DC 205 Lecture 9: Documentaries

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2 Mar 2017
DC 205 Week 9 Documentaries
What is a Documentary?
Claims to present factual information about the world.
May be actual people in actual situations
May record events as they occur
May include other visual aids or re-enactments
May take a stand, state and opinion, advocate a solution to a problem
An interpretation of an event
Is usually a well-organized story with a comprehensive vision
o Classical Hollywood Narrative can be found in a documentary
o Supersize Me Man eats McDonald’s for a month, gets news from a doctor
saying that he should stop eating so much, he then gives up McDonalds
What a documentary is not…
An infomercial, selling a product
A fictional telling of a non-fiction event or character: Ali, Erin Brockovich, The Iron Lady,
The King’s Speech, The Pursuit id Happyness, The Social Network, etc.
o May be called a docu-drama
A “mockumentary”: This is Spinal Tap, Borat, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, etc.
Reality TV: The Real World, Survivor, American Idol, etc.
o Primary purpose is to entertain not inform
Types of Documentaries
The compilation film produced by assembling images from archival sources
The direct cinema documentary (observational cinema) records events as they happen
with minimal interference by the filmmaker and all other participants
o Camera is “invisible”
o Filmmaker is an “uninvolved bystander”
The interview or “talking heads” documentary records testimonies about events, social
movements, people, or other situations
Educational documentaries
Social action
Eclectic - combination
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