“When The Levees Broke” Credits

It was about the time right before Spring break when our English 432 course watched the credits for the Hurricane Katrina documentary , When the Levees Broke. It was during this class period that we analyzed each of the credited, there role in the film, and the interesting way they were filmed for their section in the credits. More specifically, we tried to interpret the reasoning behind having each of the interviewees pose behind individualized picture frames. Professor McCoy had told us that Spike Lee is a rather specific director, having reasons behind most if not all of the decisions made for his films. Is there a deeper meaning behind the use of picture frames? Personally, I believe that these frames were used as a filming tool which intended to help viewers focus on the faces of the interviewees, rather than what was going on around them. In class, I heard plenty of ideas, most of which involved the course text by Joseph Roach, “Echoes in the Bone”. Some of these ideas revolved around his definition of effigies such as the possibility of these picture frames acting as a metaphorical window into the role of the interviewee for the documentary. Another idea that I heard was that each frame may have been chosen by each interviewee or even that they were chosen to match the interviewees’ personality. It is possible that I am just attaching my own theories to someone else’s, but I do believe I heard one group discuss the possibility of these frames memorializing the interviewees as the hero/victims of the documentary. Thus the frames effigize them, as Roach might say, in that they have suffered so much only to become an effigy for their very suffering. But not once did I hear someone say, nor did I think of this myself at the time, that this could have simply been a filming technique. That this could have just been to help viewers focus on the person speaking. I understand that this might be an satisfyingly simple answer, but I do want to throw this possibility out there for people to question. I think that many people, especially myself, tend to overlook the simplest answers. We might expect so much from topics as complex as this one, but then we (me) will try too hard to find an answer that might be staring at us in the face. I’m not in the slightest claiming to be right on this matter; however, I do think that we all should just take our time when addressing a complex topic. An idea will come to us in time, even if it does not come as soon as we might like.

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