The Hollow is an incredibly well made, immersive interactive documentary, really putting the viewer in the front seat of a trip into rural West Virginia, and the lives of those who live there. This documentary serves to educate its viewers on both the history of a small, rural county in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, and tell the story of its residents through their eyes. While this is done beautifully, the real story is not the people, but the background in every scene, the mountains, and town that truly convey the most emotion, and make the entire presentation.
This screenshot from The Hollow features the text “I felt that somebody ought to document this area now. So that’s what I have been doing for the past couple years.” What precedes this is Mr. Johnston’s story, his history in the county, along with how, and why he has been taking pictures of the area. This text serves to tell us that even the native population believe that the environment itself, the mountains, the abandoned coal mines, and shambled buildings are what need to be documented, are what make this place significant.
In this screen shot from the documentary, the people shown are our central focus. At a glance we are able to see a resident now, and his past including his family and some of the more important moments in his life. In the center of the screen is the text “I know I’m Home”. These pictures are beautiful, telling their own story wonderfully, but it is the images in the background that truly accentuate the foreground materials, bringing meaning along with value to the text. The pictures of gigantic trees towering above allow us as viewers feel an attachment, an almost immersive experience as if we are there in the forest. These images play such an important role, that perhaps if the trees suddenly became skyscrapers the entire documentary would have a different atmosphere to it.
This final image, centered around a high school senior, Josh Clevenger, is styled differently from the previous. Mr. Johnston’s portrait featured images of his history, his family, things that happened, with nostalgic text detailing his longing for the past. Mr. Clevenger’s stands in stark contrast to Mr. Johnston’s. Josh’s features pictures of him doing things he loves, in the moment, and his text describes his ambitions to move on to greener pastures away from his home. Quite different, but what is similar about them is the most obvious, the central pictures feature the environment heavily, once again reinforcing the notion that the landscape is still the central force of the documentary, the driving force behind everything else.