Documentaries are films that include factual material. These films are made to achieve a number of goals, including recording events and ideas, educating and persuading viewers, expressing opinions and creating public interest. Documentaries are able to accomplish these aims by using a variety persuasive techniques. Music and foley are examples, as is irony and repetition. Live and archived footage can also be used. The Cove is one of the documentaries we will discuss in this paper. The other documentary that we will cover is Bowling for Columbine. The Cove, by Louie Psihoyos is a documentaire that examines dolphin enslavement, slaughter, and abuse in Taiji Japan. Bowling for Columbine explores gun-violence in the US as well as the circumstances leading up to the Columbine High School murder. The Cove & Bowling for Columbine both use persuasive techniques such as emotional appeals, archival and live footage, irony, etc. Michael Moore’s and Louie Psihoyos’ documentaries use these persuasive techniques to communicate their message.
Both The Cove & Bowling for Columbine employ emotional appeals to persuade their audiences. Emotional persuasion is a way to influence an audience by inducing emotion. This technique manipulates feelings by focusing on emotional factors rather than logical and practical ones. As an example, in Bowling for Columbine the victims from the Columbine high school massacre were shown to be in tears and distress shortly after their shooting. In tears, the students explained that they were forced into begging for their life while being shot at by other students. This scene makes the audience feel the same distress and emotions as the victims. It also makes them want to do something for the victims. Ric o’Barry’s story about Flipper and her inability to cope with life is an example of how this device works. This story makes you feel for Flipper and all dolphins in similar situations. You also realize how intelligent she was to have done such a thing. Both documentaries use emotional scenes to convince viewers of Michael Moore and Louie Psihoyos. This is because the viewer’s intelligence is low, and they can’t understand why the situation has occurred. They are then quick to react with anger. The Cove or Bowling for Columbine are both successful in using emotion to get their audience to agree.
Both The Cove as well as Bowling for Columbine use live and archived footage to convince the audience. Live and archival clips are audio or film footage such as a newsreel or CCTV that is taken during the event. CCTV footage of the shooting that took place in the lunch room of the school is an example. It shows Columbine’s students hiding underneath the tables of the school lunch hall, while the two antagonists walked around casually with guns. We can also hear 911 call recordings from students and teachers at the school from that fateful morning. The Cove shows hidden camera footage of fishermen killing dolphins. Here we can see the brutality of the dolphin slaughter and treatment. We see water turning red as dolphins struggle above the surface before becoming motionless. This technique allows the audience to gain a better understanding of the subject. These scenes, as well as evoking emotion, have an impact on the viewers’ mental state and general thought about the topic. The Cove as well as Bowling for Columbine use archival and live footage to convince the viewers to agree with their argument.
Irony is employed to convince audiences in The Cove as well as Bowling for Columbine. Irony occurs when one expresses their meaning using a language that usually means the opposite. As an example, in Bowling for Columbine a selection of clips is shown expressing conflict and violence while Louis Armstrong’s ‘Wonderful World’ is played. The words “what’s a wonderful word” are not correlated with the images of suffering or death. Bowling for Columbine shows us the sign for Columbine High School that says “Home of the Rebels”, and has a picture of the soldier holding a weapon. In The Cove, the Taiji dolphin enslavement is described as a Japanese tradition. However, most Japanese people are unaware of it. The Cove also shows the many models of dolphins or whales that are displayed in Taiji. There is even a sign that says “We Love Dolphins”. Irony makes the audience uncomfortable. This means they will be more sensitive to the situation. Irony can be used to get the audience to agree to the argument. This technique works in The Cove as well as Bowling for Columbine.
Documentaries use persuasive techniques to influence an audience. The Cove uses techniques that are both successful and impactful on the audience. These techniques include emotional appeals and live or archived footage. Documentary filmmakers Louie Psihoyos and Michael Moore use persuasive techniques to persuade the audience to accept their arguments.