Documentary films are all about creating viewpoint on their subject matter – Bra Boys

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Documentary are able to create different ideologies based on how the come across to their viewer. The documentary film Bra Boys, by directors Sunny Abberton and Macario De Souza seeks to portray its central characters, Sunny, Jai and Koby Abberton as products of their harsh upbringing as well as brothers who take their gang’s motto “blood is thicker than water” literally. It also seeks to portray the brothers as people who value their community and its wellbeing over their own. The documentary uses the filmic techniques of structure, selection of detail and audio codes to project a positive light in the brothers involvement in the events that make up the documentaries plot and, as a result, create a viewpoint of the Bra Boys and its members that allows the viewer to empathise with the brothers and their predicament.

When creating the documentary, Abberton was cautious when picking specific details that made the viewer question the level of guiltiness that is placed on the Bra Boys when being involved in various crime situations. The selection of detail on several occasions positions the gang almost as victims, as if they never initiated any of the problems they took part in and they just found themselves caught up in them by accident. For example, when looking at the case of Anthony Hines’s murder, neither Jai nor Koby give any detail on their part of the story, saying “the only people they had to tell the story to was the jury”. The fact that they chose not to talk in depth about the event, whether it’d be to stick with the “gang moral code” or not, may position the viewer to question if they have anything to hide or if the truth simply leaves them in a negative light. The only other witness in the murder of Hines was the girl in the car, yet the viewer does not get to hear any of her testimony. Her absence makes the situation even more questionable, thinking maybe if she were there she could reveal something that would not favour the Boys, which is why they chose to keep her unacknowledged. Besides their criminal convictions, the documentary also focuses on specific details regarding the Abberton’s hard and violent childhood. With things such as growing up with a heroin addicted mother and physical abuse, the Boys managed to overcome this by turning to surfing for comfort and “choosing the ocean lifestyle”.

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These details reinforce the Abberton’s hard work to get to where they are now, making the viewer empathise with the brothers as they had a hard life growing up yet they still managed to make it to the top of the surfing ladder. When watching the film today, young surfers could view the Abberton’s story as an inspiration, but only because they are oblivious to everything else besides the fact that they are world champions.

Russel Crowe’s involvement in the documentary sparked major interest in the project, but the film itself is a searing, emotional insight into the lives of the Abberton brothers. In the documentary, the narrator ensures that the viewer sees particular scenes, which could show the protagonists in a very negative light, with a heavy bias towards the gang members. The objective this film seeks to fulfill is to get the audience to view these situations from the Bra Boys perspectives and thus create a feeling of empathy from the viewer. The fact that Crowe is such a major Australian icon and people look up to him so much, his narration instantly captures the viewers attention and has them believe that whatever he is saying is true. Many viewers did not realize that Crowe actually had little involvement in the film and that the directors, who made such a big deal out of his part, could come across as attention-seeking towards the media.

Crowe said, “I stepped away from that. Whatever was encapsulated in that documentary is not really the full story and the longer you wait the more things happen. I wasn’t actually directly attached to the film, but my involvement helped the producers get their own idea off the ground.” The way Crowe’s voice is used in the film as well as it’s combination with a very eerie background music sets a very haunting and frightful mood on various occasions. Such tense atmosphere could position the viewer to question the stereotypical image of the laid back and peaceful Australian surfer, and to look at the Bra Boys as an example of what the surfing lifestyle is really about. Crowe describes fight scenarios and the wounds and scars that consequenced from them, but the Bra Boys seem to show them off as if they were proud of what they have accomplished. They set themselves across as mayor risk-takers, being it fights or big waves, thus labelling themselves as survivours who can take on anything.

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Documentary films are all about creating viewpoint on their subject matter – Bra Boys. (2016, Aug 29). Retrieved from

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