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The Full Catastrophe Essay, Research Paper
Tracey Leonard s Autobiography, The Full Catastrophe was chosen for this documentary, as it is a truly uplifting story. It is centred around her years as a nurse, working in missionaries throughout India and Northern Australia. Sadly her life is altered profoundly when she is involved in a severe accident, one which leaves her as a quadriplegic. I believe that her story should be shared with all, to enlighten people on such a strong and determined person s life.
The first segment opens with an aerial shot of Tracey Leonard arriving on the streets of Calcutta. She is exiting through the airport doors and already the constant and rapid movement of the city is evident. Live sound of the masses of people and vehicles, which is present the entirety of the segment is accentuated at the point of her exit. This is her first experience in a foreign country and there is dramatic and in some cases drastic changes from what she is used to. A voice-over of her initial thoughts can be heard, Once outside the terminal, the heat and humidity wraps around me like an overcoat. Nothing could have prepared me for this first sight. The camera then zooms in for a medium shot, showing her amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. The scene of swarms of locals and their obscure vehicles rushing about, leaves Tracey Leonard dumbfounded. Such a feeling is reflected in the expression presented on her face. This shot fades out and fades into a long shot of her working in Kalighat, the main missionary in Calcutta. Time has passed since her arrival and she has now settled into her routine. This building is basic and teeming with human suffering. Concluding this segment is a close up of Tracey Leonard and her patient, revealing how severely ill he is. This is what she has to deal with every day, and she takes it in her stride.
The second segment opens with a long shot of a single engine plane landing on a dirt runway in the Northern Territory. This is a great contrast with the previous setting of a densely populated city. Red soil, vegetation and unoccupied land were things rarely sighted in India, yet this was what Port Keats consisted of. The camera zooms in to an extreme close-up of Tracey Leonard on the stairs of the plane. Again, her look of dismay is highlighted, but this time at the lack of urbanisation. In addition there is a voice-over emphasizing her original beliefs and this time regrets, Maybe this wasn t such good idea after all, maybe my friends were right am I mad? Live sound of the plane, birds and the hum of the bush can be heard during the first two shots. Next, there is a cutaway, which contains an artistic link. It begins at the red soil, which Tracey Leonard is gazing at while stepping from the plane, and cuts away to the same type of soil in the infant clinic. This is where she is to work during her time in the aboriginal settlement. The child she is treating has dropped his toy, and she has bent over to retrieve it. This is a close panning shot from the soil to the toy. This shows that even though the Autobiographer is working in a medical clinic, not all modern conveniences are applicable. There are now sound effects of sobbing children in the waiting room for this frame. To close the segment, a tilt-up shot reveals the identification of the character
as Tracey Leonard and, that she is attending to a young aboriginal. Her patients, in comparison are now in much healthier conditions.
The final segment opens with a montage of shots involving her car accident. The first is a medium shot of Tracey Leonard hastily driving along a desolate dirt road. She is cheerfully singing along to a song on the radio. The next is a close-up shot of her, as she is failing to control the skidding car. Her face displays a look of terror, one that the viewers should find hard to forget. There are also sound effects of tyres skidding on the dirt and Tracey Leonard s shrill scream rings through. Following this, is a long shot of the up-turned vehicle and no movement from within. For these three shots the steady sound of the car radio is heard, even after the accident. The final shot included in the montage is a medium shot of Tracey Leonard on a stretcher, inside a plane. It shows the many machines she is hooked up to and the doctor and nurse aiding her. The sound track consists only of the noise of the engines, and the constant beeping of the machines. The camera then zooms in for a close-up shot of the medical attendants, when they exchange a sombre glance and a slight shake of the head. This highlights the seriousness of her state, but the viewers are left in suspense as to the extent of her injuries. The last shot dissolves into the next, which is a long shot of a doctor and woman talking in a waiting room. The conversation cannot be heard, only sounds of the hospital are audible. The woman suddenly breaks down and the doctor consoles her. This shot fades out, and the succeeding frame is a medium shot of the same woman sitting next to Tracey Leonard s bed. Their conversation can be heard, Don t worry darling, it will be all right.
Mum, I m a quadriplegic, nothing can be done. But I ve accepted that and am going to move on.
The viewers are finally informed on the identity of this woman and to the extent of Tracey Leonard s injuries. This is the concluding shot to the final segment and the entire documentary.
The Full Catastrophe is an inspirational story of journeys and tragedy. Tracey Leonard was struck down by misfortune, yet her spirits remained intact. People should be informed of her achievements and learn from her attitude to life. My concepts would work well in portraying her story and bringing to life her undying spirits. The documentary was kept as objective as possible, without straying and giving a one sided view. The audience was positioned into believing Tracey Leonard led a rewarding, adventurous life, which, in a split second was tragically and permanently altered.
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