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Manipulation Of The Truth In The Film 'Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry'

Decent Essays
Documentaries and manipulation of the truth
“Documentaries do not show us what is true but manipulate the viewer to accept a version of the truth.”
Documentaries aim to explore events or ideas that are true. However the truth is often lost when we consider other influencing factors, which include the filmmaker’s inherent bias, the need for a film to tell a single coherent story, and common documentary conventions which shape the viewer’s understanding. Held back by these issues, documentary makers cannot help but communicate their version of the truth to the viewer through both intentional and unintentional manipulation.
Filmmakers inherently have a personal belief in a version of the truth. Upbringing, societal norms, political views and many
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Many stylistic elements of documentaries, such as the use of archival footage, re-enactments, or real time footage have the potential to manipulate the viewer’s opinion on the truth. However the director cannot simply omit these stylistic elements as they are an integral part of conveying the truth, and in fact define the documentary as a film type. The film “Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry”, for example, uses techniques such as interviews and voiceovers when analysing the real life footage of Ai Weiwei. The opinions of the people interviewed strongly emerges in these scenes, manipulating the viewer’s belief towards their version of the truth. However without the use of analysis, the documentary has lost important elements of the truth. The director is unable to give context to the footage so it has much less meaning, and would be less useful and interesting to audiences. In a similar way, the film uses music to draw attention to aspects of the truth, highlighting what the director feels is the most important aspects of a scene. This will clearly manipulate the viewer’s belief in the truth, but without this music, the truth cannot be effectively conveyed as other visual cues may shift the viewer’s attention away from the most important information. Directors of all film types face this dilemma, and documentaries are among the hardest to get the balance between too much and too little manipulation right. However all filmmakers know that by using these conventions they are intentionally manipulating the viewer to accept their personal version of the
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