There is something naturally peaceful about a garden. Regardless of where it is or what it holds, the colors and the diversity found within it leave one curious while also providing us with a step away from reality. In the case of David May’s Documentary, “A Place Like This,” the garden holds a similar symbolic meaning.
The music in the background parallels the serenity of the garden, as well as the B-roll footage of the plants and the wildlife. Much of the footage is accompanied by faded edges, so that the viewer is able to focus on one single aspect of the beautiful setting. Additionally, much of the footage of the garden is still shots, in which the camera is still and the only movement is caused by the wind.
This serenity opposes the intensity of the story which the focus, Alex Jenkins, describes and explains. In this way, it is almost as if the importance of his garden is heightened. Viewers can make the connection that this garden is his safe place, his get-away. It is a place that he feels everyone should experience at sometime in their life because the beauty is both astounding and life-giving.
As Alex talks, the videographer shoots from a distance that makes the viewer feel as though they are sitting next to Alex in his garden. Once more, the edges of the picture are faded, creating a circular focus around Alex and drawing the audience into his facial features. From my point of view, it is the hope in his eyes that draws you in the most. He is so genuine and talks with such reverence for his lost brothers.
I think in order for this reverent speaking to be authentic, the B-roll footage calms the viewer down, making them listen intently to the story that is being told. From the talk of the colors on the tree to the display of the broken spider web while Alex discusses the plane crashing, there is a sad, but rich beauty in both his story-telling and the setting. Personally, I think it is beautiful because of how much he loves where he is now, just as much as he will always love those whom he served with. This being said, it is to me, above all, so inspiring to see that hope in his eyes and I am so pleased that the angles of the camera make these features so clear.
Everyone deserves a place like Alex’s garden, and everyone should be reverent, genuine, and hopeful, like him.