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Media – ‘When the Levees Broke’ Essay

A Spike Lee documentary looking into the tragic event of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. It shows camera footage and interviews from various people such as: residents , politicians and police men who were all caught up in the disaster.

Divided into four parts, the film goes on for four hours. During this, numerous people with different roles are interviewed regarding their experiences. Spike Lee has introduced the film but using archive footage and photos of New Orleans. It shows the damage, debris and severe flood scenes that were left behind after the breech of the levees. Also, Spike Lee has used music effectively to show and add emotion to the narration and commentary. He has varied the kind of music that is being played throughout the film. He would use a slow, calm piano piece for a distressing scene.

Whereas for a scene where help and aid is being sent, there would be a more up beat and military piece of music. There were a lot of sounds. Sounds varying from helicopters and cars to narration and commentary. Usually when a witness was being interviewed, background sounds were muffled out. This allowed what the witness was saying to have more meaning and get the message across more effectively. The interviewees all discussed their emotional state during the though times. Some cried and other spoke in an angry tone.

Politics played a large role in terms of the slow, emergency response to the tragedy. Many politicians were interviewed and mostly claimed they were unaware of what had happened in New Orleans. What was even more shocking, was how long it took president Bush to become conscious of the issue. This happened on the fifth day after the hurricane. People were starving, searching for shelter and trying to find missing relatives. Some tried to leave the city, but were met by military men with guns, who had just instructed them to go back. These politicians were abusing their power and forgetting about what really had to be done.

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