Documentaries Introduction. Media Studies 120 - April 10 th , 2013. Warm-up: Scategories. Try to think up a word that matches the category and letter. Bonus points for alliteration. Scategories. Small Group Discussion. Have you seen the documentaries we listed?
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Media Studies 120 - April 10th, 2013
Try to think up a word that matches the category and letter.
Bonus points for alliteration.
Have you seen the documentaries we listed?
If so, how did you feel about them? Good? Bad? Boring?
If not, what are some other documentaries you’ve seen?
How did you feel about them? Good? Bad? Boring?
Now that you’ve talked about a few different documentaries, what makes a documentary a documentary?
Documentaries tell stories about real events and real people, using, for the most part, actual images and objects.
They record what is currently happening or what has already taken place.
They introduce viewers to ideas, people, and experiences they otherwise might not have encountered, or challenge them to question what they already know.
Like fiction films, documentaries can be funny, moving, disturbing, thought-provoking or entertaining.
Some of the first films made were documentaries.
In 1896, French inventor Louis Lumiere developed the cinematographe, a small, lightwiehgt, hand-cranked camera that allowed him to film spontaneously any interesting event he encountered.
He called films such as Feeding the Baby, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory, and Arrival of a Train at the Station “actualities.”
Train Coming Into the Station
Snow Battle in Lyon, France
Why were these films so popular?
Seeing life on film was brand new and thrilling. (first showings of Train short)
Exposed people to life in different places (films were shown in Europe, Asia and the Americas)
The first full length documentary was made by Robert Flaherty, and was called Nanook of the North.
This film involved a group of Inuit living on the coast of Hudson Bay, just below the Acrtic Circle.
Nanook of the North Seal Scene
This film was immensely popular. Why?
However, many of the scenes, including the one we just watched were faked.
At this time, most Inuit hunters were using rifles, not harpoons.
Most Inuit people had abandoned the traditional clothes we see in the video.
In the particular scene we watched, the part where Nanook tried to pull in the seal is completely fake. Instead, it was people off camera pulling on the rope.
Even the seal he eventually pulls up was a staged prop. They killed a seal beforehand and then used it in the scene.
In Nanook of the North, if a scene did not meet Flaherty’s (the director’s) expectations, he did not hesitate to ask his subjects to repeat it.
Because the re-recreated activities were based on the memories of his subjects, Flaherty felt the resulting film was truthful in spirit.
What do you think? Is it ethical to use dramatic reenactments in a film?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using each of these approaches?
What techniques are you seeing used in each?
America's Most Wanted
Though Lumiere’s early films, and shows like COPS and America’s Most Wanted document moments in time, they are generally not considered documentaries.
Instead, a documentary examines a topic in-depth and over an extended period of time.