- What is the title of the film, what (brief summary) is it about (subject, topic)?
The film is entitled Inside Job. A documentary film made in 2010, Inside Job garnered praise and recognition for its creative, accurate, and enlightening narrative of the 2008 economic crisis. The film traces the roots of the problem through an introductory example of Iceland, whose attempts to expand the economy through deregulation policies backfired – particularly on the financial sector. It is later explained that Iceland was not the only country who tried to use deregulation as a tactic and failed. The story of Iceland eventually precipitated to the history of the 2008 global financial meltdown with the closing of Lehman Brothers and insurance giant American International Group. The film is subdivided into five parts.
- Why did you choose this documentary to view? What did you expect to learn or experience from this film?
I chose to view this documentary because it is socially relevant, timely, and provides a clear and concise account of the 2008 crisis, one of the biggest crises to hit the world. The crisis was a dark period in the lives of many Americans and it negatively affected the lives of people in other countries. The film sheds some light.
Before I watched the entire documentary, I expected to learn hidden or undisclosed stories. It is common for many documentaries to include ample exposés so as to make the whole story more captivating and meaningful. So I looked forward to experiencing the thrill of discovering the “secrets” behind the 2008 crisis.
- What was the central point of this film? That is, what was the overall focus, goal or mission of the filmmaker? Think of it like an essay: What was the thesis statement?
The central point of this documentary film is to relay to the readers that the 2008 global financial meltdown was not an accident. Many people foresaw its coming. The filmmaker must have wanted the audience to know the real score of the problem to raise awareness and for future guidance.
- How did the filmmaker support that central point? Topics? Facts? Stats? Interviews? Comparisons? Describe them; don't just list them.
The filmmaker creatively supported his central point. He made mention of lengthy timelines, injected a historical narrative, used statistical data and graphs, interviewed key individuals, and provided records of speeches, legislative hearings, and past interviews.
When he claimed that it was not an accident, as told by narrator, the filmmaker immediately provided a timeline. For instance, he inserted footages of Regan with a narration at the backdrop, saying that his administration began a deregulation trend which lasted for 30 years. This gives the audience the idea that the crisis was a result of years and years of strategy that was not right from the very beginning. He also used graphs and moving outlines to demonstrate that the bankers and some legislators were very well aware that the new financial schemes were sure to make the economy collapse but “they just didn’t want to [do anything about it].” The securitization food chain, the incomes, the leverage outbursts are all visually and statistically represented.
The individuals interviewed were professors from leading universities such as Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford. There were also legislators like Eliot Spitzer, cabinet members from various administrations like David McCormick, Undersecretary of the Treasury under the Bush regime, and the Finance Minister of France as of 2010, Christine Lagarde. These individuals were asked insightful questions about the crisis’ and its foreseeable beginnings, which most of them answered in the affirmative.
- Describe at least five examples in the film in which the filmmaker effectively used some of the techniques listed below by making the scene easier to follow or understand, drive home a point, enhance the drama/emotion/impact, keep your attention:
Used cutaway shots to exemplify the speaker's or narrator's point
Used sound, either natural or inserted, to enhance the scene
Used text or graphics
Used lighting, camera angles, camera movement (such as pan, tilt, zoom, dolly) or editing techniques (such as cut, fade, dissolve, crosscutting, flashback, eye-line match, slow motion, fast motion, double exposure, black and white, grainy)
The filmmaker uses a good deal of archival footage. There are footages of banks like Meryl Lynch, Lehmann Brothers and Morgan Stanley in the first half of the 20th century, when they were still small time banks. There are also footages of past and recent legislative proceedings and presidential speeches. Worthy of note are footages of Regan, Bush, and Obama.
The cutaway shots are attributed to Iceland, which was just the introduction of the film, but is not what the film is really about. Other cutaway shots include the big mansions owned by wealthy bankers, the clubs they go to, and the places where they make their unreasonably expensive purchases. All these shots serve to add more interest to the point established.
Sounds are heavily employed throughout the film. At the introductory part on Iceland, sound is limited. When the scene switches to New York and the Stock Exchange building, louder and hipper music is played to emphasize the grandness of the city. Serious parts, like when the losses are finally discussed, use more serious sounds. Soundtracks included
Text or graphics are used frequently to emphasize or demonstrate some arguments. Texts are also used to introduce the name of the person currently speaking. Graphics come in the form of charts and outlines, which the filmmaker used to explain the movement of money, a system. When he explains about the “Securitization Food Chain,” for example, the graphs move, disappear, and reappear, and the whole interplay of visual and narration gives the audience a clearer understanding of his point.
Editing is superb. Various lighting, camera angles, and camera movement are evident throughout the entire documentary. The transition from one scene to another is smoothly facilitated with a bunch of fade, slow and flash motions, dissolve, and black and white among others. The camera makes use of various angles too. Most interviewees sit right across the camera, some are in a side view position, while others sit obliquely sideways. Some also look larger because the camera zooms in on their image while speaking; others are normal-sized with half of their torso showing.