The Evolution of Documentary


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Victoria Emerson researches how Documentary has changed over the years.

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The Evolution of Documentary

  1. 1. The evolution of DocumentaryBy Victoria Emerson TIMELINE
  2. 2. Timeline of Documentary 1936 1980 19221895 1950 1960 1935 QUESTIONS
  3. 3. 1895- The Lumière Brothers The Lumière brothers were the first to create a non-fictional piece of film. Though, these were not Documentaries, they were branded as ‘actuality’ films. These consisted of short film clips showing real life events, as if the camera was not there. Though groundbreaking at the time, these clips could only reach 50 seconds in duration. Despite these not being classified as Documentaries, they made a vast influence, as nothing like this had been done before. La sortie de lusine Lumière à Lyon (1895) - Frères Lumière TIMELINE
  4. 4. 1922- The First Documentary John Grierson coined the word ‘Documentary’ whilst reviewing Robert Flaherty’s ‘Nanook of the North’, therefore making it the first official Documentary. Flaherty cleverly manipulated the truth to make a realistic interpretation, in which the audience would believe was true, when in fact, most of the footage was staged. TIMELINE
  5. 5. 1935- Triumph of the Will‘Triumph of the Will’ is aDocumentary film, made by LeniRiefenstahl, which was renownedfor its use of camera movement,and for being the firstDocumentary to use politicalpropaganda. ‘Triumph of the Will’ has inspired more recent Documentaries ever since, both aesthetically and politically. TIMELINE
  6. 6. 1936- Grierson Grierson enjoyed tremendous success through his work in Documentaries, but his biggest achievement was ‘Night Mail’, which informed people of the work involved in taking post from London to Edinburgh. This film was particularly relevant due to the privatisation of Royal Mail during the time, and is even relevant in modern times.Grierson had a strong belief that Documentaries should be used toeducate, as well as entertain, and he often used a very poeticapproach in his work, especially in the sound department. TIMELINE
  7. 7. 1950’s & 60’s - Cinéma vérité Cinéma vérité is a french cinema movement created in the 50’s and 60’s. Cinéma vérité heavily uses handheld camera work, diegetic sound and natural lighting. Constructing simplicity, Cinéma vérité falsely convinces the audience that they’re directly viewing the film, without the pretence that is conventionally employed in Documentaries. TIMELINE
  8. 8. 1980’s- ‘Mockumentary’Particularly popular in the 1980’s, Mockumentaryis a modern type of Documentary, whichcomedically mirrors the conventions ofDocumentary, and reveals how easy it is to fallunder the façade that they create. This is Spinal Tap (Reiner, 1984) is a Mockmentary which follows a fictional band in a mock Documentary format. The director himself appears in the film, acting as a Documentarian under the name of ‘Marty DeBergi’. TIMELINE
  9. 9. QUESTIONS (click the question to progress) • How has the style of Documentary changed? • How has the target audience changed? • How has the scheduling of Documentary changed? • How has Documentary been changed by propaganda?• How do Documentaries linkwith Convergence?
  10. 10. How has the style ofDocumentary changed?Documentaries now feature more camera movement, and canobjectively aim to question the verisimilitude behindDocumentaries themselves. The topics have been targeted at awider target audience, and as a result have involved more starvehicles. Reality TV is now a form of Documentary that offers avery wide appeal globally, with talent shows such as X Factorhaving national variations (X Factor USA, Australian X Factor).Another change is the way in which the Documentary modes areused. Nanook of the North appeared to use all six of theDocumentary modes, whereas modern Documentaries now seemto only use one or two. CLICK THE X FACTOR LOGO QUESTIONS
  11. 11. How has the target audience changed? Documentaries now mostly focus on targeting a wider audience, rather than a niche group. A lot of Documentaries try to involve contemporary topics or involve a well known celebrity in the current public eye with vague relevance to give wide appeal, rather than have an expert who nobody has heard of. QUESTIONS
  12. 12. How has scheduling inDocumentaries changed?Documentaries only used to be available in cinemas or atfilm festivals. With the arrival of TV, Documentaries havebecome a lot more present in society. In currenttimes, Documentaries are shown in the evening, ratherthan during the day. QUESTIONS
  13. 13. How has Documentary been changed by Propaganda? Propaganda has allowed people to become swayed by Documentaries on a serious level, without it being said to have been intentional. Political views are expressed frequently on Documentaries now. ‘2016: Obama’s America’, which slanders the US President, has become one of the highest grossed Documentaries in the box office. QUESTIONS
  14. 14. Convergence in Modern DocumentariesDocumentaries have now become amethod of converging/promotingfranchises. An example of this is J.KRowling: A Year in The Life (Runcie,2007), which follows the life of J.KRowling as she completes the finalHarry Potter book. The book wasreleased on the 21st of July 2007,and the Documentary was aired inthe UK on the 30th of December2007, which makes it a clever way ofstrengthening her fan base.