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The story of John

 

 

I decided to make a documentary about my friend John. I once talked with a fellow student. She told me that it is hard to decide what kind of documentary you will be making from the beginning. I found that to be very real while making this documentary. I filmed John with the idea of recreating his process, I would have loved to make a newer movie like Notes on Blindness. I would have loved to hire actors and light every scene. There were two problems, the first is that I am a poor college kid, the second, why, what’s the point?

It took a while to decide the meaning of why I used action figures. It was also cheaply made. And after adding the music, the whole film sounds like a Mormon Message. I really was influenced by Bill Nichols’ theory of recreating events. He specifically said that people feel betrayed if the recreation of events feels real, especially when they find out at the end that it is really isn’t real (though, it may be what your documentary is going for.) We watched some films that showed this idea of fake recreation which has made the decision clear; anything recreated does not make an observational mode film. Observational might be something like Cartel Land, where the filmmaker films his subjects in the moment. Neither could it really be the Performative mode, though interacting with the subject is a main central key. Performative mode, though, is a movie like The Gleaners and I, which is a more in the moment, home movie.

Bill Nichols stated that when recreating the past, we need to introduce at the beginning that we are making something that isn’t real. A great example is Stories We Tell because at the beginning, we see people setting the cameras up. We know at the beginning that everything she records is going to be fake, though, everything is filmed like a home movie. The movie is a little difficult though, because after a while, I started to believe that the recreation was the actual events, then at the end it plays everything like a recreation and I felt betrayed.

This documentary is sort of like a poetic mode. We talk about the movie San Soleil which is more of a series of shots with a voice of God narration. This is shown a little more during the recreation parts of the film. John being the voice, or the narrator of the show. But it also doesn’t fall into this category because of its lack of a point, and a juxtaposition of images.

In theory, this movie isn’t a reflective one. We don’t look at ourselves and our perception because of John and his bouts in the Netherlands. We could relate this movie to History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige because of its recreation of events. I think that History and Memory does really well at recreating events juxtaposed with historical artifacts.

So to answer the question, the mode that this film is most like is probably an autobiographical one. We can most likely relate it to the things we watched. It uses a talking head who talks about his experience as a kid. We recreate them using images that represent the situation placed in front of us. We see this in Stories We Tell also in the movie Man on Wire. It has traces of participatory mode because I, the filmmaker, interact with the subject. I know we see that in the films we watched in class as well, but I think that is what separates Stories We Tell with Man on Wire, where the filmmaker doesn’t appear to ask any questions to the subject.

Overall, I think this movie is more like Nanook of the North. I actually think I used it for inspiration while making this documentary. I know that in fact it will never be Nanook of the North by any stretch of the imagination, but it has traces of what I learned from it. Let me briefly describe them to you: I really like how Nanook of the North creates controversy of whether it is a reality, or if it is purely narrational. It was, though, how Flaherty saw these eskimos at one point in time. Does that mean that he was wrong in his portrayal? No, it just means that some things might be made up or assumed from what we see. Nanook of the North did betray a lot of the audience this semester, and apparently history, because its recreations were portrayed as reality.

So there is where I get my influence of Stories We Tell. I tried to show that this was a film based on the opening shots of me adjusting focus with a sharp zoom and also by filling up a bathtub (which may have been obvious). John’s story is super interesting. Anyone willing should really go and talk to him.

This far into the paper, you are probably thinking that I knew what I was doing when I started going into this project, this was only the beginning. I didn’t want to use the action figures at first. I had no reason to. I had to think of a way to creatively tell John’s story and why I was telling it the way I was. So when I thought of making action figures and using household items to tell his story I had to have a reason to, or the story would lag in confidence (which sometimes I have). Eventually I realized that I was telling the story of a kid who had a world in which he became an alien. Then after becoming more “human” as some might say (not to cause any trauma or problems with those who immigrate to the states.) When he went back home, his home was foreign to him. It is really a sad story that has relevance to A.I. from Steven Spielberg. Everyone goes through it as well. My parent’s house that I grew up in became foreign to me when I left to go to college. It really hasn’t been the same ever since. All of that happened when I became a foreigner to another place and made that place my home.

To wrap up this paper, I would like to talk about how my film relates to fiction film. In Bill Nichols’ book Introduction to Documentary we learn that reenactments are the overlapping of fiction and non fiction films. That can only be because we are reenacting something that actually happened. Like Mr. Nichols said in his guest lecture, you can’t take back the past and record it onto film, instead you recreate it. I don’t know if my little toy scenario is included into this idea, but I think using toys is closing the gaps between fiction and non-fiction. All in all, it was really fun to make.

