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Music and Murder

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Essay title: Music and Murder

Documentaries serve to draw a response through the use of literary techniques in order to present a particular point of view. Michael Cordell’s Music and Murder subscribes to this principle, the documentary focuses on three men serving prison sentences for taking a life and how music has changed and shaped their outlook on their own lives. Music, structure, verbal language and selection of detail all work on the viewers emotions which serve to draw a positive response towards rehabilitation in prisons.

Music and Murder follows Vernon Kronk who killed an infant because it wet the bed, Geoffrey Websdale who shot dead two people and injured one and Daniel Miles who stabbed his girlfriend. All three prisoners are serving sentences in prison for their crimes and all three with the help of the prison teachers have found an interest in music.

Music and Murder as a title for this documentary is very peculiar in that it hints that the two themes go together, many would see such a title as a paradox and that if rehabilitation was the only issue Music after Murder would be a more suitable title, however the emotional maturing through music is important in the documentary. Music recorded by the prisoners is played throughout the documentary, this attempts to give the viewer insight into the emotions felt by the musicians. The music is described by one of the prisons music teachers as “coming from the heart”, because we have not discovered the crimes that the prisoners have committed the music attempts to draw on feelings of sympathy from the viewer for the men. Much of the documentary is left to periods of the men’s music; these periods are an expression of emotion by which the notion of humanity and a second chance is put forward.

The structure, the order parts of the documentary are presented determine how prisoners are constructed by the viewer. In Music and Murder Vernon, Geoffrey and Daniel are all constructed in the same way and overall the documentary works to construct the prisoners as people deserving of the viewers trust. In the beginning of the documentary the prison is described and shown as concrete and metal and there are close-ups of the metal bars, locks and razor-wire. This use of montage re-establishes the viewers previous idea of prison as punishment. After this the music is introduced by the respected teachers as not leisure but a constructive way to use their time in prison, having the punishment aspect of prison introduced before the music gives the viewer a positive on the idea as music as rehabilitation and not just as leisure. The construction of the prisoners life previous to their crimes is done through re-enactments and emotional recounts from the prisoners, this is used to shift the blame and create a sympathetic feel for them. After we discover the hardships undergone by these people their crimes are revealed and although horrible, the viewers feelings towards the prisoner change very little. Through the structure the viewers emotions towards the prisoners are manipulated and the prisoners are presented as only human, the crimes weren’t their fault.

Verbal language

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