Jenny Lapple (DST: The Day Nobody Died)

The Day Nobody Died 

 After searching through dozens of digital stories, it was this particular title that caught my attention and a stream of questions that kept it. Was this a near-death experience? Who experienced it? Where did it happen? What were the circumstances? Before I even hit play, I was already emotionally invested in this story.  

In seconds my questions were answered…”things didn’t go as planned…I was out of position and had to act fast…a blinding flash and a loud bang…” At this point the narrator does something very interesting in that he switches from this technical description to a physical one: “…it felt like electricity was running through my body…everything seemed to fade into the distance…” One moment I was watching the situation from above and the next I was feeling it from within. Meanwhile, images of gun shots, a lightning bolt, and the photograph of the proud officer and narrator, Michael Thompson, fade in and out of sight for a compelling visual portrayal of the story. 

 Then, the descriptive details become even more poignant and the viewer is drawn deeper into the experience, as though it were happening at this very moment. “…something about my blood mixing with filth disturbed me…” he said, and “…the nauseating smell of burnt gun powder and the tearing sensation throughout…” made me shudder as I listened. The visual accompaniment to the narrative was that of a recognition ceremony honoring the officer. Remarkably, even though I knew from this footage he would survive this experience, the horror of the descriptive details coupled with my imagination kept me locked in the situation fearing the worst. 

His partner is then heard making a frantic call to the station screaming “…cop down, cop down!” The commotion mixed with the eerie composure of the narrator’s voice was unsettling and jarring. I felt torn and restless and perhaps exactly as he had wanted. What happens next is similar to a montage sequence in a Tarantino film: flickering flashes of his life, a dry news report recounting the incident, and the narrator’s unwavering voice pulling him through his last moments of life. 

 The narrator pulls through in the end and images of angels, serene clouds, and shining light restore the peace once again. The collaboration of visual imagery and symbolism, live footage, and a slightly detached vocal narrative all held together by a slightly agitated rock song circling around the words “nobody died” create an unforgettable portrait of one man’s encounter with a near-death experience.  

 This digital story is available at

Category: W2: Digital Story
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3 Responses
  1. jjanes says:

    Like you say in your post, this is a very interesting and compelling story, and one that is well told through the digital story medium. The graphics were well placed, and I appreciated the occasional sound bite that enhanced the narrative. I especially liked the news footage that came at the end of the video because I felt that it really tied the story together, taking it from a simple narrative to something that really happened. I would, however, fix the background music. Despite the fact that it is an extremely good fit for this particular story, it really takes away from the narrator, who has an extremely soft voice. I wouldn’t remove the song, but rather soften it until the very end…or maybe raise the level of the narrator’s voice.

  2. dcook6 says:

    I agree that the story itself is very interesting. However, I also had to watch the movie several times because the background music was so distracting. It was a good musical choice for the content of story, but it overpowered the other elements. At one point I realized I wasn’t focusing on the visual imagery because I was straining to hear the narrator’s soft voice.

    I also enjoyed the sound clips, and thought the visual images were well chosen. At the end, I had to pause the movie twice in order to read the quote by Theodore Roosevelt because the pace was faster than I could read. With just a few tweaks, I think this would be a really great digital story.

  3. rfachner says:

    I agree with the comments about the music. It was a great song, and very well tied in to the story, but too loud and over powering. It was distracting, and it was a shame that it somewhat drowned out the narrative, because his narration was good. On the whole it was a really powerful story and I really enjoyed the little intimate details of his experience, that the ground was filthy, that he tried to speak and couldn’t. Those details really drive home the point that this is a personal story and makes it seem like its happening in real time. I also thought the addition of the news story at the end was a fantastic touch, it took what had been an extremely personal inner narrative and placed it into a larger context.