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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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documentaries introduction

Documentaries Introduction

Media Studies 120 - April 10th, 2013

warm up scategories
Warm-up: Scategories

Try to think up a word that matches the category and letter.

Bonus points for alliteration.

small group discussion
Small Group Discussion

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?

whole group discussion
Whole Group Discussion

Now that you’ve talked about a few different documentaries, what makes a documentary a documentary?

what is a documentary
What is 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.

the first films
The First Films

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.”

the first films1
The First Films

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 documentary
The First Documentary

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

nanook of the north
Nanook of the North

Initial impressions.

This film was immensely popular. Why?

However, many of the scenes, including the one we just watched were faked.

nanook of the north1
Nanook of the North?

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.

reality vs dramatic reenactment
Reality vs. Dramatic Reenactment

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?

reality vs dramatic reenactment small group discussion
Reality vs. Dramatic Reenactment Small Group Discussion

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using each of these approaches?

What techniques are you seeing used in each?


America's Most Wanted

documentary definition again
Documentary Definition Again

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.