A mockumentary also known as a “mock documentary” is a parody of the often earnest nature of the documentary film genre as stated by WiseGeek (What is a mockumentary?). The film “Bloody Sunday” directed by Paul Greengrass and produced by Mark Redhead attempts to describe to the viewers a real life setting of the attacks in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1972. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association had planned a peaceful, yet illegal, march against the British government on January 30th 1972 which was stopped by British paratroopers after they fired on the demonstrators and killed 13 people as well as injured 14.  It is still unclear which party fired the first shot. The British army however claimed that it fired only after being fired upon, while the Roman Catholic community asserted that military snipers opened fire on unarmed protesters (Bloody Sunday). Bloody Sunday is a theatrical attempt at describing this controversial march, how did the Greengrass and Redhead give viewers a real life portrayal of the incident and were they successful at doing so without any bias involved?

           Greengrass and Redhead used a variety of techniques to make the audience feel as though they were marching with the protestors and add a dramatic effect to the mockumentary. The transitions between scenes were very choppy and blotchy. This is described as one of the simplest transitions between shots and is called a straight cut, which is an abrupt transition between two shots (Traditional Film). The abruptness of the transition added a more suspenseful emotion when viewing the film. Another transition type used was the fade to black technique that was seen often throughout the film. This technique also adds to the realistic effect of the movie because, I believe, it gives the illusion that it was simply raw news which was unable to be edited. During the shooting scenes, I truly felt frightened and as though I was present during the attacks. One way the producers did instilled this fear in me was by not playing any music and keeping the sound of the gunshots loud and vivid as though we were standing immediately next to the British Paratroopers as they were pulling the triggers (Cernekova). The mothers, brothers, sisters, and fathers screaming and crying out of utter shock because of the loss of their loved ones was another technique that the producer focused on to attempt to instill a strong sense of emotion and connection with the tragedy at hand. The producer zoomed in on the civilian’s reactions to the killings in an attempt to bring out their personal experiences and hurt felt on Bloody Sunday. Greengrass also let us in on the marchers personal lives and their love stories as well as portraying to us what an average peaceful Sunday in the town of Derry was like prior to the attacks. This gave a more personal feel to the film however, I felt as though it made Bloody Sunday seemed more staged and dramatized and less of a documentary. It is fair to say I believe that Greengrass and Redhead demonstrated the killings to their audience through a variety of play on emotion in an attempt to make the killings seemed more realistic.

                Bloody Sunday describes the event through the eyes of the head organizer of the march, Ivan Cooper, a “Protestant Stormont Member of Parliament.” This being said, the march was shown primarily through the perspective of the demonstrators. The producer and director portrayed the perspective of the British Paratroopers however the main focus was on how they were going to attack the people of Northern Ireland. The filmmaker attempted to make the film seem fair by giving the reasoning behind the shootings. It is still unclear however till this day who was the first to shoot though the film made it clear that the British were the ones to instigate the killings. The filmmaker portrayed a certain slant to the film towards the end where they made it seem as though the army had staged the attacks and placed ammunition in the hands of an Irish civilian that was dying. After the shootings stopped, the movie showed the British claiming death rates less than half of what the people of Derry claimed. I thought this was interesting demonstration about how immediately after the killings; an entire scene was dedicated to how both parties reported to the news. The British were even shown frustrated about the snapshot taken of the old man lying on the floor, covered with the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association’s banner which was drenched in blood. The filmmakers also instilled in the audience a sense of innocence in the protestors through portraying real life stories and making the British seem like the “bad guys”.

             After communicating to my pen pal about the tragedy that had occurred in Northern Ireland around thirty years ago, his reaction was very similar to that of Barnett’s description of the British media in “Terrorism and the Press: An uneasy relationship.” Barnett described the basis of the British media’s “calm” reaction to 9/11 being due to their “cultural attitude of stoicism” and stated that it was a repeated them throughout their media coverage (Barnett p.132). This cultural attitude was illustrated through a clip of an elderly man on the street being interviewed by a reporter. The old man’s reaction to the 9/11 incident was “Well, we’ve been here before haven’t we? (Barnett p.133)” This was a similar attitude of that of Winston Smith*, my pen pal from Lebanon. When I asked Mr. Smith what he thought of the tragedy in Derry, due to his violent surrounding during his upbringing, his reaction was also rather neutral. “The killings in Derry are something we grew up around on a daily basis, I think it’s funny how the news blows it up like it’s a big deal because it was out of the ordinary but when there are thousands being killed every day it just becomes boring and nothing interesting to report on and so the public would feel more sorrow for the 13 people in Derry when that same day thousands could have been killed in the Middle East and its treated like any other day.” Mr. Smith went on saying how he had to research the incident after I asked him how he felt because he had never even heard of the attacks prior to my mention.

               I left class feeling very sorrowful after watching Bloody Sunday. I felt a strong sense of connection to the actors and as though I was behind one of the walls watching the tragedy as it occurred. The filming techniques used by the Greengrass and Redhead, as well as the story line were the elements that instilled this sense of realism in me open watching the film. I also left the movie feeling as though that one gory Sunday, injustice struck the town of Derry. Having no background of the history event prior to the film, I left the movie feeling a sense of anger towards the British army. Though the filmmakers may have attempted to equally portray the happenings of January 30th, 1972, there existed a definite slant in the film towards the side of the Irish people.  It is shown however through the British media’s reaction to certain events and through the personal testimony of my pen pal that though the press may attempt to display an incident having occurred a certain way, a tragedy to one may be routine to the next.

                                                WORKS CITED

Barnett, Brooke. Terrorism and the Press: An Uneasy Relationship. New York: P. Lang, 2009. Print.

“Bloody Sunday.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 18 Feb. 2010 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/726532/Bloody-Sunday>.

Cernekova, Zuzana, and Ioannis Pitas. “Information Theory-Based Shot Cut/Fade Detection and Video Summarization.” Citeseer (2006). Print.

“Traditional Film Camera Techniques.” ACM SIGGRAPH  15 Feb. 2010. <http://www.siggraph.org/education/materials/HyperGraph/animation/cameras

“What is a Mockumentary?” WiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions. Web. 18 Feb. 2010. <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-mockumentary.htm>.