By Jeremiah Dohn
Explore a memory represented by a particular film and how it (dis)accords and intersects with your identity as well as how the chosen film rhetorically “elaborated, shaped, supported, or disrupted” your individual experiences.
Brainstorming and Goals
When I first embarked on the journey this project held in store for me, I was bombarded with self-imposed questions: What film should I choose? Where should I stage it? What kind of music and effects should I use? But most important of all, what should my message be? What identifies me as me?
For me, the most important question, ‘what does my identity consist of’, seemed to be reductive. How can any one person say that they are just one thing: a band student, a dancer, a football player, a student, a single parent, a teacher, an engineer, et cetera. The assignment then transformed into something new and different. It became not what represents my identity but what blinds people from seeing its multiple parts.
When I envisioned screening my short film, “A Beautiful Rose”, I created lesson to be presented in conjunction. Students would be asked to draw a picture, nothing artistic, nothing fancy. Then the short question-answer session would follow: what does it mean to you to have an avowed label? What does it mean to have a label ascribed to you? What other things are you? How did you try to include them, if you did, into your drawing?
I envisioned this short question-answer session providing some direction into my ‘lesson’ goals; however, time was of the essence and these questions were not able to come into fruition. Although, my goals remain the same: 1) the viewers will realize that any medium, whether it is film or a simple drawing on paper, could not encompass the entirety of one’s identity, only an entire lifetime of experience is sufficient; 2) as rhetoricians, the viewers will be able to ruminate on the question the film poses through image, text, white space, music; 3) viewers will be able to see the juxtaposition of film elements along with questions of posed toward heteronormative society and the creator’s identity to create a coherent critique.
Creation and Revision
In creation and presentation of this project, I came to the realization that film is a rhetorical argument and can be re-vised. Because of American capitalistic society where film is presented as a finished product, I never put much thought into film as being the modern novel. Film production consists of editing and recaptivating the emotion, through image and sound, and restyling it numerous times until the message is fine-tuned.
As I ruminated more on the use of film as a medium I came to the conclusion that there are fundamental differences in the creation of a film and the creation of a written argument. While pathos can play an important role in written or oral argumentation, it generally pales in comparison to logos; whereas, in film emotional appeals can take the foreground of a message and yet still balance with logic. Film depends on the audience’s ability to ruminate beyond ordinary stimuli; it requires them to synthesize and juxtapose emotion with logic in a coherent message. Thus, while the film greatly depends on the creator, the audience is equally important in the process.
Rhetorical Message and Film Analysis
The rose traditionally represents beauty and love. This image manifests itself in the viewer as ironic. The audience links the image of the rose with the protagonist who is raped and refuses to be further assume the role of the recumbent, exposed victim. The over-exposed and saturated the hues of the rose add a distorted, chimerical property to the protagonist; the act of the ‘rape’ colored his view of the world and the way the world sees him thereafter. The rose closes slowly and steadily throughout the film and I envisioned this to be seen on several levels: the viewer closing their mind about the protagonist, the protagonist closing his mind about a heteronormative society, and the social withdrawal that results from heteronormative tendencies.
I am captivated by the idea of the viewer, he or she who observes passively as events come to pass. I attempt to use this to my advantage where the viewer literally ‘walks in the shoes’ of the ‘rapist’ and to feel regret, rage, or emptiness over ‘their’ actions. The goal is to cultivate emotion within the viewer: a future contribution to society, the objectification of a fellow human being or themselves, a society which potentially drives its members to reprehensible actions.
The reason Beethoven’s first movement of “Moonlight Sonata in C# Minor” was culled is human language cannot begin to describe its poetic beauty. In addition, the minor qualities of the music beget somber yet whimsical feelings. The viewers are driven toward these feelings by the minor chords juxtaposed with image.
The audience is posed the final question: ‘will you continue to make me the object of your hate with your cruel words? Or…?’ The image of the rose fully bloomed that follows presents the possibility of future. However, this image is still saturated and over-exposed illustrate that the past is ever present, its history, remains with an individual or group identity.