Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Pentagon Mise-en-Scene: Daniel McAdams

If you're looking for a textbook example of mise-en-scene, look no further. This 28-second news video clip telecast by the District of Columbia CBS affiliate, New9 on September 11, 2001. is the beau ideal of that misused term.

(I warn you, this blog is not about Daniel McAdams. He recites a 28-second-long word scheme specifically commissioned for the choreography, but that's it.)

All the video shot that day carries the personal creative vision of a single auteur--I call it Pugh source material, after the free-lance videographer who got there first--so, other than some talking heads in front of smoky backdrops, all video was governmentally sourced.

As conceived, the camera pans across parked ambulances, stopping at a gap, immediately it closes in on a group of maybe a dozen responders surrounding a single wounded casualty. For all the scores of shots of empty litter-bearer teams we see, which is a vast component of the medical-response images, it is disheartening to finally see a man in a respirator, but standing there, being held aloft by a blond giant, neither of whom has signs of any soot or sweat about them. Everyone else is to-ing and fro-ing, hither and yon in senseless blocking, Ramos keeps looking over her shoulder like she's shoplifting, while the rest of the inner circle could pass as a clump of codependents picking lint off one another at an Al anon meeting. At exactly second 26, the casualty is dipped. Fade to black.

This narrative-rich video mixes in the lineup of the local CBS station, News Channel 9, like Bill Clinton at Coretta Scott King's funeral, except more fictionalized at the Pentagon. WWASD*

Pentagon eyewitness: Daniel McAdams

Andrea: We have Daniel McAdams on the phone, he is an eyewitness, Daniel what did you see and where are you?

Daniel: I'm here in Arlington just off Columbia Pike probably about two, two-and-a-=half miles from the Pentagon, and we were sitting in our living room having coffee ah, and it sounded like a military jet fly over that they do sometimes, you know very very low altitude flyover and then just a couple of seconds later we heard a massive boom! All of our doors and windows shook. We went outside and then looked out the window and saw a plume of smoke.

Andrea: Alright Daniel, thank you very much.

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