Pawel Pawlikowski

Reality is always higher than art. That is the very essence of a documentary. When I finished watching the documentary ‘The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst’, I couldn’t resist appreciating the wonderful narrative perspectives and the inherently amazing plots. The clues are peeled layer by layer with the rhythm just right in place.

As the polish director Pawel Pawlikowski said, ‘One of the reasons I made documentaries rather than fiction films was because they give you more freedom and fun. (Macdonald, K & Cousins, M., 1996)’ Definitely it is the Bible of every documentary director who are really keen to distil a story, not just a form of art, but also the process and the spirit they want to deliver to the mass. Nevertheless, what we still remember after the films except the dazzling visual effects and the same pattern of line plots.


Back to the film ‘The Jinx’, so gorgeous works. It records the history, becomes the history, and finally changes the history. The clips and music are so fantastic and the bizarre shock and awful turning are more than imagined. Plus those controversial and charm people who are interviewed without any visual effects, my adrenaline hurricanes so intensely. Whenever I see those little white durst eyes, staring like two black holes, I am full of the feeling of being swallowed. Little white durst eyes and black holes is an analogy. In film, analogy is essential and vital. Analogy lies behind basic tasks such as the identification of places, objects and people. Analogy and abstraction are different cognitive processes, and analogy is often an easier one. This analogy is not comparing all the properties between a hand and a foot, but rather comparing the relationship between a hand and its palm to a foot and its sole(Michael A. Martin).


Why is this documentary so fascinating? I agree with what Pawel Pawlikowski said:’the most successful documentaries nowadays seem to be those made by people with a lot of time on their hands and stall their subjects for five or ten years.’Jinx is also a film which takes many years to make. Compare to other documentaries, it avoids a lot of arguments and plots which we have heard many times. Instead, it directly interviewed some of the key characters, such as catching off guard Bobby’s brother at the banquet greeting, which is never showed in previous interviews. The rhythm is perfect and six sets are totally not redundant cumbersome. In the documentary, the rhythm is significant. Rhythm generally means a ‘movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions'(Anon. 1971). Its narrative looks like Agatha Christie’s ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, full of suspense. This documentary breaks through HBO’s usually consistent modern series style and it especially reflects an artistic sense of rhythm.

The glamour of film or documentary lies in analogy and rhythm. When we use these elements in the film or documentary, the charm will appear in different aspects of film to audience.


Macdonald, K & Cousins, M. Imagining reality, (p. 389-392). London: Faber & Faber, 1996.

Michael A. Martin, The Use of Analogies and Heuristics in Teaching Introductory Statistical Methods

 Anon. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary II. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1971.

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