I have never really watched Westworld but I don’t think this is a huge hindrance to watching and appreciating the work that Evan Puschak (Nerdwriter1) has put in this video essay. I have been a faithful subscriber of his youtube channel for more than a year now and I watch almost all of his videos but this one was particularly interesting in that it blends explanatory and poetic in a way that elevates the poetic. He shows us that sometimes, understanding the mechanics of a piece of art gives us a better appreciation for it and he does that by deconstructing a specific scene and by focusing his analysis on Hopkins on and off of Westworld.
Evan’s focus on this video was to show the importance of acting in solidifying the concept of the series Westworld, applauding along the way the cinematographic choice of keeping the camera on Hopkins.
I think that this essay and the way that Evan went about it shows the potential of videographic essays in creating a kind of argument that is largely inaccessible via other media such as the podcast or the conventional academic essay. We can direct our attention to two elements of this video-essay: the visuals and the narration. I attempted to only listen to the essay and that revealed to me that Evan had found a way to mesh his narration with his visuals so well that the two did not operate well in isolation which to me is becoming an important feature of a good video essay. He doesn’t just use the footage from Westworld to make his point but overlays it with dynamic text that helps the audience deconstruct the scene as he is in his mind; he guides the audience through his thought-process, his personal admiration of the scene. He used a timer to count the seconds of silence and being able to count silence in silence was very powerful and respectful of the gravity of the scene itself which would have been violated if he was doing any sort of narration during that time, calling our attention to a silence that was not there anymore. The timer created data about the scene that in a way brings attention to its greatness.
Although the narration cannot exist by itself it brings to the visuals something that could never be explained visually. Evan talks about the figures of styles used in Anthony Hopkin’s script shedding light onto the richness and importance of language and words. All this is delivered in a friendly colloquial tone that is not afraid of interpellation and that infuses the video with a sense of genuine excitement for the topic that is almost contagious.