Great Achivements

In “Amar (All Great Achievements Require Time)” Andrew Hinton uses distinct style choices to achieve his effects.

With the exception of ambient noise and unintelligible background speaking, it is a silent film. This lack of dialog–especially the lack of  an authoritative narrating voice–draws the viewer in. It gives the impression that we are watching Amar in real-time; it lowers our guard against artifice and allows to us believe we are seeing him for ourselves.

In lieu of words he uses specific shots to ensure that the audience knows what is going on. He frequents close up shots of actions, such as Amar’s shining his shoes, stocking the grocery store, and studying at home–In this way we get the story without words, making the connection to the audience that much more organic.

The twofold effect of the silence of the film emerges as we hear Amar speak in class. This is the only direct line of speaking. At face value it shows his persistence in his struggling with the text, but it is more than that. He reads:

“It is difficult to realize how much this safety means. Without safety higher activities of mankind which make up civilization, could not go on.The inventor cannot invent, the scientist cannot find out or the artist make beautiful things. Hence order and safety, although they are not themselves civilization are things without which civilization as the air, we breathe.”

After some searching I found the passage was from “Our Own Civilization” by C.E.M. Joad, a philosopher. In literature, we would call this an allusion. By deliberately isolating this passage he parallels the boy to these philosophies–the disarray of Amar’s civilization to these explanatory philosophies; his struggle to the struggle of the oppressed man against any civilized society. Using this, he elevates the themes addressed in the documentary and connects this individual story with a more universal being.

The title itself is an allusion–taken from a quote by Maya Angelou. Again, the reference to this text parallels Amar’s story to similar plights and connects it to a larger whole.

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