English 1130: Academic Writing

Lord of War

Setting 1 - Setting 2 - Setting 3 - Scratch Outline - Full Outline

Below you'll find a clip of the opening credits of Lord of War (Niccol, 2005), followed by a sequential analysis that mirrors the order one usually follows when starting a rhetorical analysis. This sequence goes from observation of detail to the point of this detail, to possible uses of rhetoric, to a succinct articulation — in a topic sentence — of how rhetoric is used to make the point. 

Below the sequence you'll find a skeletal (or scratch) outline, which contains a thesis statement and topic sentences, as well as a full outline, which contains a thesis statement, topic sentences, and point form lists of the details and arguments supporting the topic sentences.

Setting 1 (War-torn Street)

Details — ground scattered with bullets  — dealer (Orlov) amid destruction — link to later factory production of bullets and to use of bullets in street battle — speech full of high numbers of guns — expectation that this is horrible — wryly humorous reversal: he says the numbers should be higher! — Conclusion: dealer is ruthless

Point:  Amid violence, the arms merchant doesn’t think about the harm guns create, just about how to sell more guns and make more money.

Rhetoric 1) sustained contrast between his sharp business appearance and the destruction around him 2) surprising, abrupt contrast (reversal of expectation) between A) the calm, reasonable tone of his opening words, and B) his ruthless, unreasonable conclusion. The incongruity (a basic component of most humour) provokes a wry laugh, which is almost immediately cut short by the serious music and by the scenario in the second and third parts of the sequence 3) beginning of cycle or sequence: (destruction to bullets to battle)

Topic sentence # 1:  Niccol’s use of puzzling contrast and wry humour draw us into the first part of his arms cycle, which is economic motivation, regardless of the cost in destruction.

Setting 2 (Bullet Factory) 

Details -- link to Orlov and bullets on ground; Orlov works in parallel with factory — visual depiction: the travels of a bullet — allows credits to roll — creates subtle parallel between bullets and missiles (upward camera angle) — red star and Cyrillic script remind audience of Cold War and proxy wars — suggests secrecy: lifting crate lid creates momentary light and ability to inspect, followed by darkness — links Odessa, Ukraine, to Orlov’s Little Odessa, USA — music: “For What It’s Worth” (Buffalo Springfield, 1967), links to protest

Point:  The production of arms is part of the Cold War, which pits the USSR against a USA in which musicians protest against ‘the war machine.’

Rhetoric - Parallel between heartless arms dealer and hard business of production and distribution? — The proliferation of arms during the time period of the Cold War.   — The music and lyrics suggest a parallel between the 1960s and the 1980s.  Music: cues audience emotionally and historically to protest, especially against the Vietnam War - Spatial journey 1) gives us the unconventional spatial perspective of a bullet (thus encouraging us to look again at arms proliferation?) 2) middle of sequence: (destruction to bullets to battle)

Topic sentence # 2: Shifting from contrast to parallelism, Niccol uses time and space (historically-driven musical cues and the unconventional journey of a bullet) to urge us to question the second part of the arms cycle — production and distribution. 

Setting 3 (Journey from Factory to Street Battle) 

Details  -- link to opening scene (ground scattered with bullets); here, a more detailed journey into a war zone where the ground is scattered with bullets — visuals emphasize -- link to original setting: both use warm yellow tones, and both could possibly be set somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa (plagued by colonial abuse and by recent deadly wars) — chaos of journey and war zone — shift from mechanical production to human fingers lifting bullets and putting them in rifles — at first, target unknown, yet bullet slows down so we see the human face, eyes, (and innocence?) of the child about to die

Point:  Bullets from dealers and factories get used in armed conflicts and kill children.

Rhetoric - Spatial journey and cycle continued and concluded: 1) end of sequence: (destruction to bullets to battle in which victims can include children) 2) Sequence constitutes a cycle. Bullets promoted by arms dealers and made in factories end up in guns which fuel deadly conflict, which in turn is good for business. We can assume that Orlov will be placing more orders at bullet factories…  Yet, unlike at the beginning of the sequence, there is no way the reader can laugh — however wryly — at the business Orlov is in: the final visual is too clear and horrible, and the focus is still too clearly on the bullet.

Topic sentence # 3:  Niccol continues and concludes the journey of the bullet so as to underscore a pathos-laden image that no one can even wryly laugh about: a bullet entering a child’s forehead.  

Thesis statement:  Niccol indicts the arms cycle by taking his viewers on a journey, first amusing us with humorous contrast, then challenging us with parallel historically-charged music and the novel spatial trajectory of a bullet, and finally shocking us with a graphic image.  

Title:                                          Target Audience

 

Scratch Outline

Target Audience

Niccol indicts the arms cycle by taking his viewers on a journey, first amusing us with humorous contrast, then challenging us with historically-charged music and the novel spatial trajectory of a bullet, and finally shocking us with a graphic image.  

Niccol’s use of puzzling contrast and wry humour draw us into the first part of his arms cycle, which is economic motivation, regardless of the cost in destruction.

Shifting from contrast to parallelism, Niccol uses time and space (historically-driven musical cues and the unconventional journey of a bullet) to urge us to question the second part of the arms cycle — production and distribution. 

Niccol continues and concludes the journey of the bullet so as to underscore a pathos-laden image that no one can even wryly laugh about: a bullet entering a child’s forehead.

(133 words) 

Full Outline

Target Audience 

Niccol indicts the arms cycle by taking his viewers on a journey, first amusing us with humorous contrast, then challenging us with historically-charged music and the novel spatial trajectory of a bullet, and finally shocking us with a graphic image.  

Niccol’s use of puzzling contrast and wry humour draw us into the first part of his arms cycle, which is economic motivation, regardless of the cost in destruction.

—  sustained contrast: business appearance vs. destruction

—  surprising contrast (reversal): calm opening words vs. ruthless, unreasonable conclusion.

—  provokes wry humour—cut short by music and what follows  

—  beginning of cycle: destruction to bullets to battle

Shifting from contrast to parallelism, Niccol uses time and space (historically-driven musical cues and the unconventional journey of a bullet) to urge us to question the second part of the arms cycle — production and distribution. 

—  Cold War 60s anti-war protest lyrics: emotional, historical cues

—  unconventional spatial perspective of bullet

—  middle of sequence: (destruction to bullets to battle)

Niccol continues and concludes the journey of the bullet so as to underscore a pathos-laden image that no one can even wryly laugh about: a bullet entering a child’s forehead. 

—  end of sequence: (destruction to bullets to battle)

—  constitutes a cycle: dealer to production (factory) to use in battle to more bullets

—  this time, no wry humour: serious final image of bullet into head

(233 words)

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