 

 

Sources:

The Gleaners and I. Artificial Eye, 2009. DVD.

 

Cartel Land. Dir. Matthew Heineman. A&E Indiefilms, 2015. Advertisment.

 

Notes on Blindness. Dir. Peter Middleton. Arte France, 2016. DVD.

 

Stories We Tell. Dir. Sarah Polley. NFB, 2012. DVD.

 

San Soleil. Dir. Chris Marker. Argos Films, 1983. DVD.

 

History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige. Dir. Rea Tajiri. Women Make Movies, 1991. DVD.

 

Man on Wire. Dir. James Marsh. Prod. Simon Chinn. By Igor Martinovic,

Michael Nyman, J. Ralph, and Jinx Godfrey. Magnolia Pictures, 2008. DVD.

 

Nanook of the North. Dir. Robert Flaherty. Revillon Feres, 1922. DVD.

 

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. By Steven Spielberg. Prod. Steven Spielberg. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Warner Brothers, 2001. DVD.

 

Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. Second ed. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010. Print.

A study of married life and the sick boy

 

I had an interesting experience while trying to come up with this film. First of all, I didn’t know what I was going to do my film on. I wish that I could have used a better subject than myself. But, knowing the time frame, and my shyness, I ended up turning the cameras around and showing myself in a married lifestyle.

We discussed in class about how anthropological films are a look at a person’s culture through the eyes of the lens. As an example (two examples actually), we watched Cannibal Tours and The Ax Fight. The style I was going for reflects more the style of The Ax Fight, though, nothing truly eventful happens. I was mimicking the long takes, and the candidness of the moment. We could also use Nanook of the North as a great example. Sure, a lot of the film is made from a recreation of actual events, but those events probably happened in real life giving us a look into someone else’s culture.

I Googled the definition of anthropology, the result was this; “The science of human beings; especially; the study of human beings and their ancestors through time and space and in relation to physical character, environmental and social relations and culture.” (Merriam-websters.com) Now the question is posed, what does a video of me and my wife have to do with this?

I once took a class that studied performances of everyone and why people react the way that they do. The class was called “Performance Studies”. I learned a lot from the class about how and why people react to different situations. We talked about “play” which was a term that was used by Bill Nichols in his guest lecture. We talked about gender identity. Well, I present to you today the study of self in his own environment and his relations to his wife.

The Interpretations Of Cultures By Clifford Geertz further elaborates that anthropology “does not explain everything, not even everything human, but it still explains something; and our attention shifts to isolating just what that something is.” (Geertz) This meaning that every film that we watch doesn’t have to show us everything about a culture, just a piece of what it is.

I also don’t know if there are any rules to filming oneself. The last time we saw something in first person it was the movie Sherman’s March. I don’t think I would call that an anthropological film because it didn’t really give us the culture of the society. Then again, mine probably didn’t either, and neither did I feel that The Ax Fight portrayed. In fact, all of them are really one moment.

I think that this film isn’t an observational because of my perception of first person from the movie Sherman’s March. Though, both movies probably fit into the anthropological mode well. I think that the movie is anthropological because of what each character wants, which shows their culture, ultimately.

 

Sources

 

Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2016. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anthropology>.

 

Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic, 1973. Print.

 

Cannibal Tours. A Film by Dennis O’Rourke Production in Association with the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, 1988. DVD.

 

The Ax Fight. Documentary Educational Resources, 1975. DVD.

 

Nanook of the North. Released by Contemporary Films/McGraw-Hill, 1968.

 

Sherman’s March. By Ross McElwee. First Run Features, 1986.

What is a Home movie?

This paper is more of an internal search of defining home movies. Home movies to me are defined as things filmed to create memories and make something last throughout history. Home movies are different from other documentaries because of the subject and how it is treated, such as we see in the movies Nobody’s Business and Stories we tell. The rest of this paper will argue why these two movies are a repertoire of home movies rather than other modes of documentary. I will explore the what is a home movie, and why it is a home movie.

