Looking at The Revolving Door

This documentary wasn’t what I thought it would be. “The Revolving Door” documents the journey of a prostitute (who got into drugs, I think, but not much was said about that although on the main page her ‘diary’ is titled ‘Confessions of an Opium Seeker’…) named ‘Gillian Colby’, and is an interactive documentary where you can view/listen to her diary in her own words, her journey, some animation on a ‘typical night out’ where cops stopped her, and looked at her ward file (she was admitted to some sort of girls’ home after an abusive episode at home). It was really touching, actually…

I think it was kind of a participatory documentary where they interviewed the subject, and used archival film to retrieve some history (of St Kilda as a red light district, etc). There wasn’t any diversity of viewpoints in the doco. It mainly contained biographical information from Gillian – on her childhood, why she became a prostitute, what happens, etc. – but also a copy of her case file (from when she was in the girls’ home) and some historical information on the red light district in St Kilda… but that was it.

I think the animations and photos helped a lot in putting a sort of ‘face’ (albeit an animated one) behind the voice. The short animated reenactment of the cops pulling ‘Gillian’ aside and interrogating her was beneficial to the doco, in a way, as one would feel more involved and empathetic, I think, to Gillian, but also it was weird because the animation was set so that the viewer was in the cop car, and uninvolved. I wasn’t sure why there was an animation specifically for this part of the documentary and not for the other parts, but it was good because it worked well, giving it some sort of context, rather than having this part in audio alone.

In a way, I think I did make my own conclusions about Gillian and the prostitution issue… the documentary wasn’t being very specific in directing one how to think about things. Instead it gave viewers the chance to explore and click around, and look at things as they wish. Listening to Gillian’s diary in her voice was engaging, though, and a bit emotive as well.

I don’t think I feel very manipulated… I do feel some sympathy for Gillian and prostitutes… but mainly because her story was a sad one, and because in the historical part of the doco, they talked about sex workers getting killed and at high risk of getting mugged/abused on the streets… is that considered as manipulation? Oh, maybe I have been manipulated then.. :\

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