Chess is a game of strategy and patience. You need to be flexible and adaptable. I have a feeling that the subject from the video “obysseus’s gambit” would be quick to agree that life and chess have striking similarities. He was forced from Cambodia, his family stolen from him, and now he is practically homeless, relying on the compassion of passersby for his next meal. 

This documentary is the normal day in the life of a very abnormal individual. His abnormality is what draws our interest, what makes him an ideal candidate for the subject of a documentary. Is this just because he’s homeless and therefore lives a life entirely different from ours’? Maybe. 

One of the strategies I noticed the director using was the juxtaposition of the chess game and the man’s life story. It’s as though he is telling his life through a chess game, which I found to be a really masterful technique. It made the story unique. I don’t any of us would argue that this man’s life is difficult, sad, and maybe even lonely. It’s a lifestyle that none of us know. However, the director is able to convey this man’s experiences in such a simple way, through a chess game. 

Another strategy I noticed was towards the end when the director used footage from Cambodia (I assume) in order to further illustrate this man’s experiences. The director then cuts to a close up of the man, making him seem so vulnerable, which was a valuable moment to me since he seems so sure of himself throughout the entire piece. This transition was really powerful because it conveyed an insane amount of emotion in such a simple way. 

After rereading those two paragraphs about techniques, I guess what stuck out to me most was the simplicity of the direction in this piece. It allowed me to see the man for who he was without being distracted by overediting and music. I am most definitely going to keep this in mind for my own video. 

How can we strike a balance between simplicity and artful editing?

SJM

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