We read in Mining the Home Movie a description of a home movie. It gives definitions such as private filmmaking which is not intended to be distributed. To this I argue the television show AFV. AFV is a television show that takes home movies and presents them in a humorous tone. In the same reading we read that home movies are things “worth filming”. And to a certain extent I believe this. People film, or take pictures of only memories that they want to relive. There is also argument against that, though. We read in another reading for the class titled Remaking Home Movies that the home movies the author found were antiquated. She didn’t like them because they were really a heightened version of her life which she believed wasn’t true. This is interesting because if all we record are memorable moments, then we never really see the true self of any film. Richard Fung then goes on to say that he recreates all of the memories in his life so he can show his reality. This causes the argument, is that not real because of its more narrative direction? I don’t think that we will ever be able to define that. But there is something to creating memories of your life that is included into what a home movie is.

So why are the films Nobody’s Business and Stories We Tell home movies? Well, we have to look at the motives behind the filmmaker, ultimately. Usually one films their kids or their loved ones to preserve a moment in history. I remember last semester in one of my classes watching a small animation of people who go around and record (audio) of people and their stories. They said that this preserved their stories. The people in charge of the recording talked about how they recorded their grandparents on a tape recorder (home recording) and now that they are gone, the more valuable the tapes have become. I think this applies with the talking head interviews. Most of the movies we watched had something in common, the people in the movies interviewed were old. I think the preserving of their stories is why I would count Nobody’s Business and Stories We Tell could be considered home movies. The fact that something is professionally done is a void conversation. The reason being that I know a photographer (professional), and all of his pictures are of his family in moments in time.

In the end, I really think that a home movie is based on the intent of the author and the audience. Nobody’s Business for example could have been made to preserve this father and his quirkiness. Or the author could have used the film to show the world his father’s quirks. Maybe it is a mixture of both. I guess this means that the conclusion of this paper, even after talking about the what and the why of home movies, doesn’t have a good ending because of its ambiguity.

 

Nobody’s Business. 1996. DVD.

 

Stories We Tell. Dir. Sarah Polley. Perf. Micheal Polley. National Film Board of Canada, 2012. DVD.

 

Ishizuka, Karen L., and Patricia Rodden. Zimmermann. Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories. Berkeley: U of California, 2008. Print.

 

Listening Is an Act of Love. Dir. Rauch Brothers. YoutTube. The Corperation for Public Broadcasting, 28 Nov. 2013. Web. 5 Feb. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rgJRzz_zHo>.

Docmode2

I tried doing a Performative mode documentary using the movies The Gleaners and I and History and Memory as my examples. I think for the most part it came across as Performative. I used music and sound expressively (which was from bensound.com). It was somewhat essayic, I tried to write a script around a certain idea of decision making. In the book Introduction to Documentary we learn that Performative is closely related to poetic mode: “Like the poetic mode of documentary representation, the Performative mode raises questions about what knowledge actually amounts to.” Then later in that section it described how Performative uses images and sound to create a feeling in abstract ways.

Thus, Decision of the ADHD (the documentary I made) was made as artistic as possible. I Fashioned the bowling to replay over and over just like in History and Memory when we saw the water falling into a canister. I used only footage that was recorded earlier this year which I took from The Gleaners and I. I also interwoven the politics of the elections because it was on my mind. I fashioned that also from The Gleaners and I where the main actress always refers to her age.

I even messed with the images (which seemed only somewhat present in the movie History and Memory, where the image of the water would sometimes be slowed down or zoomed in. I did the same with the picture of the bowling and the newspaper. I even put some in reverse when I talk about things past and regret.

I would argue however that my movie probably leans more into the poetic mode because it looks like it might have spawned from the movie San Soleil, which also was written in essayic form. It also came to an overall conclusion, though, I don’t know what it was. Poetic is suppose to display visuals and sound that in the end come to a point. I might have accidentally made my video this way. I think it was because the essay I wrote wasn’t written like a school paper with proper points (which I don’t know if that is the best way to write an essay).

This assignment was really hard. I wanted to prove a point with two subjects. Both subjects were rather difficult for me to express because I hate politics, but I love my wife, and yet right now I am in the midst of them both. It also made me venerable. I think the hardest part about it was I couldn’t find the images that I wanted to go with my essay, or I couldn’t align my essay with the images. I had to sacrifice something each time and make some rather hard decision as to why some image was on the screen. I think that was the hardest part and something I learned. Next time I watch a movie in this mode, I will pay attention.

 

Les Gleneurs Et La Gleneuse. Dir. Agnes Varda. Cine Tamaris, 2000. DVD.

