A Future Reset

James Dao and Todd Heisler at the NYTimes created a 3-minute multimedia piece covering difficulties faced by a war vet who lost a limb in combat.

Some observations:

  • Dao & Heisler split their start: audio is strong out of the shoots with the narrator Cpl. Sebastian Gallegos telling us that he lived but someone else died. But the imagery starts slow with scenes of suburban America. I’m not sure why Dao & Heisler send these mixed messages.
  • Character: Dao & Heisler introduce us to Gallegos, a character with a physical disabilities who is struggling to adjust to his disfigurment. I see Gallego’s pain, but I guess I don’t know enough about him to get emotionally invested. Maybe that’s unrealistic in a 3 minute short, but I think the reporters could have given us a little more info about the main character. At apx. 1:00, Gallegos remarks that his war injury “has changed they way way I think; it cuts me off from conversations.” Wow, how ’bout some more on that? That clip hints at Gallego’s internal needs for human contact and acceptance – but I don’t hear more about it. Later, Gallego’s wife is shown in the background. How about a 10-sec soundbite from her, reflecting on her husband’s character or emotional state?
  • Structure: Gallegos struggles to adjust to his artificial arm, but it’s not clear is whether he has changed (positively or negatively) through the course of that struggle. Personally, I want to know about Gallegos’ transformation: what’s happened (past tense), not what’s happening (present tense). I’m not sure this story was ripe enough for documentation.
  • Information: Dao & Heisler show information about Gallego’s prosethetic arm, but I don’t have the sense that this visual information is necessary. It seems extra. Interesting, but disconnected from the narration.

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