Documentaries Essay Research Paper In the final

10 October 2017

Documentaries Essay, Research Paper

In the concluding old ages of the 20th century, rare is the docudrama that attracts mass audiences or attending. At a clip when people get to declare their desire for amusement in a battalion of media, the destiny of the non-fiction movie that attempts to state a true narrative is non a happy 1. But there are docudramas that win at the box office and even achieve position as popular menu, largely either by appealing to a specialised audience of sufficient size, or taking a point of position that mass audiences can associate to comfortably and easy. A brilliant illustration of the former is The Sorrow and the Pity ( 1970 ) , Marcel Ophuls ‘ 4? -hour history of life in France during World War II under the Nazi and collaborator governments, which non merely became a major international hit, but was so familiar to filmgoers that Woody Allen was able to utilize it as a familiar mention point in his most successful image, Annie Hall ( The Sorrow And The Pity is the film that Allen ‘s Alvy and Diane Keaton ‘s Annie are be aftering on seeing ) .

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The best recent illustration of the latter is Michael Moore ‘s 1987 hit Roger & A ; Me, a movie picturing Moore ‘s attempts to face General Motors president Roger Smith about the policies that led to the loss of 40,000 occupations in Flint, Michigan. The docudrama has its roots in the film-going wonts of the early 20th century, when audiences were willing to look at about any decently made ( and frequently not-so-decently-made ) ocular stuff in film theatres. In the yearss before telecasting, theatres were expected to demo non merely characteristic movies, but a broad scope of recreations for their frequenters, sometimes including unrecorded amusement every bit good as films. During the 1890s, the huge bulk of movies shown in theatres were of a non-fiction nature, covering existent events. By the beginning of the 20th century, manufacturers had begun showing short films picturing or re-creating events, basically fragmental newsreels, and occasional longer movies covering with famed events, particularly recent calamities. The most noteworthy of these movies in America was D.W. Griffith ‘s 1914 Life of Villa, which assorted footage of existent events and dramatic Reconstructions to state the narrative of the famed Mexican Rebel leader Pancho Villa. World War I was the first war in which motion-picture cameras were available to capture events and for which a film audience existed & # 8212 ; the film industries of most of the combatant states produced propaganda movies warranting their several functions in the struggle. Actual footage shooting in France during the contending managed to do its manner into D.W. Griffith ‘s play Hearts Of the World ( 1918 ) , but the film itself was a fictional play covering with endurance in a Gallic small town under German business. By the terminal of the teens, every major studio had a newsreel unit that specialized in capturing intelligence events on movie and forging the stuff into five-minute digests for distribution to theatres. The documental & # 8212 ; the word derives from the Gallic term documentaire, mentioning to go movies & # 8212 ; as we know it began in 1922 with manager Robert Flaherty ‘s Nanook of the North, which told the narrative of an Eskimo ‘s endurance. Although it was subsequently revealed that some of the stuff was manipulated by Flaherty, the dramatic power of this true narrative was undeniable, and the movie was widely seen and honored. Other major docudramas of the 1920s included Grass ( 1925 ) , by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack ( later responsible together for King Kong and The Most Dangerous Game ) and Chang ( 1927 ) , and Flaherty ‘s Moana ( 1926 ) . In Russia, nevertheless, the documental to the full came into its ain, highlighted by such plants as Sergei Eisenstein ‘s October/Ten Days That Shook The World ( 1928 ) . The 1930s saw the coming of docudramas with political intents and specific dockets in the United States and England. Apart from the newsreel industry, which by so had crews working in apparently every corner of the Earth ( the 1938 Clark Gable action/comedy Too Hot To Handle gives a good representation of what the concern was like ) , both the American and British authoritiess sponsored films intended to convey of import societal issues place to audiences. England created the General Post Office ( or GPO ) Film Unit as a agency for bring forthing non-fiction movies such as BBC & # 8211 ; The Voice of Britain ( 1935 ) and Night Mail ( 1936 ) , which were among the most famed docudramas of the decennary. In America, Pare Lorentz ‘s The Plow That Broke The Plains ( 1936 ) dramatized the crisis confronting husbandmans from dirt preservation, and The River ( 1937 ) dealt with eroding in the Mississippi River basin. Flaherty worked in England, where, in add-on to doing docudramas such as Industrial Britain ( 1932 ) , he was hired by Alexander Korda ‘s London Films to hit a film in India & # 8212 ; this stuff was taken by Korda and reshaped into the dramatic movie Elephant Boy ( 1937 ) , which was a major hit and made a star out of a immature histrion named Sabu. Possibly the most famed and controversial docudramas of the period, nevertheless, came from Germany during the Nazi government and from the work of Leni Riefenstahl, an ex-dancer who turned to directing in 1932. Riefenstahl was responsible for Triumph of the Will ( 1935 ) , a documental picturing a 1934 Nazi mass meeting in Nuremburg, and Olympiad ( 1936 ) , a dramatic passage of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The coming of World War II saw an detonation of involvement in docudramas in America and England. The American part came from the military, in the pretense of movies such as the Why We Fight series. Made under the supervising of manager Frank Capra for the intent of indoctrinating freshly drafted military personnels over the demand for their engagement in the war, these films proved so effectual, that they were finally made available to the populace at big and explained many facets of the history taking up to the war, the involvements of the different states involved, and the countries of concern that they shared with the United States. The British gov

