as criticizing,” in everyday language (complaining or griping, fault-finding, nit-picking). Your “critique” can and should be positive and praise the event or video if possible, as well as pointing out problems, disagreements and shortcomings.

f. How well did you enjoy the event or video (or not) as entertainment or as a work of art? Use quotes or examples to illustrate the quality of the event or video as art or entertainment, of course be aware that some videos are not meant to be entertainment or art—a serious documentary or new video, for instance, may be neither entertaining or artistic, but may still be important and successful. Also be aware that you may not be among the primary intended audience of the video or event.


                g. To sum up, what is your overall reaction? Would you experience or view something else like this, or by this group or producer in the future or not? Why or why not? To whom would you recommend this type of event or this video?