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  • film review : make a comparative evaluation of documentary codes that inform two films which is THE TWO ESCOBARS BY MICHEAL ZIMBALIST AND JEFF ZIMBALIST and SALAAM CINEMA, BY MOHSEN MAKHBALBAF, IRAN, 1995 normally a review will discuss the structure i

Film review : make a comparative evaluation of documentary codes that inform two films which is THE TWO ESCOBARS BY MICHEAL ZIMBALIST AND JEFF ZIMBALIST and SALAAM CINEMA, BY MOHSEN MAKHBALBAF, IRAN, 1995 normally a review will discuss the structure i Essay Example

Film Reviews

Order No. 377217

‘The Two Escobars’ by Michael and Jeff Zimbalist, is a sports story taken from the pages of history and reflects the dreams and passions of a collective group of people closely linked to the rise and fall of an endearing team of players. The directors believed that bringing out some of the definitive and memorable events in sports history would not only grab the attention of the audience but would serve to turn our logic upside down and make us realize that at most times, the world of sports does not confine itself only to the playfield but goes beyond that boundary into the dark recesses of glamour and vice. In this particular narrative we find an inextricable connection between the Colombian soccer game and Pablo Escobar’s Meddlin Drug Cartel.

This particular story was chosen for the historical, political and economical significance it held for the people of Columbia. During the period when drug cartels ruled the streets and the murder rate escalated to dizzy heights, the Colombian soccer team blazed out with a new image for their country after remaining in obscurity for decades. The two people responsible for the success of the team were the captain Andres of the National Team and the infamous drug baron Pablo who was the pioneer of the underworld and who had brought out the phenomenon known as ‘Narco-soccer.’ When expectations were high for the Columbian team to win the World Cup in 1994, the hopes of the whole nation were crushed by the shocking murder of Andres Escobar. Investigations follow to unravel the mysteries of the secret marriage of crime and sport that finally leads to the murders of Andres and Pablo.

‘The Two Escobars’ is a documentary film portraying both sides of the story of Andres and Pablo. Most of the script of the documentary was based on important issues provided by their family members. Each family wanted to immortalize their loved one in a particular way and this was taken care of by both the directors since losing a loved one is a very sensitive issue. Another important point, from the perspective of a documentary is the message that it portrays. Though Andres was the sacrificial lamb, yet he was instrumental in lifting the veil of Colombian soccer to reveal that it was badly infected with the drug monies that have permeated the walls of good sport. This message was brought out loud and clear, in the documentary film and had a great impact on the Colombian people. It served to trigger an arduous campaign to help weed out such narco- influence that spoilt the spirit of true sport. In order to get the right message across, a lot of in-depth interviews were carried out between the family members, team- mates, friends and associates of both the parties. Two interview subjects were made use of in the film.

The Soundtrack for ‘The Two Escobars’ was composed by Ion Furjanic and reflects both the world of sport as well as the underground world of drugs. The music was inspired by Andres and Pablo and has a heavy Cambodian flavor with the use of a lot of drum beats. The musical score made use of contrasting forces sharing common ground in some areas. The music captured the pride and unity of great celebration as well as brought out the secret partnership shared between narcotics and sport. Towards the end of the film a great sense of loss and desolation is experienced and the music dispenses with heavy percussion and beats to bring out that sense of loss. Ion Furjanic describes his music for the film as a ‘two headed beast’ with extroversion on one hand and introversion on the other. The camera work was brilliant and stuck close to the plot by shooting the live interviews as well as making use of previously shot footage of Andres and Pablo. No voiceovers were used for the narration of the story, because the directors thought it was best to use the voices of the Colombian interview subjects themselves. ‘The Two Ecobars’ is a good example of good contemporary documentary because it makes use of digital media technology.

Mohsen Makhmalbaf, is a film director, screen writer and producer who directed the Iranian film, ‘Salaam Cinema’.(1994) ‘Salaam Cinema’ is considered to be cinéma-vérité because it attempted to portray subjects as they existed in their most natural surroundings, yet maintaining the sensationalism of past cinematic movements. Long ago, cinema was looked upon as a medium of entertainment and sensation, but with the advent of cinéma-vérité, the face of cinema was revolutionized and became a vehicle that could be used to educate by projecting the cause of various social issues. Just like the documentary film of ‘The two Escobars’, ‘Salaam Cinema’ too made use of specific cinematic codes and filming techniques which involved the fusion of natural setting taken from previously documented work and merging it with the mainstream devices of cinematography and other staged scenes.

The directors of cinéma-vérité work with a specific purpose in their mind and try to showcase their subjects in the most realistic way possible. The filmmakers choice of their subjects are poor and destitute people who have gone through a lot but have been overlooked by society. Filmmakers such as Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Michael and Jeff Zimbalist, share common ground by way of bringing about social change in the society and helping it progress in the right direction. During their prime period, cinéma-vérité

became a powerful tool of social commentary.

‘Salam Cinema’ focuses on the dreams and aspirations of an amateur group of actors who come to audition for a part in the film made by Mohen Makhmalbaf who captures the deep sentiments of the Iranian people towards the film industry. All these auditions went to make up what the film is all about. During these auditions the director demanded the actors to cry, laugh and shout while acting out their small part. Much is revealed through these auditions, especially the fact that the chief reason to want to become actors is because they want to walk in another person shoes even if it is for a little while. The movie reflects the general discontentment of the Iranian people. One of the cinematic codes made use of in the film is ‘Self- reflexivity’ which is easily represented by filming the camera crew right through the auditions. Salaam Cinema, just like in Zimbalist’s documentary ‘The Two Escobars’ makes a social and political statement in the hope of bringing about a change for the better within society. Both these movies which have attracted a lot of critical appraisal has made use of the codes of self-expression to bring about a revolutionary change while offering the audience a chance at new life.


Interview: Jeff and Michael Zimbalist


Iran: Iranian Cinema: Mohsen Makhmalbaf


Salaam Cinema


The Two Escobars


The Two Escobars Soundtrack