The DreamWorks effect–initial thoughts on dossier

Last week we were given a dossier to read on historical film and television and the problem of presenting history in an authentic way. The dossier focused on Band of Brothers, in particular detailing the camera work used, CGI and the documentary style of the filming. It also touched on the issues facing the use of CGI which is something that is closely related to my own project, so I will return to this later in the term.

To me one of the key points being discussed was the idea of authenticity, whether it is possible for dramatization to be deemed to ethically portray true events (stories supplied by veteran testimonies) while still providing a story that’s engaging and seemingly real, given the technology that is involved.

But what is authenticity when dealing with stories?

The references of the piece discussed the ‘spell of imitation’ and continually referred to the idea that art in various forms should be treated with suspicion when claiming to represent reality (SUTTON,D., 2010). But all art is an extension of ourselves, so maybe a form of truth, and film and television are no different. With the use of CGI and colour manipulation for added authenticity, the dossier mentioned that we become more removed from the actual truth.

Surely true reality can only be experienced if you’re actually there? So not through books, film or even stories handed down to the next generation. These kind of stories and the memories of the Veterans for that fact can get altered, forgotten, blended with other memories, so change over time.

As artists all we can hope to achieve is that we touch on something–some element of reality–an emotion that is authentic and portray it as honestly as we can. CGI is a tool to be used wisely so to not distract. Combine that with the shaky documentary camera work shown in Band of Brothers that allows the viewers to almost feel that they are there, or with subconscious symbolism in the use of colour for example, we can aim to develop a satisfying end product.

Now more that ever we need to look at the amalgamation of the role of designer, director, writers etc. as visual story telling seems to be a holistic process that blends the actors, pre-production, post-production, writing, soundtracks etc. seamlessly. For me dramatisations that neglect one of these cogs in the machine even fall short of  imitated ‘authenticity’.

Reference:-SUTTON,D., The DreamWorks effect:: the case for studying the ideology of production design (2010) [Online] Available at Screen.oxfordjournals.org

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