When I first picked up and began to read Grierson on Documentary, due to its initial length I thought it would be boring. In fact it was quite the opposite. This article was well thought out and written, while being quite informative at the same time. Grierson uses well, clearly explained, and thought out examples of movies so the reader understands them better (as opposed to other articles where no description of the film is provided).

Grierson touches base with a very influential documentary maker named Flaherty, and explains his rules for making a correct documentary. How a documentary must master its material on the spot, and his film must follow “him in his distinction between description and drama”(Grierson p.103). To me this means that Flaherty puts himself into the shoes of the people he makes the documentary about. He lives their lives and customs to hep make his film closer to the real thing than ever before. I personally find this very awesome that one would possibly put himself through hell, to understand what its like to live in another mans shoes. Its one thing to see a film and to make a film and be like wow dose life suck for these people. Its an entirely different, and bolder concept to live the film you’re making.

Grierson then goes on to mention another set of principals you could use to create documentary. These I am not personally fond of. He talks about documentarian Basil Wright, and his use of movement to create a documentary. Grierson goes on to say that although Wright’s work is seemingly monotonous, he dose something special to it to make it original. Now to me using different camera angles doesn’t seem as interesting as a person living out their documentary, but at the same time only being shown written examples dose not permit me to play judge. I’ve never seen either Wright’s films or Flaherty’s films so I’m not going to go into a tirade about how one is better than the other and so on and so fourth.

Overall I think it was a good informative read, that made sense and got across its point to its readers with more ease than some of the other articles we have read.

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6 Responses to “Documentary Explorations”

  1.   Carlene Faith Says:

    When I read over your response to Grierson i completely agreed with what you had to say. Like you i felt like the thing that stuck out the most to me was the fact that he spoke of film maker Flaherty. I think that best documentaries are those made from people actually stepping into the situation that they are showing. I feel like they come out with a much better and more real documentary. Like you and Grierson i feel like its much more brave to step in someones footsteps instead of just make a critical documentary on something you’ve never experienced.

  2.   IJ Says:

    I also love documentaries that show the director putting himself through hell. Bad example, but I was reminded of ‘Super-Size Me’. Even worse example, ‘Jackass’ (Imdb actually has it listed as Documentary). But, I also like the type of movies that Wright makes. One movie that comes to mind is ‘Baraka’, you should check it out. (By the way, you should also check out ‘Super-High Me’, it’s like ‘Super-Size Me’ but instead of Mcdonalds, it’s weed.)

  3.   Nash Says:

    I like the comment “Its one thing to see a film and to make a film and be like wow dose life suck for these people. Its an entirely different, and bolder concept to live the film you’re making.” But i like it for the wrong reason though. Anyways, i really feel that a director who puts himself into a documentary is trying to influence the outcome of the documentary to his ideology, hence, being biased. Just referencing Ikey’s example of Super Size Me, i felt the director clearly had an agenda against the fast food corporation, and in a desperate way to prove a point, embedded himself into the documentary in a blatant attempt to brainwash the audience with filthy propaganda. Hence, people would sympathize with him. But smart, intelligent people would see through this. McDonald’s does not make people fat, eating too much makes people fat. His documentary did not reference anything about daily exercise or any of the nutritional items at McDonalds. Instead, it focused on him eating tons of high calorie foods many times per day. Clearly biased. This is just comparing Super Size Me to Grierson’s essay. I think these jokers ought to stop blabbering about what a documentary is or should be. Because there is no way a documentary could be made with relation Grierson’s convoluted theory.

  4.   Nash Says:

    with relation to Grierson’s convoluted theory**

  5.   Kevin L. Ferguson Says:

    Flaherty gets a lot of flak today because people found out some of the documentary scenes were actually staged. The Nanook wikipedia page mentions a little of this.

  6.   Kevin Prunty Says:

    I also got the same feeling that you and Carlene picked up on about him speaking about Flaherty and making a point of focusing on him. I feel like that is the way to make a documentary not by taking things that you have heard about but by actually living it. Writing this i can’t help but think of the show “World of Jenks” and how he lives with the person he is filming and gets the full effect of their struggle and their life. It makes it so much more interesting and makes it so much more real because it is real.

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