Looking for the latest YouTube phenomenon? Look no further than video essays!
Creators have been making school-level educational content on YouTube for years (some of it has even been shown in classroom settings!), so does it come as any surprise that the natural next step would be video essays? They’ve totally swept the platform, and we’re obsessed. The following videos are just six brilliant examples…
David Lynch: The Treachery of Language | What’s So Great About That?
The largest sub-genre in video essays is film criticism. It’s not surprising, considering the medium’s natural fit with visual analysis, but it does make it hard for videos to stand out amongst the thousands.
Grace Lee of the channel What’s So Great About That? distinguishes herself and stands out from the crowd with the use of beautiful animation to connect clips and illustrate ideas, in this examination of filmmaker David Lynch’s use of language. Grace uses precise examples to offer a potential explanation of the paradox of Lynch, who resists using words to explicitly explain his work, but relies so heavily on words within it. It’s a really interesting take.
Colour In Storytelling | Channel Criswell
(The first 21 seconds of this video contain flashing colours that could be dangerous for viewers with epilepsy.)
Toronto-based Lewis Bond demonstrates his skill for dissecting film with this video on how colour is used on screen. Starting with the psychological and cultural explanations of different colours, Lewis goes on to dive into how films build their own colour vocabularies. Using examples of colour-focused directors such as Wes Anderson, he examines the power of colour to influence and enhance the viewer’s experience.
If you’re not a film student, the use of colour in film might not be something you’ve ever given much thought to, but we promise that’ll all change after watching this video.
Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness [Video Essay] | Trash Theory
This video by Trash Theory starts as an interesting look at the connection between films and musical albums. Citing the often-held fan theory that Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon matches up with The Wizard of Oz, it looks to see if Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World matches up with The Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness in the same way. However, it soon moves on to discuss fans inferring meaning that wasn’t intended in the original work, and how that can influences the perception of art.
Really makes you think, huh?
Exploring CORALINE’s Childhood Horror | Ryan Hollinger
Interested in the analysis of videos games and horror movies? Then Ryan Hollinger‘s videos were made for you!
In this selection, Ryan examines the place of childhood in Tim Burton’s Coraline. By comparing it to other properties that feature children and horror elements in different ways, he builds a theory of what Coraline’s age means for the plot and her personal arc. Ryan’s comedic voice keeps the dark subject matter light, as well as deeply interesting, and we left the video with a whole new perspective on a film that scarred us when we were younger!
Examining the Problems of Life is Strange: Before the Storm | Writing on Games
While it’s not yet as popular as film criticism, video game analysis is a rising focus of video essays. Hamish Black of Writing on Games has some of the best videos of the genre out there, including this detailed breakdown of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm.
Hamish clearly cares about the Life is Strange series, and his criticisms of Before the Storm in comparison to its predecessor come from a place of genuine disappointment, which lends his argument a weight and relatability, even if you haven’t played either game.
What Is “Virtue Signalling”? | hbomberguy
The only entry on this list that doesn’t analyse a media property, Harry Brewis‘s What Is “Virtue Signalling”? examines a phrase that’s thrown around a lot in arguments against social justice. Using the same techniques of the previously discussed essays, including hand-drawn animation and spoken narration, Harry breaks down the history and usage of the phrase “virtue signalling”.
Informative and often hilarious, Harry’s videos point to the potentially expansive future of video essays, and we look forward to seeing where he takes the genre.
So there you have it…
Six video essays about film, games, and culture you should watch. Whether you’re looking for an at-home film school or the tools to analyse popular culture, video essays on YouTube are reaching more subjects and sharing more ideas every day, and we highly recommend you check some of them out. We guarantee you’ll learn something new.
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