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Escape! Breakout from Alcatraz Analysis



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  • 1. Escape! Breakout from Alcatraz. Analysis
  • 2. Documentary type • This documentary is a mixed documentary, this is because there was a use of; interviews, narrations, reconstructions and archive footage. The documentary itself tells the story of the three men who escaped from Alcatraz prison in 1962 and uses archive footage/images to show evidence of their escape. The documentary also features some CGI animation as a reconstruction of the escape route the three men took. Reconstructions.
  • 3. Themes • The documentaries main focus is the three men who escaped the prison. The documentary explores how the men were able to do it and sheds some light on the convicts background and how they ended up in the prison. The documentary also explores the conspiracies surrounding their escape and where the convicts may be now.
  • 4. Layout • The beginning of the documentary introduces the criminals and the conspiracies. The audience learns about the four mean and how only three successfully escaped. We learn about the men's backgrounds and the fates of those who tried to escape but failed. • The middle of the documentary goes into full detail of the escape, we see CGI animation of the route they took out of the prison and tools they used in their escape. We also learn how they were able to do it as the men studied the prison before attempting the escape. • The end of the documentary goes through the different ideas that people believe happened to the men once they escaped. Some believe they made it to land, others believe they drowned. The documentary then goes into detail about ‘sightings’ of the men and suspicious communications the convicts may have had with their family.
  • 5. Camera Angles • There were a range of camera angles used in this documentary; • Ariel shot – This shot was used to show the layout of the prison, it also showed the audience that the prison was on it’s own island which backed up the idea that the escape was ‘impossible’. • Close ups – This shot was used the most when the convicts were escaping, it showed them digging the hole, the tools they used and close ups were also used to show what was written in their criminal records. • Mid shots – These shots were used during interviews, the background during the interview was always relevant. • High angle shot – This shot was used when the prisoners were moving through the prison during reconstructions, this made it look like actual footage and was presented like CCTV footage. High angle shot – looks like CCTV Ariel view of prison, shows the island.
  • 6. Mise En Scene • The documentary itself had a lot of dark/plain colours (blacks and greys) this may have been used to indicate prison life, as it is represented as dull and bleak. • The backgrounds to interviews were always relevant to who the person was that was being interviewed. A lady who’s father worked in the prison had a prison cell as her background, this is because she lived on the island with the prison so was very familiar with the prison itself. An old police chief had an American Flag as his background, firstly the escape took place in America but the flag also represents justice and bravery which the police chief would try to honour. Prison cell background of woman's interview (stays relevant to documentary)
  • 7. Sound • Both digetic and non digetic sound was used. • The digetic sound was narrations and interviews. The narrations were used when reconstructions were being played, the narrations allowed the audience to understand what was going on. • The non digetic sound was music being played throughout the documentary. The non digetic music was played mainly over the documentaries reconstructions, this added tension and suspense to the documentary which gripped the audience.
  • 8. Archive Footage • There was only some archive footage used as most of it was reconstructions. There was black and white footage from inside the prison, it showed the security system the prison used which showed the audience how hard it would have been to escape. There was also archive footage of criminals who had tried to escape and had failed. There was also some archive footage taken of the sea surrounding the prison, which backed up the idea that the sea was too dangerous to swim in or have a raft in when attempting to escape. Archive footage of prison.
  • 9. Editing • There was a small range of editing used in this documentary as the majority of it was reconstructions. There were fast cuts between the reconstructions and interviews which indicated the speed and the desperation of the escape. There was also CGI animation used, this allowed the layout of the prison to be presented. It also gave the creators a chance to recreate the escape the convicts took and allowed the audience to see the route the convicts took to successfully escape the prison. CGI Animation used to show route convicts took.
  • 10. Graphics • The documentary opened with a title card in bold white writing which read ‘Escape! Breakout from Alcatraz’ this immediately tells the audience what the documentary is based on. • There were also graphics of the names of the people being interviewed in the bottom right of the screen, their names were written in white which could indicate their ‘purity’ as they were the people at the prison who kept the criminals under control. Title card