 

History and Memory: For Akiko and Tadashige. Dir. Rea Tajiri. Women Make Movies, 1991. DVD.

 

San Soleil. Dir. Chris Marker. Argos Films, 1983. DVD.

 

Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 2001. Print.

 

Home movies are Particiapatory?

This paper is to argue that Participatory mode can include the home movies. The way I will prove this is by the science of how it is shot. The science I have come up with draws down to 3 points: 1. The first person camera. 2. How home movies are archival footage. And 3. How participatory draws on raw-ness.

The main goal behind a participatory documentary is that it is shot in first person. With the examples of Sherman’s March as the main example. We can tell that it was shot in first person because the director/cameraman, Ross McElwee would communicate to his subjects from behind the camera, probably even treating the camera as part of him. Even if he was in front of the camera, he was the one who pressed record, and placed the camera where it needed to be. In fact, he was the only one in the room while recording. We can compare that to Dean Duncan’s home movies, which he placed on a website called fitforthekingdom.byu.edu. In it there is a movie about scripture study. We can hear Dean’s voice behind the camera. Nothing spectacular happens aside from asking his kids about scripture study. Or there is another little film about New Years. Dean is wandering the house and his action only resides on a few things, such as kids with sparklers, a sleeping child and a wife in the kitchen.

A direct quote from Nichols’ book:

“Participatory mode: emphasizes interaction between filmmaker and subject. Filming takes place by means of interviews or other forms of even more direct involvement from conversations to provocations. Often coupled with archival footage to examine historical issues.” (Nichols, 31)

Another example that is very prevalent in this argument is the film, The Maelstrom. The movie in its entirety, was based off of home movies strung together in a poetic formation to drive a point. Isn’t it interesting that The Maelstrom fulfils the definition given by Nichols? It is archival footage. Archival meaning saved, old, and put into a collection. As we have learned, the footage was saved, and placed into the ground, then unburied. Now we can all see that their family legacy was left behind. In the film world, they are still together. What else makes this film a partial participatory mode is that the family interacts with the camera. This is done from the start when everyone is waving at the camera. Looking deeper into this, I don’t know if the camera could record sound, or even if participatory documentary even came out until after sound. But from the overall look of the film- I gather that the filmmaker was interacting with the subjects by means of a conversation. At least, that would be my guess because I’m trying to prove a point.

I, too, have made some home movies. I have realized that the more I create, the more they turn out to be participatory. Even when I try to be more observational, it has participatory moments. The point is that participatory mode draws on raw sources. Raw reactions to the filmmaker or even raw film techniques that make everything surreal. I made a video diary of me and my wife while we have been on dates. They are raw because me and her have established the camera in the mix, which means our reactions and conversations are raw.

Therefore (the point to drive it home), because home movies interact with the camera, can be archival, and are raw, Home movies must be a participatory documentary.

Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 2001. Print.

Dir. Ross McElwee. N.p., n.d. DVD

The Maelstrom: A Family Chronicle. Dir. Peter Forgacs. 2008. DVD.

 

doc mode 1

I chose to do an observational piece. I chose it because it seemed the easiest type to do, but actually it was not. Observational seems to be a movie where the it shows the course of events over a certain amount of time. Take the documentary about Metallica for an example against my documentary. The movie seemed to have gone to a point and a theme. Their theme was that the members of the band are normal people. The movie I made is just a dysfunctional family and I don’t know if there even is a theme. I just took my camera to an event.

It is similar in a couple points of views, there are people who are interacting with the camera like showing that there really is a film being done on the subject. It doesn’t include interviews though. It does however clue us in to the subject by telling us via text what is going on during the presentation.

There are things however, like the theme, that make the documentary unlike the movie about Metallica. For example, in the movie we watched in class, the band (Metallica) used expository techniques such as using MTV snippets of the band to prove certain points of the narrative. My film, however, doesn’t use any stock footage, nor footage from another film. Mine is purely observational.

Another thing that separates this documentary from the Metallica movie is it doesn’t include anything poetical. Referencing the movie about Metallica, there is a part where the main singer is talking about giving up temptations. During the song, some footage of women getting undressed are overlaid on the original film. I only say that it is poetical because of how shots are juxtaposed, yet never shot at the same time. But the random shots juxtaposed against each other is brought to a specific point. My film doesn’t include that.

