6 November 2014 | ArchonCinemaReviews
Exhaustive documentary skewed toward ultimate conclusion that benefit < cost
Ivory Tower is a comprehensive examination into the typically vast cost and perceived benefit from higher education in America and directed by Andrew Rossi.
As a good or service, higher education in the form of undergraduate studies' cost has grown significantly faster than inflation or any other comparable product. Filmmaker and documentarian Andrew Rossi analyzes the value added by a baccalaureate degree and the associated knowledge and experience gained through various individual case studies in Ivory Tower.
With one of the highest sticker prices of any country to attend college, American tuition has skyrocketed exponentially and significantly quicker than any other good. This is a fact and the tuition of the aughts is no longer remotely comparable to the tuition costs of even twenty to thirty years ago.
As a potential viewer of the film Ivory Tower, If you have thought that the university education system in the United States is flawed then you should enjoy this feature. As a documentary, Ivory Tower is extremely informative and covers the American upper education sector extensively. It does so by going into the historical events that significantly affected and resulted in how the American education system ended up in its current state when necessary but does not reflect the brunt of the film.
Primarily Andrew Rossi, director and writer of the documentary who gained his education from both Harvard and Yale either ironically or influentially, uses individual experiences and case studies as personal snap shots of the university experience to engage viewers. Of the inclusive archetypes, he touches base on: Harvard/the ivy league experience, Cooper Union/free education, state colleges via out of state students/aka party schools, -only colleges (women's and historically black), hacked education, public schools, community colleges, and Deep Springs College/super-specialty schools.
Further Rossi enlists esteemed Presidents and professors from the aforementioned schools and interviews them at length to get their opinions on the benefit versus the cost facing most American parents and prospective students. Further, he speaks with CEOs of companies that offer scholarships to those that drop out of colleges and authors of acclaimed novels that analyze his own hypothesis. The access Rossi gains to the colleges, students, complexes and experts is far-reaching and pretty unparalleled.
Ivory Tower is a film that stretches only 90minutes but the wide breadth of information is encyclopedic without being droning, dry or eye-glaze-over worthy. My only two complaints are that his direction is definitely skewed toward college not being worth the cost (overall), especially if it is the 'traditional' undergraduate experience. Additionally, his cinematography was very uninspired given his luck of being present during news-worthy affairs transpired at the schools he was filming and overall the film had a removed History-channel vibe.
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