I found this article to be so much easier to read and understand than most of the artcles we were assigned to read. I found that Grierson had a certain writing style that made reading this more interesting and easier to understand. With his examples using film and other articles i was able to get a clearer picture of what a documentary could be.
Acccording to Grierson, documentary is “clumsy” and made up of “natural materials”. Using examples of newsreels magazines and films, Grierson believed that these different species represent different forms of obeservations and organization of material. Newsreel items don’t sho as much information and not quite useful because it is basically on useless information. Magazines represent journalistic skill and adopted what Grierson calls Tit-Bits manner of observation. Magazines have an audience but there information goes public once a week and don’t take in consideration of the information.
One of the first principles that Grierson stresses on is that documentary should “photograph the living scene and the living story” instead of acting out true stories. The original story should not be told by actors but by the original people themselves. They are the true interpretation of what the modern world is. ┬áDocumentary films should give a powerful interpretation of what modern world really is without the use of studio sets and actors. Raw material gives the film a finer quality.
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4 Responses to “Grierson on Documentary”

  1.   Beatrice Pana Says:

    I agree with you, I believe this article was different from all the other articles we have been assigned so far in that when I first started reading this one, I understood what his point was. I do not know, maybe it was just because I kind of have the same idea of what a documentary should really be. But it was definitely easier to understand and I think, as opposed to other articles, Grierson made his stance easily recognizable in like the first couple of paragraphs so we would not have to go “digging around” his entire essay just to understand the main point.

  2.   Mathias Kranacher Says:

    I liked your closing paragraph. You explained what Grierson was trying to do perfectly and a lot more clearly then he did. But you kind of lost me right at the end when you said “Documentary films should give a powerful interpretation of what modern world really is without the use of studio sets and actors.” Isnt the point of a documentary to be completely real? Real people in real time? And if that so, then why do you say documenty should interpret? If its real, what to interpret to the audience?

    P.S. Let Me In wasnt as good as I thought it would be. I gunna try and watch the original soon.

  3.   Sinyee Cindy Leung Says:

    I think the reason why some documentaries involved the use of studio or some fancy equipments is that they were trying to make their dicumentaries ‘better’ but they do not understand how documentary actually works and in what way, how it can impress audiences.

  4.   Kevin L. Ferguson Says:

    “The living scene and the living story”– I wonder if that’s something to keep in mind while working on your observational documentaries? How to film a “living story” without knowing exactly how it will end (or maybe that’s done in editing)?

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