Visual- abcdefg577


The video opens with a closeup of two photographs. One is of a smiling young boy dressed in nice clothes, appearing to be a professionally done picture that parents often have taken of their children. The other picture has a glare on it and is more difficult to make out, but it looks to be of a young boy in another professionally done portrait, possibly a school or sports picture. It is not certain, but perhaps the two pictures are of the same young man.


The camera pans slowly to the left, revealing two additional photographs. One is of a couple on their wedding day, a black and white shot of a bride and groom dressed in their wedding attire, hands interlocked. They are mid dance. Below them is a picture of a young boy, assumingly the boy who is in the other pictures. So far, we have been shown pictures of what seems to be a family of three: a wife, husband, and their young child.


The camera, once again, pans slowly to the left. A dark silhouette of a person appears on a black and white staircase. The person’s gender and appearance is unclear.


The shadow is moving. Something is visible at the top of the staircase, blocked by the railings. Its colors are white, blue, and yellow.


As the camera moves up and over the railing, a little boy is revealed to be the thing that was blocked in the last frame. He is sitting on the landing of the stairs, holding a yellow toy truck. He wears pajamas. He is peering between the railings, down at something. This looks to be the boy who was in the photographs from the beginning of the video. He may be looking down at the person whose shadow was cast on the wall at 0:05.


The angle of the camera has switched to behind the boy now. We see him peering down at something, and we see the shadowy outline of a person’s head between the shadows of the railings on the wall to the right of the boy. Could this be one of his parents? We are now in a similar viewing position as the boy: we are voyeurs at the top of the steps, looking down. While he sees the actual person through the railings, we are only shown the shadows of what he sees.


The angle switches once again. Now, we are below the boy, looking up into his face. Half of his face is cast in a shadow. The boy seems to be hiding in the shadows, stealthily viewing from above what is going on down below. The boy does not look particularly happy. He looks to be in discomfort. His eyes look glazed, and his mouth is in a frown. From this close and personal vantage point, we can make out what is on the boy’s white pajamas: hockey players in different positions, making a pattern. His innocently youthful, light colored pajamas contrast starkly with his dark, shadowy, and seemingly uncomfortable position.


He fidgets and moves his gaze from what he was originally looking at to his lap now, presumably at the toy truck he is holding. Evidently, he did not like the actions of the person he was watching.


The boy convulses in fright as a look of shock appears on his face. He quickly moves his eyes from down at his lap to the source of the action, which is back to between the railings. A loud noise is likely the culprit of the surprise the boy exhibits, since one tends to jump and look shocked when a startling sound is heard.


The boy looks back and forth below him, his eyes shifting from left to right. He scrunches up his face for a brief instant in obvious disapproval of whatever it is he is seeing.


The screen fades to black, and white words appear against the black background: “Children have to sit by and watch. What’s your excuse?”


Different words materialize: “There’s no excuse for domestic violence.” A phone number, 1-800-END ABUSE, is placed below.

The video’s message is that children suffer as they sit by and watch their parents argue, or as one parent afflicts abuse on the other. It is trying to encourage the end of spousal abuse by showing it through the sympathetic eyes of a child who must witness it.
Through the visuals alone, I did not find this ad to be too clear with its intent. I gathered that the boy was the same person as the child in the photographs, and that the married couple were probably his parents. Throughout the video, one shadow only can be seen. I inferred that this was of one of his parents. As he looked down from the stairs, I was confused as to what he was seeing. I knew he was looking at a person, but I didn’t realize two people were down there. The ad could have visually displayed the abuse through silhouettes. The husband’s shadow could have been shown raising his hand to strike his wife. This would have made a striking visual, and the purpose of the ad could be realized through sight alone, rather than solely through the sounds of the pleading woman.

This entry was posted in A02: Visual Rhetoric, abcdefg577. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Visual- abcdefg577

  1. abcdefg577 says:

    feedback was requested.

    Feedback provided.


  2. davidbdale says:

    Since I had never watched this video before, I watched and paused it to time my viewing with your commentary, abcdefg577. I enjoyed seeing your analysis as I was experiencing the spot.

    Now that I see your analysis follows, I like the approach. The timed notes are your impressions BEFORE having experienced the entire spot, followed by your reactions overall once you know the premise. I will read those reactions shortly, but first, some notes on the timed impressions.

    0:00. You neglect to mention that the photos are framed and arranged most likely on a table in the foyer or living room of a house. Maybe we don’t know all of that, but viewers do begin to draw such conclusions almost immediately. What were yours? Young boy or young man? Big difference; you say both.

    0:03. Most viewers would assume that the staircase is residential and that the photos were of the family that lives here. Maybe that seems too obvious to mention, but consider that your readers depend entirely on you for all information. Help us out.

    0:05. Yes a shadow falls on the balusters of the staircase. We’ve all seen enough movies of this scene to suspect an intruder. Didn’t you? That shadow, whoever casts it, is a troubling thing, yes? It suggests stealthy activity of someone who might want to be unseen? No? Suggest those suggestions. This creeping in the night cannot be a good thing.

    0:06. If there’s any danger here, is the colorful thing obscured by balusters at risk, or the shadowy figure?

    0:10. What can we conclude from the fact that the boy sits still and observes who casts the shadow? Are we ready to rule out an intruder? This is not Home Alone. The kid would run upstairs if he didn’t know who was downstairs.

    0:12. Does the sudden change of camera angle suggest for a microsecond that someone might be behind him? If not, why not? It would be such a common technique in a film. How do this film’s makers avoid having us draw that conclusion?

    0:13. Give us some indication of whether you believe the boy is experiencing a new scene or one he has seen many times. I like the pajama analysis. Is there more to say about them? They indicate he should be in bed? Or that he was in bed? What brought him to the stairs? They also make a character on screen more vulnerable, don’t they? Less likely to run into the street and find safety there?

    0:16. This is a complex moment. You’ve done the best you can with it. There must be a reason for this moment of relative calm and peace. Suggestions?

    0:19. Mention the noise earlier, I think. That flinch occurs first, before the fear.

    0:21. Does the shifting eyes suggest he’s looking from one person to another and back?

    0:24. Any reaction to this particular message delivered at this particular time? Who is its target? There were no witnesses to the scene beyond the participants. The pitch would be more understandable if the actions had been more public, but they were deliberately staged inside a family home. Who’s going to do other than stand by?

    Post-Video Commentary. I agree the visuals could have been made more communicative. I wonder if that’s a fair criticism of the spot, or whether we can allow the creators for counting on audio to carry some of the message. What’s your take on that? I like your idea of the raised hand.

    Did this feedback provide you enough prompts to help you improve the piece for your Rewrite? Reply, please.


    • abcdefg577 says:

      Thank you. You pointed out some good ways I could be clearer with my visual descriptions from scene to scene. I do think the audio is a major component of this video, and the creators can be excused for not making the visuals all too clear.


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