Case Study Film Review: ‘Unthinkable’ (305mc)

Critical Analysis on the film ‘Unthinkable’ following Power, Spectacle and Memory:

The film Unthinkable (D. Gregor Jordan, 2010) focuses on an interrogation of a supposed terrorist who threatens to set off a number of bombs in different US cities. Relating to my question going forward on how ISIS have used the media to influence their power and pose a global threat, this film actually links quite well. The main basis of the film revolves around a video posing a threat to US people but there is not 100% proof that the bombs are even real. The detectives have to interrogate this person based on the grounds that he ‘may’ have these bombs. It’s a simple video of a man in a room that has the government scared, for a time he is in control. They may go to extreme lengths to get information from this man but there is still a possibility that there are no bombs at all.

The media has been used to pose a threat; a simple video has been sent that could be truthful. This man has coordinated his attack and by not revealing certain information, he has the upper hand. There have been films in the past that handle this power struggle through interrogation, many of us have an understanding of the judicial system and these methods through criminal dramas and such. They present the two sides and how either can be influenced by information, by knowledge of the crime. Whoever has the knowledge, has the power. We can have certain prosthetic memories and understanding of certain real life criminal cases and interrogations through the fictitious visual reconstructions. Through Postmodernism, the first materials we are presented with are out initial representations of the given subject. This is what we see; this is what we think to be correct.

The interrogation scene is always set up in the same way, the ‘criminal’ is the lesser being, often tied up or isolated as people stare directly at him. It is about making the person crack and giving up the information that they may or may not have. It can be a game of chance. The American Muslim man who is being interrogated presents his threat in such a way that it can be considered a spectacle of sorts. His video is quite dramatic, very imposing. The fact he decided to record himself speaking shows his status, how he sees himself. Proud of his dominance in this instance. He knows that as he records this video, as he speaks his words, as he edits the content he knows where it will be going, he knows the implications of his actions.

Relating to my chosen topic for my essay question, ISIS has created a threat that is bigger than just themselves. There have been numerous terrorist attacks that have been perpetrated by individuals who were not officially members of ISIS but committed the act in their name. People instantly relate the act to the group as do ISIS, who seeks to claim responsibility.

Exploring this film even briefly has given me more of an idea for a case study that I could directly use as a contemporary example of postmodernism and how prosthetic memories have altered how we see certain practises. ‘Unthinkable works on many levels showing Power influences and how it can be considered a Spectacle. Potentially, this could be referenced in my own essay as it acts as a media form that exists in the same field but also has essential uses of both Power, Memory and Spectacle.

Unthinkable. (2010) Film. Directed by Gregor Jordan. [DVD] Sony Pictures Home Entertainment: US


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