The purpose of the documentary is to document i.e. to
report with evidence something that has actually
happened. This can be shown through the use of
Actuality footage or reconstructions. Also, a
documentary is factual.
Types of documentary
• Fully narrated
• An off-screen voiceover is used to make sense of
the visuals and dominates their meaning
• Anchors the meaning of the visuals (pinning down
the meaning of the image)
Natural history (penguins)
Fly on the wall
The camera record the subjects without inference.
This is so viewers have their own opinions and
conclusions of each person.
Uses a combination of interviews, observation and
They might also use some archive material for
example, world war photos (someone else‟s shots)
Subjects of doc acknowledge presence of camera and
often speak directly to the documentary maker
Re-enactment of events as they are supposed to have
Combined elements of doc soap opera genre
Airline, The Hotel (all involve the same “characters”
Features of documentaries
Observation- the „unseen‟ observation places the
audience in the role of eye witnesses to the realities
The subject doesn't acknowledge the camera (address
Relies on interviews
Dramatisation- all documentaries use a sense of drama
throughout the observation element
Events seem to occur naturally in front of the camera
Mise En Scene
Documentaries make carful compose shots so they
contain images they want the audience to see and
are relatable to the context.
Line of argument in a documentary, its what it is
getting across to the audience.
Types of narrative structure
For example- soap operas follow this structure to entice the audience and want them to
watch the next episode.
No loose ends or unanswered questions
Follows chronological order
Doesn‟t follow chronological order and uses
One narrative thread
More than one often these converge or overlap
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