There are many advantages and disadvantages of film documentaries which can help someone learn about pretty much any topic they want to. Some documentaries are based on scientific concrete facts while others are based on opinion and feelings like the documentary Young Muslim and French.
One of the advantages of the documentary format is that unlike a book or article a documentary gives someone a visual image that can help to reinforce what the documentary is talking about. For example if talking about math one could see math problems and solutions which could help them to understand what is being talked about and with a documentary like the one we watched in class we got to actually see the person that was being focused on which plays more to emotions because unlike with reading getting to see an actual person gives a visual image instead of having to form one. We all know facts cannot be changed but opinions can be with the use of visuals that convey emotion.
We could see that Manal felt very compelled to wear her headscarf and that without it she felt she was dishonoring her religion and God. One good example of visuals was when she was showing off her room and there was a big yellow Pokemon Pikachu on her bed that would not have been known if there was no visuals. This helps someone to see she is a regular teenage girls who is just trying to live her life that way she thinks is best.
Another advantage is that we could actually hear Manal and others talk about their opinions. While this can be done in other formats like in a book it is again good to be able to see and hear someone talk about their feelings because it makes it more realistic and gives a more lasting effect to the subject that is being spoken about. You can also hear peoples tone of voice which can to convey emotion but also allows the viewers to get firsthand experience on how someone feels about something that cannot be experienced in another format with no sound. The story was personal to Manal.
However, there are also limitations to the documentary format simply because a documentary is meant to be watched and can only contain so much detail because of time constraints. In Young Muslim and French we get to see very limited opinions on the subject because there simply isn’t enough time to interview every Muslim girl in the school to see what their feelings are. There is also no time to interview parents, all the teachers or government officials to see what they feel about the subject because if they did the documentary would be hours and hours longer than people would be willing to watch.
Another disadvantage to the documentary format is there the is limited amount of information that can told again because of time constraints. Very little was said as to why there was a ban on head scarves but also was Muslim the only religion targeted or were Christian Crosses no longer allowed as well and how far did the school go to stop other religious items from being in school. Many issues were briefly mentioned such as teenagers not being able to get jobs, women only seeing women doctors and people being scared of Muslims but not much information was given on any one topic but a little information on lots of topics.
This documentary helped me to better understand and even made known to me that there was a ban on headscarves in French schools because previously I had no knowledge of this at all. I also liked the fact that the documentary format gave images and I could see real people which to me made the topic more real and had a great impact on me. Had I read this in a book I probably wouldn’t have given it much thought even if the book or article was about Manal but seeing a person and their struggles to finish school and follow the religion they thought was right really made things feel real to me.
I think what part of this subject would be better off in a book was more about Muslim religion overall and why the French government had a problem with religious symbols in school. I also would have liked to have known more about why no religious symbols were allowed all in school. I can understand wanting a separation of church and state because not everyone believes the same thing but I would like to know more about why it wasn’t even ok to wear a headscarf or a cross because it is not really effect anyone else and is a personal clothing choice. I also would have liked to have had the opinions of more people which would have been better suited for a book because books are generally much more in-depth that a documentary.
Overall, there are many advantages of the documentary format because of the way visuals, sounds and people can be used. However, there are also disadvantages and things that can be better or more effectively explained in a book.
Courtney from Study Moose
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