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Documentary Techniques Of The Two Escobars Film Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1392 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Wells (2003) defined documentary is “A Non-fiction text that uses footages of the actual event, which included the direct recording of events and will be presented consisting materials related to the events such as interview, statistic, etc. (p. 212)

Gierson (2010) refers “documentary as a method of cinematic publication, in this term is called “creative treatment of actuality”. Because there is a creative treatment, just like in any other fiction films, documentaries built and can be seen not as a record of reality, but as a kind of ‘other representations’ of reality itself. (p. 8). In personal point of view, documentaries are often regarded as the recording of actual-piece based on the incident that actually take place, when a situation involves “real people” in real life to talk and react spontaneously without media intermediary.

In this essay, I will be discussing about documentary movie “The Two Escobars”. This movie review will basically identify techniques and style of documentary which were used by the directors, Jeff and Michael Zimbalist.


There are two styles of documentary such as Direct Cinema and Cinema Verite. Chapman (2009) discussed “Direct Cinema is a technique which enables documentary makers to film without elaborate preparation and unscripted.” Direct cinema is sometimes referred as the “fly-on-the-wall” approach because the filmmaker is an objective observer. (p. 10). Nichols (1991) discussed this as “Observational model of representation”. The term means the director is being “here” as they only observe, take less control over lighting and shots, leaving the social actors free to act and there is no interaction between actor and director. Some direct cinema traditionalist believes that even interviewing the subject is too much intrusion. In simpler words, the filmmakers take a passive role in making documentary; they do not intrude on the subject and do not instill opinion in the choice of shots and editing.

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Cinema Vérité means that film editors are required to adhere to the order of the events films rather than re-arranging them. This will formulate confusion between the two. (Chapman, 2009, p. 10). The difference is that the filmmakers play an active role by provoking a reaction from the subject or voice an opinion through options of shots and editing. Nichols (1991) called this technique as “Expository Mode”. It means the filmmakers use several components such as narration, footages and interviews to preset an explanation about a subject and leave the spectators with their own interpretation. This mode creates identification of character which is being framed in the film.

The movie “Two Escobars” is a hybrid of these two techniques. The directors demonstrate the existence of extended range of cultural opportunities such as subtitled films. (Chapman, 2009, p. 18). Filmmakers Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist deliver to us an event of two unrelated Columbian men who shared surname “Escobar” and somehow were connected in the world of soccer. One is Pablo, a notorious drug lord famous with his money launderette dealing. The other one is Andre, a soccer superstar of Columbia national team and he has nothing to do with Pablo’s filthy occupation. Although being in different realm, the two gain popularity and luck in their own ways.

The elements of Direct Cinema and Cinema Vérité were shown in the movie while the directors were not truly involved in the making whereas they still played an active role in combining and putting dynamic shots and editing. It is a outstanding set of visual moves, and two characteristic, a documentary that jointly draws some narrative fibers, numerous historical events, and a compilation of subjects who are variously skeptical, self-aware, and resolutely romantic.

Besides, the directors assembled wide-ranging set of footage. They are able to transmit huge amounts of information in small portion of screen time, all given a driving momentum by a raw and eclectic score. It can be seen through the footages on how the death of Pablo and Andre gave a devastating effect towards nation and its people. They have also gained access to an impressive array of interviewees. Those people are Pablo’s former right-hand man tell us a story about drug scenes of period time and others are Andre’s fiancée, family and teammates openly talk about random acts where Andre’s firm belief in ending violence in Columbia but then ended up being a victim.

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Furthermore, the narration passes smoothly between these two Escobars, sport and drugs. The transitions between each scenes and footages together with narration along the way were creating emotional feelings between the spectators and the movie itself. Chapman (2009) discussed this form of representation as “Exposition”. It means where a third person narration explains the situation or experiences of other third person. It tends to create empathy toward spectators rather than direct identification. It formulates on how we would react or feel in such a situation. (p. 29). They construct their case realistically with few repetitions. There’s remarkable emotional energy in their masterful use of existing footage, especially of soccer games, and in their present-day interviews.

The Zimbalists’ clear-sighted approach to this very complex story is what raises this film to another level. Although they document the affect of drugs and violence on the local populace, at one point, this documentary shows different character of Pablo where he was winning heart and mental support by Columbian through his generosity towards poverty. He provided soccer fields, built home for those who were living in slums and regardless, his funding for National soccer team.

In addition, Films and the influence coincidentally or not, are tangible. The film has inherited a number of the audio/visual gimmicks that sensibly including the contrived, more-than-occasionally silly slow-mo, the music that leaves no emotional response to chance, and the jumpy, neon-tinted reenactments. The elements were shown in breathtaking, nostalgic and touching images of Andres as he appears on the field, in pensive close-ups shots, shyly professing his faith in God. And yet the film makes a persuasive broader reflection, tracing the social and political moving parts that connected soccer, gangsterism, and money.

In recent days, it is inevitable that world of football plays a prominent role. In reality, the magnetism of football has become colossal and phenomenon toward all people in the universe. It doesn’t matter how different the cultures, ethnicity, religions, and nations, football successively has built a huge friendship, togetherness in the green field. Reportedly, in Brazil and Argentina, football has become a part of their daily lives. Public spaces such as the outskirts of the street, shopping centers, schools, office building, or terrain of community activities appear to play football. Children, adults and elderly people mingle together in the rhythm of football.

Besides, football also should be seen as a development of political context. Many politicians use football to strengthen their prestige of politics, for example former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, he owns the AC Milan football club. Political parties are the arena or field to build sense of democratic, in term of football, the “green field” is their political component to build what they call as democracy, where they build togetherness of nation based on mutual interest. In a democracy, public interest is the main precedence and then self-interest. Democracy is defined as a creation of justice and common welfare for all the people. Unfortunately, what stands out is football has become their own personal ambitious action to achieve their own personal prestige and popularity.

In conclusion, Jeff and Michael Zimbalist have created a masterpiece. “The Two Escobars” is a brilliant film that illustrates how a simple game can be so meaningful to an entire nation.


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