Tarnation Essay

642 words - 3 pages

“Tarnation” is one of the most struggling and outstanding autobiographical documentary that I have ever seen. I had even considered it to be a horror film during the first half of the movie since it has many scenes that are riddled with violence and bloodiness. It features mental illness, rape, abuse, and homosexuality all wrapped up in the touching chronological framework of family love. With the development of the film, my emotion just flowed with Jonathan’s story. I was taken through a broad range of emotions, which include fear, surprise, excitement, and upset as I witnessed the ups and downs of the story. Being the storyteller as well as the filmmaker, Jonathan opened the whole personal world to us and shared all his views about life with us without doubt. “Tarnation” is a man’s bold expression to tell the story of his own life, and for me, it just shook my heart and my mind. As with Renov’s first thesis about autobiography and documentary where “the ...view middle of the document...

In traditional documentaries audiences are forced to listen to the narrator’s voice, telling you what is happening, what did happen, and what will happen. In this film, Jonathan employed the visual texts to give us more attention towards the images on the screen. With these words displayed on the screen, we focus on Jonathan, his mother, the other characters, and the environment that is around him. The author tried to record many things that he experienced at his young age regarding Jonathan’s mother, his grandparent, his childhood friends or youth friends, which is very shocking, but it looks like real true. This is the approach that Jonathan wanted to provide us with “visible evidence”. As Renov said, “fictions of the self in the non-fiction film”, to some degree, this film is not well-structured and looks cluttered. Jonathan cut some scenes, and then combined one scene with another, or repeated some scenes in different situations, which looks strange for me. However, this is the chaotic and vicious life that Jonathan wanted to present. I can feel his troubled childhood, his emotions, and his struggling from the editing techniques. The other trick that Jonathan uses to echo the reality of the film was music, which nearly griped my heart at every turn in the film. I want to say that music is a major element that compliments with all the characters in the film, and both contributed to tell audiences the truthfulness of the film. The music in the film really helped set the mood and the tone for the entire film. It helped build the tension and gave us raw human emotion that formed the foundation of this film.
One of Renov’s theses applied to this film is a historical point. “Filmic autobiography is nothing new”. From Renov’s point, autobiography is a tried and true form in the realm of the avant-garde rather than the non-fiction film. Jonathan Caouette proves that he is a pioneer in autobiography documentary industry. A series of photographic images said to have been made by Jonathan are given to this view. He recorded this film through several ways, such as recording himself directly, recording himself via mirror, recording himself with other people, and recording other characters. These photographic images with the text commentary became the cornerstone to show the point of this film.

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