I believe Grierson sees documentary as something “real”, and not “forced”. Documentary is natural, without all the extra stuff other genres of film have added to it. I think it is the most basic and honest form of film that we have. According to Grierson, documentary should be regarded to as “one of the higher classes of film” that we have. I completely agree with him in this respect because documentaries usually unveil the cold, hard truth about a subject or matter.

Grierson goes on to compare documentary to “the peace-time newsreel”. The distinction he is trying to make between these two is making a documentary has to be a well thought out process, it is not just done with “a snap of the fingers”. I dont know much about documentaries but I do think that most documentaries have a clear and concise point that is expanded on throughout the whole film.

Grierson later mentions that “The studio films largely ignore the possibility of opening up the screen on the real world.” I completely agree with that statement because most modern films do not really show things as they are in the real world, but rather format them to what they believe the audience would like. I do not think this is a good idea because it is almost as if the filmmakers feed the audience “fantasy” or anything that is not real and some people take it as is because they do not know any better. It feels like the only thing the modern filmmakers care about is having a large audience and appealing to them.

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7 Responses to “Grierson on Documentary”

  1.   Sinyee Cindy Leung Says:

    I really like ‘…documentaries usually unveil the cold, hard truth about a subject or matter.’ because if the fact is nothing different form our imaginaries, we will not never learn something. And I think that is the reason why documentary exists to make people realize what the ‘reality’ is.

  2.   Carlene Faith Says:

    I really like the way you started this. I think that the way you described Grierson’s view on documentary is valid. Its a quite simple way to put the definition of documentary. That it is indeed the “real” stuff. I also like that you pointed out that documentary is a very well thought out process because I think that that’s something a lot of people dont realize but instead they think the film maker just enters a location and shoots. Instead it takes a lot of planning and thought. Overall I really liked what you said.

  3.   Nash Says:

    While Grierson’s view on documentary maybe plausible, he is naive, and maybe hypocritical, in his views of the studio. Studios simply deliver what the audience wants. Why should the studio be at fault? Shouldn’t he blame the audience?

  4.   Brad Bujan Says:

    Though I do agree with your first paragraph it is to an extent due to the last sentence. When you said “it reveals the cold hard truth about a subject or matter” I reverted back to whether a film is subjective or not. No matter how much you try to evict your style or beliefs it still shows through when you are filming. Its all about perspective and sometimes it may be propaganda shown.

  5.   Kevin L. Ferguson Says:

    I was struck by what you said about studios, who “format [films] to what they believe the audience would like.” There seems to be a real antagonism between Grierson’s pure idea of documentary and the way films are made today primarily for economic reasons. Is it even possible to make a “studio documentary”? Wouldn’t the search for the “natural” and the “real” always be distorted by the need for profits and minimizing expenses?

  6.   Stephanie Shiwram Says:

    I agree with how you started out your essay. Documentary should show what is real, it doesn’t show as you said “forced” image of reality. I like how you pointed out that making documentaries is a process rather than being done on the spot. The director doesn’t intend on changing any aspects of what they are shooting but rather planning on what to shoot and how it should be done. I also like your closing paragraph because documentaries are only way of getting true facts and many filmmakers do ruin it in order to gain a wider audience.

  7.   Kevin Prunty Says:

    I completely agree with your first paragraph. I think that documentary is the purest form of film out there. A documentary will go in every grueling detail whether it makes the subject look good or bad. I think that is what makes a documentary interesting to people. It shows what is happening in real life. I’d also like to add that I liked what Carlene said above about how some people think a director of a documentary just starts filming and many people don’t realize that there is alot of planning involved in creating a documentary.

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