Lastly, there are some interviews done during the Metallica film. I didn’t interview anyone. I tried to remain the fly on the wall just like the Maysles brothers who we learned about in class. Because I took the fly on the wall approach to the movie, I was able to find things to shoot. I did, however, seem to miss putting some great moments on camera because it was pointing somewhere else.

Some might be able to argue that my film is partly poetical. I only say this because of the movie The Maelstrom which is a series of home movies strung together to prove a point, or evoke emotions of some kind. Mine is shot like a home movie. I did try to keep myself off of the camera though. When I was off of the camera, I was interacting with the subjects. I was even helping serve food. I guess why this doc was rather hard to shoot. I have a relationship with this family and it is hard to catch all of their personalities on film.

Pathos+ethos=logos?

Specific thesis: Expository documentary give people a false sense of logos by its use of pathos and ethos.

 

Specific reason 1 in effort to prove my point: “The expository and poetic modes often harvest, glean, or compile images from the world with relative indifference to the specific individuals or situations captured in order to shape proposals or perspectives on a general topic (Nichols, Introduction to Documentary).” By using other image sources not of their own, expository mode gains a sense of credibility, or ethos, because the gleaned clips say what the documentary film maker is trying to prove. This could something like the President of the United States saying he is sorry about a certain issue as we saw in the movie Fahrenheit 9/11. If one was to see this on the screen, would the audience then believe that what the author is saying is logical? He even has the President of the United States on his side, or he agrees with the President. The result is one having ethos. Or we can feel confused by the multiple clips being used like we saw in The Cooperation. Wasn’t the overload of images overwhelming? If you didn’t get emotion from that, maybe you got emotion from people protesting. Either way, you will find that an emotion linked to something absorbed visually. Pathos is real.

 

Specific reason 2 to prove my point: “I think, therefore I am.” (Rene Descartes). Another reason that we give expository documentaries power is because of this quote. The thesis of expository mode tells us what the documentary thinks. The rest of the documentary it is proving that it is (is being a word that has power to it). An audience can give it its credibility by believing what the documentary is, or is saying on a subject. This though is not logos. Logos was defined in class saying that logic is logic because it can’t be classified as law. Therefore, it is not giving audience a false sense of logos.

 

Specific reason 3 to prove my point: There once was a theatrical philosopher (and forgive me for forgetting who exactly) who believed that there is nothing that can play on a stage that one won’t learn from. No matter what, visually watching a performance, you will always learn something. This causes the audience to start learning about something. Learning might cause someone to give credibility to someone.  It also might tap into your emotions and teach you something about yourself. But, I would like to argue that logic is never present because of the way the filmmakers treat their thesis. But when it gets down to the nitty gritty. We cannot come to terms that we learn logic from any performance. Logic is meant to be a studied out answer. We must know of both sides to make logic function purely. Expository modes, for the most part, will never show you the other side of the wall, therefore, we are always one sided and our logic is broken.

 

Specific conclusion. Because of Pathos and ethos, we are deceived to think that logos is being taught, is and is used throughout any expository mode film. But that is purely my opinion.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 2001. Print.

 

Fahrenheit 9/11. Dir. Michael Moore. Perf. Michael Moore. Lionsgate Films, 2004. DVD.

 

The Corporation. Dir. Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. Perf. John Beard and Micheal Moore. Zeitgeist Films, 2004. DVD.

Why Vertov is the new Da Vinci

I am a firm believer that movie directors are artists.

In the text we learn a lot about film directors coming from various backgrounds. We even learn that most of the cinema groups that were formed to watch American movies were artists of some sort. Some of these arts include painters, architects and advertisement specialists. Today, I would really like to focus on Vertov and his movie Man with a Movie Camera as a list of those among the greatest art pieces of its time.

Up until this point in the semester, we have been watching silent films that have been innovative, such as D.W. Griffiths The Birth of a Nation, Flaherty’s Nanook of the North, and Melies’ A Trip to the Moon. However, Man with a Movie Camera blows all of these movies out of the water because it is a compilation and compliment on the Lumiere Brother’s films and uses innovative film techniques and dramatic techniques.

The first thing that makes this film different than any other film is the use of cinematic technique. In the movie we see split frames, we see match cuts, we see canted angles and superimposition. This was the most I have seen, even compared to Melies who superimposed his own head onto different tables. Even the texts mentions that this movie has the technique of being whimsical even to the point of being kaleidoscopic.

