Bill Nichols in ‘Introduction to Documentary’ notes six types of modes ofdocumentary. 1.Expository 2.Poetic 3.Observational 4.Participatory 5.Per formative 6.Reflexive
This mode is often referred to as the hypothetical voice of God, often portraying astrong view and talking directly to the viewer trying to persuade them. It is oftenobjective and often using a strong male voiceover to give that almost omniscient feelto the documentary. A good example of the expository mode of documentary would be nature documentaries etc. An example of this would be The Living Planet - The Frozen World, David Attenborough
The poetic mode, reallycame about in the 1920s, Poetic documentaries are subjective as each person willmost poetic documentaries take something different, they are creative and abstractdo not follow a structured with the use of diegetic and non diegetic music just nonarrative with main voiceovers.characters and sub plots etc.It’s main focus is on imagery A good example of this would the poeticof a personal feeling of the documentary/film Baraka, a film with no voiceovers justdirector or representation of the sound of nature and non-diegetic music match thesomething, sacrificing content shown in the feature, it is very subjective andcertain sensations such as abstract and in some aspect making you question our rolesound creating spatial in the world and exploring a wide range of themes.juxtaposition from simplyfilming and editing.
This mode is essentially a window on the world, this A good example of this would be mysort of mode has little or no interaction from the big fat gypsy wedding channel 4, asproducer, mainly staying behind the camera ignored there is constant narration, howeverby the surrounding, essentially acting as an impartial there is no direct contact from thespectator. Giving a glimpse of the objective reality, it filmmaker or camera crew providingattempts to capture society as accurately as possible. that conventional objective reality perception of gypsies. Another example would be What Katie did Next.
This mode is the opposite of : “The filmmaker steps out from behind the cloak of voice-overthe observational style of commentary, steps away from poetic meditation, steps down from adocumentary as it promotes fly-on-the-wall perch, and becomes a social actor (almost) like anydirect engagement. This other. (Almost like any other because the filmmaker retains themode suggests that it is camera, and with it, a certain degree of potential power and controlimpossible for a group of over events.)”people not to be affected by Nichols:http://www.godnose.co.uk/downloads/alevel/documentary/Dothe awareness of a camera, c%20Modes%20nichols.pdfthe filmmaker becomes part Emphasis on the interaction between filmmaker and subject. Anof the events being example of this would be Ross Kemp in Afghanistanrecorded.
This mode challenges things to an The art of making pictures of this new mechanical work andextent, oppositional and it to is part of the film which literally points in the film beingsubjective. It acknowledges the constructed. The mode constructs its own reality. A goodconstructed nature of the example of this would be For example Louis Theroux - Adocumentary, conveying to Place for Paedophiles, he discusses the many views of this sopeople that what is shown may called clinic to rehabilitate paedophiles.not be true, therefore suggestingthat all documentaries are non Reflective documentaries tend to be the trustworthy, as theyfiction to an extent. always focus on realism, and to try to show things exactly as they happen, without editing or special effects. However, as the film maker narrates and addresses the audience specifically, viewers opinions are swayed by those of the documentary makers.
This mode documentary This mode emphasizes the emotional and socialemphasizes the subjective nature impact on the audience, good examples for thisof the documentarian as well as would be Supervise Me Morgan Spurlock.acknowledging the subjectivity of Arguably, films by Michael Moore.the audience, notions ofobjectivity are replaced by affect. This mode emphasizes the emotional and social impact on the audience. An example of this would be An Inconvenient Truth, The Science of Global Warming.
Additional information taken from the following websites: http://www.slideshare.net/cheffernan/reflexive-documentarieshttp://condor.depaul.edu/dtudor/DOCUMENTARY%20MODES.htmhttp://www.godnose.co.uk/downloads/alevel/documentary/Doc%20Modes%20nichols.pdf