• Henry M Green

Contextual Analysis - Mcqueen

Documenting the life and works of the iconic fashion designer Lee Alexander Mcqueen, this documentary shows every ounce of why Mcqueen was a creative genius. Throughout the entire documentary it uses cuts from interviews with former colleagues, friends and close family. Combined with archival footage and b-roll shots to enhance the flow and rhythm of the documentary to appeal to the audience. It also embeds voice-overs from interviews with Mcqueen to make the film feel more personal to the audience. Like a conversation the film speaks to the audience in an almost biased way towards Mcqueen sympathising with him occasionally. The film is constructed extremely intricately for example in this time line I have presented over a minute.

Archival interview voice of Joyce mcqueen 4:31 -> picture of young mcqueen 4:33 -> archival interview voice of Joyce mcqueen 4:38 -> something shot 4:42 -> Inside Anderson and Sheppard v.o 4:50 -> picture of mcqueen vo mcqueen and Hitchcock 4:59-> picture of master tailor 5:04 vo m & h ->inside Anderson and Sheppard vo Danny hall 5:06 -> inside a&s vo mcqueen 5:18 -> archival interview vo continuing 5:26-> something shot 5:34 -> archival koji tatsumo vo 5:41 -> interview koji tatsumo vo continuing 5:45

This time line shows over twelve different scenes and interviews with seven different interviewees. This time line proves the complexity a documentary requires, it also shows the vast amount of time involved planning, recording and editing the film, to only gain a minute forward in the story. In Mcqueen the subject of the documentary is obviously to document the key events of the life of Alexander Mcqueen. However I have noticed, a lot of b-roll shots that are used in a wallpaper technique to symbolise the iconic Mcqueen skull. The film-makers use the skull b-roll shots in every chapter of the documentary to constantly remind the audience of the fate of the documentary. Although Mcqueen is presented in a good light at the start of the documentary, placing the skull after every collection, reminds the audience of the fate of Mcqueen and ultimately where the documentary is leading to. Using a skull to represent death is not the only reason it is used throughout the film. This skull is present throughout all of Mcqueen’s work and a symbol that is currently used for his brand today. However, the idea of the skull not only links to mcqueen’s style of design, which is often dark and graphic, but the unfortunate event that takes place at the very end of his life. So the wallpaper technique not only helps create the style of the documentary, but aids the connection between Alexander Mcqueen and the audience.

I have also noticed the filmmakers have used a vast amount of b-roll and archival footage to convey his story, often using Alexanders voice as a voice over, again using it to try and connect his story to the audience. As well as using Alexander’s voice the film-makers interview people that have worked with Mcqueen to recall specifically what the archival footage is showing. This means that it creates the feeling of a nostalgia between the interviewee and remembering Mcqueen, which the audience can really feel when watching the documentary. The film-makers where able to interview not just his close colleagues, friends, and family, but people with completely different roles in within his life. This enables the audience to gain knowledge, not only what he was like as a person, but what he was like to work with. From models walking down the catwalk in his shows, to old employers, to his sister, nephew and boyfriends. This gives the audience a chance again to connect to Mcqueen directly through people different ways of knowing him.

The film-makers have been very clever in the way they present Mcqueen and his story. At the start of the documentary they present him as a golden boy, with fast paced shots and upbeat happy music by Michael Nyeman(Mcqueen’s favourite musician), but as the film progresses it shows the slow decline in mood through the music and shot duration to create a sense of melancholy. This use of combining different techniques to create not only the narrative but the mood of the film is something I want to add into my own documentary, when I come round to making it.

Overall the documentary is extremely successful in portraying a clear understanding of the life of Alexander Mcqueen. It does this by combining all techniques of documentary filmaking to establish a clear structure, narrative, genre, and style, to portray a sense of what it was like to live as Alexander Mcqueen. The documentary is completely engaging, and entertaining the whole way through by rising and lowering the mood of the film to always leave the audience in a state of anticipation.

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