The Rhetoric Behind The Running

In “Every Runner Has A Reason”, the short opens up with the silhouette of a man with the sun shining behind him, running down a street. In the following shots, the runner, Ronnie is seen in a more clear view, running along various streets in the San Francisco area. It is not until almost 40 seconds into the video that we learn Ronnie is a homeless man. This is important because it not only sets the scene, but also the message of the short. Because Ronnie narrates the entire short himself, it builds his credibility, ethos, it is important our view of him is not skewed from the start. This is why they do not introduce him as a homeless man who runs marathons, but rather as a runner who happens to be homeless. It allows the viewer to see him as he wants to be seen, as someone who is not defined by his living status, but by what he has overcome and accomplished.

The video clips of Ronnie are often comprised of medium shots of him running in slow motion through the streets. This camera angle offers a shot that is more personal to the viewer. It is close enough to allow that distractions in the background are not visible or in focus, like other pedestrians and vehicles, but also allows us to see the majority of Ronnie and what he is doing. The shot selection of him running is also important to changing how the viewer sees Ronnie. The only time we see him as homeless and not running in the video is when he is speaking about his past and the troubles he has gone through. The rest of the video, when he is speaking about how he has overcome his struggles and is speaking about the things he is doing today, it is shots of him running. Even though the video is about him running, the creator of the short finds a way to make the shots of him running mean something special. They function as a metaphor to his success.

The lighting they show him in throughout the video, combined with the music throughout it also works to get the viewer to feel a sense of pride for Ronnie. Accompanying the shots of him is the constant sound of music that can only be described as inspirational. While slow for most of the video, the music pick up its pace, and video with it, when the climax of his story is reached and he is speaking about how he is running to help other like him now. Along with this, the shots are always filled with sunlight. There is never a time where he is seen running through a rainstorm, as this would run counter to the message they are promoting.

The decision to have Ronnie voice his own documentary, the choices made in the camera shots, from the angle, zoom level, lighting and the music accompanying it, all work to push the narrative of success throughout the short. It is not about his homelessness, but how he has found a form of success in his life. Are there any other cinematic techniques that could have been used to further accentuate the message of the film?

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