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ERIC Number: ED357409
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993-Mar
Pages: 10
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
The Private Voice Made Public Record: "Common Threads" and Filmic Strategy.
Stoddart, Scott F.
This paper analyzes Robert Epstein's Academy Award winning documentary "Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt," which consciously employs a binary rhetoric, a "common" method, by which to read the complex narrativity of the Names Project Quilt (the quilt memorial to AIDS victims). The paper addresses the inherently rhetorical parallel between the documentary feature and argumentative strategy, purposely using it as a pedagogical model: the rhetorical methodology involved in argumentative instruction mirrors the process of the filmic event. The stories in film provide, collectively, a deeply politicized voice, speaking for those dead of AIDS, those who survive them, and those still living with HIV. Sequence is the initial organizing strategy for the documentary, split into two distinct parts: five "storytellers" make their private stories public, and these are interspersed with traditional documentary news reel footage. The next central element is character, the chief responsibility of the storytellers as they make public their personal grief. Epstein's use of dialogue/text sequencing allows three distinct levels of discourse: a standard "voiceover," the voice of the news footage, and the voices of the interviewees, revealing sadness, anger, and hope. The final point of perspective instrumental to documentary logic consists of motivation, similar in nature to the rhetorical "call to action." The film provides The Quilt with a public voice to awaken all Americans, to empower all spectators, as it reveals the traditional American notions of community spirit and effort in the face of personal horror. (SR)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A