Chapter published in:Multimodal Argumentation and Rhetoric in Media Genres
Edited by Assimakis Tseronis and Charles Forceville
[Argumentation in Context 14] 2017
► pp. 166–188
The argumentative relevance of visual and multimodal antithesis in Frederick Wiseman’s documentaries
In this chapter we argue that certain salient contrasts that Frederick Wiseman presents non-verbally and multimodally in his Direct Cinema documentaries can be understood as antitheses that play an argumentative role. In this type of documentary, which renounces the use of voice-over narration and music, a filmmaker has to rely on cinematography and editing in combination with participants’ spoken language to guide viewers’ interpretations. We argue that the ways in which certain sequences and shots are filmed and edited as well as the way dialogue, image, and sound combine within the shot create multimodal meanings that can be accounted for in terms of antithesis and can thereby contribute to the argument developed by the filmmaker. We focus on instances of visual and multimodal antithesis in five of Wiseman’s early films (Titicut Follies, High School, Hospital, Juvenile Court, and Primate) and one later film (Zoo).
Published online: 20 December 2017
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List of films
Cited by 6 other publications
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