Telling The Truth
The notion of ‘ there are many different truths as there are tellers’ refers to the truth being an ideal that is shaped by the composer. The truth is complex, constructed and rarely simple due to its confusing nature of how it can be shaped and in itself not an entity. It is the different interpretation of recreating or retelling it which make a truth. Geoffrey Robertson’s autobiographical memoir The Justice Game, Nicholas Hynter’s recreation of Arthur Millers The Crucible and Raymond Briggs Picture book The Tin Pot foreign General and the Old Ion Women all represent their perspective to audiences, a version of ‘their’ truth through techniques such as authoritive persona, manipulation of language, satire and editing.
Human rights activist Geoffrey Robertson establishes himself as both an insider and outsider, a current new age generation thinker, social commentator and legal elite in order to gain his audiences confidence. Geoffrey Robertson develops an authoritive persona by using his preface to set up authority by referring to history in order to validate his point of view. It is Geoffrey Robertson’s intention in his book The Justice Game to represent his truth to the educated general public through the scaffold of the law. Through his use of sophisticated eloquent vocabulary, legal jargon and first person Geoffrey Robertson positions us to believe his representation of the truth.
In ‘The Trials of Oz’ Geoffrey Robertson positions his audience to believe that Judge Argyle is out of touch with society for example he was unaware of the success of ‘Hair’ and incompetent in his role as judge. Geoffrey Robertson positions us through the use of hyperbole ‘ pulling the toilet chain’ suggesting the ludicrous nature of the Judges behavior. Also his sarcastic tone and use of theatrical metaphors such as referring to Judge Argyle persuading the jury through the use of his body language through the metaphor ‘ as if trained by Stanislavski’ Geoffrey Robertson is able to position his readers. Similarly he positions his readers in ‘Diana in the Docks’ through the manipulation of language by referring to Princess Diana as ‘ Mrs Windsor’ stripping her of her title establishing that she is just a human being with no higher authority and in the ‘Romans in Britain’ where he uses caricature lampoonery to discredit the judge ‘the judge, a tall man with beetling eyebrows’.
Nicholas Hynter’s movie The Crucible positions us to see how the truth can be manipulated through both the bible and law similarly to Geoffrey Robertson and the manipulation of the truth when law and religion are one. The story charts the journey of Abigail and her group of friends as they are discovered dancing and in an attempt to avoid punishment they configure a falsehood, which is taken as a truth that they can see the devil and that, there are witches among them. The Bible is seen as the absolute truth in the town of Salem where it is set. Much of the movie is set in the Courtroom similarly to The Justice Game where the ‘tellers of the truth’ Abigail and her friends and the accused who are fighting for their life as they are up for the death penalty. The use of authoritive persona can also be seen by Abigail aligning herself in the eyes of others with the bible the book of ‘truth’ and God’s will where she gains power over society becoming virtually unassailable with her truth being absolute. Geoffrey Robertson similarly discusses in ‘Micheal X on Death Row’ how the government and courtroom can manipulate truth, which results in the allowing of the death penalty, and how the death penalty is brutal and horrific. Through careful editing such as short quick contrasts of close ups of the girls faces, music and lighting the audience comes to see how the truth has been constructed by the girls in the courtroom when Abigal confronts John Practor and Mary on of the girls in Abigails pact who is willing to tell her truth the ‘real’ truth.
The notion of ‘there are many different truths as there is tellers’ is given another perspective in The Crucible when the good natured Christian, Elizabeth Practor manipulates the truth in front of the Jury in order to save her husbands good name. This demonstrates that the truth is not only manipulated by the evil and selfish such as Abigail for personal gain but in order to save or help others. The strong sun light which is visible behind Elizabeth as she walks into the court room reinforces her good nature and innocence. Geoffrey Robertson in Micheal X on Death row can be seen similarly to Elizabeth Practor as manipulating the truth in the courtroom in order to save the innocence of another.
Raymond Briggs picture book ‘the tin pot foreign general and the old ion women’ reinforces the notion that ‘ there are many different truths as there is tellers’ as he provides a satirical comment on the human cost of wars, making a powerful political statement on a ridiculous power play between the Argentinean leader General Galtieri wicked foreign general) and the English Margaret Thatcher ( old lady ion) over “the sad little island”. Through the use of extreme caricatures Briggs ‘tells’ his truth of the miss use of power represented with the use of capital letters and the exaggerated features of the caricatures such as the old ion ladies breasts. The text takes a dramatic change of tone just half way through the book where it examines the crudities of power play, the men who have been ‘burned alive’ and ‘blown to bits’ and the pencil drawings of blurred images. When contrasting the childlike tone of ‘great victory’ and the bold caricatures of both leaders with the more serious secound half of the book the devastating outcomes become clear and Brigg’s truth evident.
Briggs is communicating his ‘truth’ to his audience of the real event of ‘the Falklands war similarly to Hynter’s the crucible as they are based on the true Salem witch trials and Geoffrey Robertson who through his memoir’s is retelling his truth on justice and the legal system. All texts through differing techniques such as the manipulation of language and use of authoritive persona retell or recreate their ‘truth’ which reinforces the notion that ‘there are as many different truths as there is tellers’.