• An examination of the emotional impact of the insertion of documentary footage into trauma cinema

      Badsey, Stephen; Pheasant-Kelly, Frances; Hockenhull, Stella; Yiassemides, Spyros C. (University of Wolverhampton, 2021-01)
      This thesis proposes that trauma cinema fiction films based on true dramatic events stand to gain much from utilising specific nonfiction material in their staged narratives and, furthermore, enhance emotional affect for the spectator. It deploys David Bordwell’s and Kristin Thompson’s (2017) formalist film theory to textually analyse a range of films, while also considering the dialogue between journalistic approaches and contemporary critical reviews of the films examined. The aim of this study is to show that there are similarities between certain films in the embedding and utilisation of documentary footage within the narratives of these films and that the footage has the ability to invite an emotional response in audiences, depending on certain personal factors and conditions. In general, previous work in Film Studies links actuality in feature films to greater emotional affect but does so epidermically. In other words, it fails to examine how footage which is real and not staged affects the emotional dynamics of the narratives in which it is inserted. The focus of this study is specifically on the 9/11 sub-genre where, arguably, the utilisation of actuality material in these films is a useful technique for encouraging an emotional response. Three films belonging to the 9/11 sub-genre of trauma cinema are examined in this work where there are certain commonalities of theme and style. These are World Trade Center (Stone, 2006), United 93 (Greengrass, 2006) and Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow, 2012). There is also an emergent pattern in the way that actuality footage is deployed within the three films’ narratives, namely through props such as television sets, which appears to influence how the associated nonfiction content is relayed. Arguably, this delivery of the footage is more easily assimilated by audiences familiar with this initial mode of communication of the events of 9/11. Theoretically, the results produced mean that filmmakers can utilise documentary inserts in the same effective way as other emotion-eliciting cinematic devices, such as close-ups, cut zoom ins, and poignant non-diegetic music, to augment the narrative engagement of the spectator and to enhance the experience. In summary, this thesis contributes to knowledge in that it identifies possible usage of documentary inserts in the narratives of feature films not previously considered and suggests ways in which the emotional potential of these inserts can be exposed therein. It therefore provides a new way to think about calibrating the emotional barometer of these films through heightening the realism of their storylines by making use of documentary inserts