ernment began making documentaries within 30 days of the declaration of war, dealing with just about every permutation of the war, from England’s readiness for war (The Lion Has Wings, 1939) to the need for secrecy (Next of Kin) and morale boosters intended for domestic and overseas audiences such as London Can Take It and Diary For Timothy. In England, many new directors, including Carol Reed, showed their potential in the making of wartime documentaries (although established filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock also made films supporting the war effort), while in America, it was old veterans such as John Ford (The Battle of Midway, 1942), John Huston (Report From The Aleutians, 1943), and William Wyler (The Memphis Belle, 1944 — which later became the basis for the dramatic film of the same name from 1990) who distinguished themselves. And some of their work, such as John Huston’s Let There Be Light 1945), depicting the recovery of combat fatigue victims, was considered too strong for viewing by the general public at the time and was not seen for several decades afterward. The end of World War II brought an end to massive government investment in documentary production and coincided with a general withdrawal of activity in non-fiction film work as many of the studio newsreel units found their budgets cut back. The growth of local and network television news during the 1950s and early 1960s wiped out the domestic audience for newsreels, although private industry occasionally sponsored documentary features, such as Standard Oil’s backing of Flaherty’s The Louisiana Story (1948). The advent of the so-called Atomic Age, and the public’s unfamiliarity with nuclear weapons and nuclear power fostered the making of numerous films meant to reassure them about the former and sell them on the latter. Many of the most over-the-top examples of these films were assembled by directors Kevin Rafferty, Jayne Loader, and Pierce Rafferty into a documentary of their own entitled The Atomic Cafe (1982), which had ferociously political fun at the expense of the originals’ lies and half-truths about the hazards of atomic warfare and the ways of surviving nuclear attack — The Atomic Cafe became a major box-office hit and was heavily distributed in theaters, on television, and on home video. By the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, television had become the source of most documentary activity. The CBS News production Harvest of Shame (1959), depicting the plight of migrant workers in America, became the model for network activity in this area, and the years that followed, with the advent of the Vietnam War and the so-called war on poverty, generated television specials dealing with American actions overseas and poverty within our own borders. War has always been an especially compelling subject for documentaries, beginning with the World War II Navy celebration/tribute series Victory At Sea during the 1950s and continuing through such programming as CBS’s World War I, narrated by Robert Ryan, up through Thames Television’s The World At War (probably the best World War II documentary series there is), narrated by Laurence Olivier, and American Public Television’s 1980s series Vietnam: A Television History. The latter also proved extremely controversial, as various political figures on the right demanded (and were ultimately granted) equal time to respond to what they perceived as the program’s left-wing, anti-American slant. In theaters, however, the documentary virtually disappeared, apart from exceptions such as Marcel Ophuls’ The Sorrow And The Pity, which, despite its four-hour-plus running time, became a major hit around the world. Audiences no longer looked to the theatrical film experience as one that was supposed to educate as well as entertain; to reach modern filmgoers, documentary filmmakers discovered that they had to do both. The Rafferty/Loader/Rafferty film The Atomic Cafe did so, using gallows humor and politics as a hook that drew millions of people to it. At the other end of the decade, Michael Moore created an even larger splash with his delightfully deadpan, devastating Roger & Me, which skewered General Motors and chairman Roger Smith, as well as numerous other targets and by-standers. Moore’s technique, apart from an unflappable demeanor even in the most ridiculous situations with the camera rolling, seems mostly to involve letting the camera roll, and permitting people to speak their minds and, often as not, make fools of themselves, all with the purpose of questioning the way the public and the conventional media present information and stories. When Moore’s movie was nominated for an Oscar, however, controversy erupted from the ranks of more traditional documentary filmmakers, who questioned whether the movie was really a documentary or, in fact, a comedy using documentary techniques. Additionally, some political pundits on the Right cited the nomination of Roger & Me as evidence of Hollywood’s anti-business attitude. They questioned whether a movie that takes a specific political point-of-view should be judged as a documentary. Actually, the picture was just damned funny and raised real questions about the motivations of General Motors, Smith, and the various players in the farce surrounding Flint, Michigan’s decline. Their criticism ignored the fact that virtually every feature-length documentary from the 1930s and 1940s that is still remembered today took its sponsor’s point-of-view, whether it was teaching farmers about soil conservation for the government, justifying our entry into World War II on the side of the British and the Soviet Union, or presenting Standard Oil as an enlightened steward of the land in The Louisiana Story. Moore — an iconoclastic filmmaker with a background that indicates a keen appreciation for making waves, including a stint writing for Mother Jones magazine — didn’t seem to suffer from the controversy, however, and has since been given access to prime-time on the NBC network, as well as other film opportunities.

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