Today I woke up at 7:00am, I read an assignment for one class, ate breakfast as I finished the last 6 pages of the reading, packed my backpack, and got ready for class. After driving to campus, I walked to the Cathedral for our class, after which I ate lunch in the library while reviewing these video portraits, followed by two more classes, then returned to my car and drove home. Thirty minutes of sitting in traffic later, I arrived home to make dinner, ate, and have now returned to my computer to continue working. It is now 7:00pm. I have been busy for exactly 12 hours, yet I continue working, striving to stay on top of my assignments and be prepared for another day.
I have never sat down and wrote out exactly what I spent my time doing since I awoke, however, after watching Amar’s video portrait, it struck me just how hard some people must work in order to achieve their dreams. I can honestly say that I am feeling exhausted at this point but then I consider what Amar did in one day, my accomplishments loom far behind his.
There were two compositional strategies, in particular, I picked up on while watching Amar’s video portrait that struck me as extremely impactful: the director’s repetitive notation of time and the numerous scenes where the camera follows Amar on his bike—noting his mode of travel. As the camera appears to follow Amar, with nearly no textual or oral guidance to tell us where he is going, we witness his daily routine and at the film’s end, come to understand that all of his efforts are a means to attaining an education.
The theme I detected in this piece, in one word, is dedication—the dedication one must have in order to become educated in a developing nation. The repetition of showing the audience the time of day displays how much Amar must accomplish in his day and how long he must spend working in order to get his education. The time reminds us how dedicated he must be in order to achieve his dreams. In America, we take for granted just how privileged some of us are. We complain about getting up for an 8am class or having to commute from point A to point B in order to get to class and some of us may grumble over the reality of having to balance working a few days while also going to school. We are all college-aged adults. Amar appears to be a child, perhaps a young teenager. He worked two jobs each day, awoke long before sunrise, and studied long after sunset. He appeared dedicated.
The second technique I noted, mode of transportation—the bike scenes— further emphasized Amar’s dedication by depicting what he had to do in order to complete his daily activities. He rode his bike everywhere, without it he may not have been able to perform all the activities we witnessed.
These strategies helped create empathy—allowed the audience to truly connect with Amar and feel his dedication, understand the amount of time he had to dedicate in order to achieve an education.
Although this video portrait was twice as long as the one I will compose, I believe the simplicity in the editing, the use of a few repetitive techniques that complimented each other and reinforced one central theme are helpful insights that I can apply to my own work. The video portrait captured who Amar was by following him; showing the audience what he saw, allowing the audience to listen to what he heard, and providing a timeline to put it all into context. This style of video portrait was very impactful to me, yet feels possible to re-create of my partner with dedication and time.
As we have been studying the topic of archiving, our discussion has turned to what is and is not legitimate to archive and what drives the creation of an archive, the present or the future. Applying this to our video portrait assignment, what is a legitimate theme for a video portrait? How can we determine the one thing about another person that is worthy of documenting for the future to remember him/her by?