The next thing that makes this piece a work of art is that it also the dramatic technique. We take the everyday, then we tell you it is everyday by having you watch people make a movie. It makes you hyperaware of your situations. It uses the Brechtian approach to movie watching, even before Bertolt Brecht himself came out with the genre (don’t quote me on that though).

Lastly, I would like to argue that Man with a Movie Camera is a work of art because of its fan base. We learned in Sharon’s class that there is a website dedicated to the movie. It basically tries to recreate the movie with different shots that contemporary people have shot. Having something that lasts that long, really only makes it a classic. As I have learned about Spielberg, he got into film making by trying to recreate the things that he has seen on the screen.

Because of these reasons alone, and not merely because the text says that the movie is Avant-Garde (which has the definition that it is a creative form of art) do I declare that the movie is a work of art. I would also like to add that it introduced to the film world many new cinematic techniques that have been and will be used for generations to come.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZkvjWIEcoU

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoUafjAH0cg

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3kmVgQHIEY

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FrdVdKlxUk

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dgLEDdFddk

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW9MR6bz3zo&list=PLD8026B87AD3678E1

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IKubW5QWHE

 

http://dziga.perrybard.net

 

Sources

KrasnyKofe. “Man with a Movie Camera (Alloy Orchestra) 1929 – Человек с киноаппаратом.” YouTube. YouTube, 18 July 2011. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Escuelacinepuntocom. “Nanook of the North – Best Quality (HD) – Nanook El Esquimal HD – Full.” YouTube. YouTube, 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Http://www.youtube.com/channel/UClPYqFFzaYyIp-M1Vo5n9Fw. “The Birth of a Nation (1915 Film by D.W Griffith).” YouTube. YouTube, 10 July 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Escuelacinepuntocom. “A Trip to the Moon (HQ 720p Full) – Viaje a La Luna – Le Voyage Dans La Lune – Georges Méliès 1902.” YouTube. YouTube, 15 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Raphaeldpm. “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (The Lumière Brothers, 1895) – YouTube.” YouTube. YouTube, 31 Dec. 1969. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Debbidbu. “The Baby’s Meal.” YouTube. YouTube, 11 June 2009. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Emedmenta. “Georges Méliès [1898] Un Homme De Têtes [The Four Troublesome Heads].” YouTube. YouTube, 06 Oct. 2011. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

“Man With A Movie Camera.” Man With the Movie Camera. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Barnouw, Erik. Documentary: A History of the Non-fiction Film. New York: Oxford UP, 1974. Print.

Hello world!

Documentary took a while to get started in the early days. In fact, there are things that I think are documentaries, though, others may disagree with that opinion. I really think that documentary started with the Lumiere brothers. They made films which we give the name “actualities.” I love the name because it was about nothing but things that actually happened. In my opinion this was probably the closest that we could get to actuality because film was a new concept to the people of that day and age. I’m not alluding the point that people didn’t know what a camera was at that time, but usual cameras weren’t hand cranked.

I understand why some cannot classify this as a documentary though. As it states in the book Introduction to Documentary by Bill Nichols we learn that documentary is nothing without a voice. This could be true because documentary in our day and age are meant to prove a point, or give a voice to the voiceless. Watching people get off of a train never accomplished any of that. In fact, it really just proves the point that film could be done. They were really just starting to figure out what a film camera was.

But I could argue that that train station film (Arrival of a Train) was more of a documentary than that of Nanook of the North. While the book argues that there is no voice of the people getting off of the train, nor was this a film on trains, though the diagonal line was great composition. Look at the people getting out of the train, who are they? Middle class citizens. We are now shedding light on a group of people and getting a peek into their lives. Does it tell a narrative structure? Absolutely not! Does it need to to make movie stars out of those who ride trains?

What makes this even more real is understanding what it took to make the movie, Nanook of the North. In fact, I would almost suggest not learning how the film was made because the illusion of a real eskimo will turn to dust. With all things fabricated, how is there documentary? Yes, while it may be true that some time ago the eskimos would hunt like Nanook did. It was though only a representation of something real (which is a small step away from a “based on a true story” model of film making. Therefore, what the Lumiere brothers started being, in my opinion, more real than most of the documentaries that we have or any film for that matter. Why? Because it was real, it really happened that way, there was no takes (at least to my knowledge) These people on the screen were real and were portrayed only as such. That is why I think that The Lumiere brother filmed something real.

Sources:

Nanook of the North. Dir. Robert J. Flaherty. Pathe Exchange, 1922. DVD.

Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 2001. Print.

Footage links: