The use of archival footage in documentary rhetoric
Grue, Amanda Michelle.
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This thesis examines the ways in which archival footage are used in documentary rhetoric. Based upon Aristotle's Rhetoric, there are two types of proof: inartistic and artistic. I argue that there is an inherent truth claim to archival footage based on its indexical bond to the historical event it captures and suspends in time, which gives the footage merit as evidence. However, evidence alone is not absolute truth. All evidence is subject to interpretation and argument. Once archival footage is placed into the larger context of a documentary film to support or refute an argument about a particular historical event, it becomes artistic proof. I use examples such as the Zapruder and Holliday footage to demonstrate inartistic proof (the truth claim of footage), and the compilation films of Emile de Antonio and Esther Shub to demonstrate the use of Aristotle's three types of artistic proof: ethical, emotional, and demonstrative. The final section of this essay discusses my film, The Great Ocean of Truth, which is a compilation film, and its use of context to create meaning, and the importance of both inartistic and artistic proofs in documentary rhetoric.