Note: This post is an assignment for a School Library Media/Materials course.


Natasegara, J. (Producer) & Von Einsiedel, O. (Director) (2014).  Virunga [Motion Picture]. USA: Netflix.

Qualitative Analysis (Text Complexity measure analyzed using SCASS/Achieve the Core):

Text Structure ranges from moderately to exceedingly complex. Organization connections are among an expanded range of ideas, processes and events spanning the history of the Congo and the Virunga National Park including social, economic, ecological, and political issues. Most connections are implicit or subtle but some are straightforward. Text features directly enhance the viewer’s understanding.  As this is a film, the use of graphics is integral to the understanding of the content and therefore is considered exceedingly complex.

Language features: The language is conventional and is largely explicit although parts of the text are in French and translated in captions, adding to the complexity of the text. Vocabulary is contemporary and familiar and sentence structure is fairly simple and consists of mainly simple sentence structure and some compound sentences.

Purpose: The purpose is fairly easy to infer but there are some more subtle connections to be made. Connections range from the concrete to the abstract.

Knowledge Demands: The subject matter has a mix of common knowledge and more challenging abstract concepts. A person unfamiliar with the area and its history can easily access the text. There are few references to other texts or outside theories.

Virunga is a documentary that strives to bring attention and sympathy to the Virunga National Park and its efforts to preserve the park from poachers, armies and oil companies. As such, the grammar of the media, such as video editing, has been done to this effect. The editing of content has been done to tell the struggles of the Virunga National Park.


Curricular Content standards:

AASL 21st Century Standards skills that can be addressed:

1.1.3 Develop and refine a range of questions to frame the search for new understanding.

1.1.4 Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer

1.1.5 Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context.

1.3.2 Seek divergent perspectives during information gathering and assessment.

2.1.1 Continue an inquiry-based research process by applying critical-thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge.

2.1.3 Use strategies to draw conclusions from information and apply knowledge to curricular areas, real-world situations, and further investigations.

3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.

2.3.1 Connect understanding to the real world.

4.1.1 Read, view, and listen for pleasure and personal growth.

Common Core Standards:

History/Social Science:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.3 Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.8 Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.


I chose this film because it can be used for many different curricular connections. This film can be analyzed in the context of a history and social science course, science courses, economic courses and political analysis. When I first watched it I was surprised about how little I knew about the region, considering that I had been interested in Dian Fossey and her work with the mountain gorillas. The movie connects the current state of Virunga National Park with the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s, ongoing civil and economic unrest in the region as well as international oil interests.

Virunga Movie