Mark v Teddy

The use of camera feeds in The Martian is something we discussed in class as being a very unique aspect of the film. Occasionally the filming will switch from the regular perspective to a camera feed, either in the HAB or the rover or an EVA suit. This alternating provides new perspectives for viewers and the feed data can give viewers information without it being explicitly stated. For example,each camera displays the name of room that it is monitoring. And, the overhead views of the HAB cameras, as opposed to the face-on view of Mark’s vlogs, provide a more detached perspective of events. They show time passing as Mark makes furrows for his potatoes and the dirt is moisturized – letting the viewer what is happening without dedicating too many precious seconds to watching our hero dig in the dirt. And, theoretically, whenever an event is viewed through a camera feed, it is recorded for future astronauts to watch. The camera feeds in the HAB are also useful when the computer log isn’t easily available but a comment from Mark would be useful or interesting, as when he looks up into the camera in the kitchen and says, “staple came out” while holding up a bloody hand.

However, the vlog is probably the most interesting use of nontraditional camera filming. Part of Mark’s appeal to audiences, regardless of the medium used to convey the story, is his informal and humorous attitude. Ong says that “listening to spoken words forms hearers into a group, a true audience”. In the book, even though Mark’s logs are written down, they read as though he’s having a conversation with someone. In the film, Mark is placed directly in front of the camera to record his vlogs, enhancing the feeling of a conversation. The spontaneity, part of primary orality, is part of what appeals to us about his narration. Mark’s primary orality contrasts with the secondary orality of the speeches given by NASA Director Teddy Sanders (not necessarily a bad guy, but also not the most likable character in the film). Perhaps because Teddy is talking to the entire world when he is recorded (Ong mentions McLuhan’s “global village” in his article), the content of his oral communications are much more calculated and formal than Mark’s. As Ong says, “Primary orality promotes spontaneity because the analytic reflectiveness implemented by writing is unavailable, secondary orality promotes spontaneity because through analytic reflection we have decided that spontaneity is a good thing.” Almost everything that Teddy says is carefully written out, while Mark has a much looser, more informal style – and that definitely affects our perception of the characters. 

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