In the introduction of ‘First principles of documentary’, Grierson started to talk about a little bit of documentary’s history. I was surprised that it was first only used for travelogue. Besides, he was saying about ‘different intentions of and different quality of documentary’ and I started thinking about Wiseman’s idea of ‘subjective’. Though Grierson never mentioned about a documentary should be objective or not, I believe that he would agree Wiseman’s idea about ’every films is subjective’ because every documentaries involved ‘intentions’.

Grierson mentioned 3 basic principles of documentary. At first, I didn’t really understand how cinema’s potential could transform a reality to art. As I continued, I found that there was a brilliant example for the first principle – ‘…realist documentary, with its streets and cities and slums and markets and exchanges and factories, has given itself the job of making poetry where no poet has gone before it..‘ . It made me realized that maybe shooting one single subject in the real world cannot be aesthetic and meaningful, but shooting more than one subjects that are related to each other in reality can achieve that since I think it is just like a symphony. For the second and the third, I agree that ’original actors and scenes’ are better than scenes and actor that are managed before the shooting, otherwise the film is not showing how exactly the world is thus this is not documentary because I believe everything in the documentary is naturally happened and so that things in it are real. Moreover, I think that no matter how good the actors acted in the film, the film is still imitating but not showing reality and that cannot achieve ‘an intimacy knowledge’. As a result, it is purely an entertainment.

After proposing the principles, Grierson tried to make readers to understand his points by making many examples of documentary films. However, every time when I read this kind of article, what I need to do is not only to go through the ideas but also need to watch those films to see if Grierson’s points are incisive or not or maybe I have different opinions. One really needs to spend time to understand this kind of article and it makes me start thinking that every persuasive forms, like film and article, which try to express ideas are targeted certain kinds of audience and maybe this is why there are endless objections.

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3 Responses to “Comments on Grierson’s article”

  1.   John Malach Says:

    I agree with you because if there are actors in any movie it cannot be a documentary because then it is not real. To be real it has to be true raw emotion from people not paid to look pretty and be fake. No matter how well someone does with acting it still cannot be a documentary.

  2.   Brad Bujan Says:

    I also agree, the intimacy knowledge as you’ve stated is something that no actor, scene placement of script can reenact. I do disagree on the value of the film being solely for entertainment. Documentaries which recast light on a former event is essentially not real life happening but its to show a shadow of what had occurred during that time.

  3.   Kevin L. Ferguson Says:

    I’m glad you made the connection to Wiseman, and I think I agree. I was also reminded of Eisenstein in your second paragraph (something you’ll definitely notice if you saw the Ruttmann film he mentioned) and how you point out that the “symphony” aspect is what is important, combining multiple subjects that somehow “relate in reality” in a bigger way.

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