Sunday, September 5, 2010

Video Essays: The Wire's Opening Credits and Man Men's Visual Style

Looking back, the thing I liked most about Phillips' description of Pele from two posts ago is that it felt very much like a video essay, just with the commentary separated from the video, in this case taking the form of the paragraph preceding the video. Video essays are one of my favorite things about the internet: the mixing of mediums allows for smart people to demonstrate arguments and theories with the very evidence needed to best convince the reader of the point being made. Phillips did exactly that and this is why I was struck by the beauty of what he accomplished. I only recognized what he did as a video essay in retrospect.

These essays are perhaps the best form of commentary because it requires the writer to show his work. Video essays are particularly well suited to visual mediums, and there are loads of great ones illuminating films. But the low technological barrier of entry has allowed for some wonderful pieces on serious TV dramas. Here are two examples of what I mean, the first on the visual language of the first two seasons of Mad Men and the second on the opening credits of The Wire's first season.

RETRO: The Camera & 'Mad Men'
Uploaded by Jefferson_Robbins. - Full seasons and entire episodes online.


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