English Media Coursework
The 11th November, known as Armistice Day, is the anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty ending the First World War. Every year on the Sunday of the week of Armistice Day, Remembrance Sunday, there is a march by all the ex-servicemen and armed forces past the cenotaph to show their respect for the dead. They carry poppies because after the First World War all that was left over in the battlefield was Flanders poppies.


Many people are unable to attend the service and for this reason it is recorded on television by the BBC.It is not an easy task to cater for the range of audiences who will be watching the ceremony. Some audiences will have been involved in the principal wars being commemorated, whilst others may be too young to remember them and will be bored by a plain portrayal of the service.


The BBC must reach a balance of techniques to show what happens during the ceremony in an informative and interesting way. It must also include additional aspects to retain the attention of all types of audience, involving them in remembering and contemplating the dead.


The BBC achieves this in many different ways.


As the BBC begins to record the cenotaph ceremony, a voice over starts to talk, keeping the audience informed of the proceedings. This ensures that they can follow the events without getting confused and disorientated. Although the voice over is classified as non-diegetic sound, it is solemn and seems to be absorbed into the general atmosphere of pathos that the BBC is attempting to convey rather than acting as a superfluous and annoying commentary, which is generally the case.


The camera draws back to give a panoramic view of the cenotaph against a background of arched trees. The cenotaph stands non graceful and abrupt in its surroundings, a testimony of the dead. The trees on the other hand represent life and continuity. This contrast of symbolism gives a poignant impression to the audience. It seems to say that although so many have died, life goes on, as a result of their heroic action.


Then the camera tilts and a high angled long shot appears on the screen. We see hundreds of members of the armed forces standing silently and neatly in rows. This long shot serves to create an image of a serious ceremony. The neat and silent rows inspire awe into us, as the sheer amount of people just standing noiselessly is unnatural, reminding us of the solemnity of the occasion.


The camera zooms into a BCU of a soldier wearing a bearskin hat and regimental costume. The close up seems to exaggerate the gravity of the expression on the soldier’s face, imparting a sober atmosphere. This affects our frame of mind and we become more in tune with the mood of the ceremony.


The broadcast of the ceremony is cut and the scene of an ex serviceman recounting his war stories fades in. Every few moments the scene of the veteran of war is wiped and a flashback illustrating his memories appears. Soldiers running from planes…soldiers escaping fire…soldiers shooting at the Germans. All the while, the voice of the veteran is heard as a voice over in the background. The mood is both sombre and dramatic. These flashbacks interspersed between the serious proceedings of the ceremony add action to the broadcast as well as invoking pathos from the audience.


The way in which the flashbacks dissolve is poignant and stirs our emotions. In one incident the soldiers appear to be tiny helpless fighters running over the notes on a sheet of music. The music is played to us at the same time and is a powerful yet mournful piece. We are told that it was written by a soldier during the First World War before he died in the trenches.


This combination of feelings of helplessness and sadness keeps us in the mood for the two minutes of silence. We have prepared to remember and know why we are remembering.


After the silence the poppy laying begins.


Whilst the queen and members of the royal family lay their wreaths, the camera closes in on them capturing their sober expression. Then the camera moves to the actual wreaths of poppies lying alone against the cenotaph and