Flowing visually in an atmosphere saturated with themes, as free as possible from the subjective, verbal and symbolic, humanitarian issues of various types and spectrum are exposed in the background of the footage, the documentary after the crystallization of its artistic identity in the twenties. . The last century managed to break with the framework of the “false narrative” of fiction, touching and crossing “authentic realism”, because it is a harsh and controversial and sensitive realism, especially if these themes are involved. Secrets, tricks and hidden pressures that place them in the category of “unspoken” or “forced disappearances”, and here the documentary becomes the absolute consciousness of cinema, crossing high and difficult barriers to reveal ambiguous facts and penetrate the veil of secrecy. . , without a doubt, to no avail. There are many tangible and moral sacrifices offered by the film’s director and his team.
Unlike a feature film, the theme of a documentary does not arise from the author’s state of mind or the director’s imagination, but from the expressed sincerity that a documentary work must carry because it comes from the same reality. Without the intervention or imposition of certain conditions often created by the producers of feature films, the documentary managed to rebel against the status quo of “imagination” as the main axis of feature films and short films and as a tool for screenwriters. It borders well visually to combine the mental stories with its virtual and eclectic dimensions. And this rebellion, which the documentary used against fixed cinematic standards, made him a champion of critical feeling in the environments and societies with which he interacted, and illuminated his inherent flaws and hampered his development. In a parallel context, the documentary did not abandon the centrality of the “human essence” in the midst of the fierce struggle between necessity and freedom, marginalization and independence, collective thinking and pure individuality. Societies from time immemorial to the present day.
the beginning of appearance
The visual and cognitive explosion of cinema – if the description is correct – began with the Lumière brothers in France, with their release and primitive camera, the first sparks of the seventh art, which sparked a worldwide obsession with cinematography. . The Lumiere brothers captured the movement of everyday life on the streets of France and the landing gear entering the screen in a moment of extreme surprise that the viewer had never experienced before, a moment that gradually took over the scene despite its temporary buildup. And ancient history! After the explosion of that glorious and fascinating moment, cinema acquired its own independent language and became a penetrating image of time and place, an ideal image that philosophers, poets and dreamers have always found impossible to understand. incarnate. .
In the study of the beginnings of the emergence of documentary cinema and its methods and trends, which were formed later, the researcher “Patricia Overheid” points out that in the twenties of the last century, three people founded documentary cinema and its emergence. Later they spread in international circles: Robert Flaherty, John Grierson and Vudziga Vertov. They were faced with the central question: “When does artistic skill contradict reality and when does it help to represent it?” in different ways to open up more discussions. Both Flaherty and Grierson, with different aspirations, worked to establish realism in documentary, and it is this expressive tradition that creates the illusion of truth in the viewer. So realism was not an attempt to capture a mirror image of reality, but rather a method that art uses to simulate that reality very effectively so that it appeals to the viewer without having to worry about the mechanics of transferring it. it to the screen.
Documentary pioneer Robert Flaherty pioneered this groundbreaking visual work with the 1922 film “Nanook of the North,” about the struggle of man against nature in the Arctic, the story of an Eskimo family struggling to survive. A difficult and stressful living environment. Flaherty is also considered the father of this trend, as he continued to shoot all of his films on original locations about the everyday activities of human societies in environments that presented new historical and geographical discoveries to the public at the time. It didn’t work according to a pre-made model that relied on the power of observation and direct observation.
The third founder of documentary cinema, the revolutionary Russian director Dzhiga Vertov, was a fierce opponent of what in Russia were called non-figurative realist films and defended the true distinctive meaning of “doing life without reflection”. , that improvised and spontaneous moment in the face of reality and the questions that arise in it. With this artistic bent, Vertov was a constant source of inspiration for avant-garde artists and documentaries everywhere. In Italy, he was even inspiring for real moviegoers to use real, non-professional locations in their feature films. Vertov’s dream for the film industry was to emphasize the superiority of “actingless” cinema over representative films and to replace the studio with the arena of life itself. For him, cinema is an excellent way to capture the facts of life, not to deceive people or try to confuse them. Vertov despised what he called “the novelist’s entertainment” and was an avant-garde artist, and it was this identity that accompanied him throughout his creative career.
Researcher Overheide adds that the term “documentary” emerged unexpectedly in the first practical attempts, when pioneers in the late 19th century began to record moving images of real events, as some called “documentary” and others “documentary”. “educational” or “realistic” cinema, while others indicated their main theme, for example: “travel cinema”, “nature cinema” or “social cinema”, depending on their themes or locations.
From the moment that its identity was established, documentary cinema faced great challenges that affect its conception, the purpose of its production and the degree of relationship with the cinematographic market, the public’s desires and the prevailing tastes. This contrasts with the mechanisms of all types of cinema, including documentary itself, which undergoes technical treatments such as editing, mixing and adding visual and sound effects, either to enhance the atmosphere of the actual event in the film or to create a psychological effect. that favors the characters in the documentary Increase the feeling of sympathy or the feeling of attraction and relationship with the topics covered.
Overheide points out in his research that the prevailing concept of documentary filmmaking is that it presents a realistic story and claims to be true. As for how to present this film honestly and in good faith, it’s a never-ending discussion in light of the existence of a great film. A series of responses and possibilities, as documentary defines and redefines over time, whether by filmmakers or audiences, where audience expectations are built by comparing their knowledge of the world and their interest in it and its image. They were screened by the directors, and this audience expects not to be duped and deceived, and this is an audience that expects the facts from the outside world, even if those facts are shocking and therefore not documentary. be pure and original, if it is not devoid of interest, benefit and propaganda, and if it does not examine honesty, accuracy and impartiality in all its details.
100 best documentaries
At the end of the investigation, researcher Overdrade makes available to the reader a hundred great films that serve as a basic reference to identify the standard conditions of documentary cinema and avoid its movement, journey and development. Until the last century, because these films were widely discussed, were the focus of several controversies and were shown on other occasions, they are valuable educational and cultural resources, and some of them have documented major transformations in the world. whether social, economic or political, and much of it has played a role in changing many societies around the world.
These films are: “Nanook of the North – produced in 1922”, “Great Berlin Symphony – 1927”, “Man with a Movie Camera – 1929”, “Night Mail – 1936”, “Mad Lords – 1955”, “The Traveler “. “And Sad and Sad, Don’t Look Back and Tokyo Olympics, are films that were made in the sixties, and in the seventies and beyond, there are important documentaries that lovers of documentation can’t miss, such as: The Sale of the Pentagon” and “The World at War, The Last Waltz, The Garden of Earthly Delights, From Pole to Equator, The Thin Blue Thread, Paris Burns, Africa Shall Ruin Me, Chile: A Stubborn Memory, The Fighter and One Day. I will never forget as long as I live”, ending with contemporary documentaries, which caused much opposition when shown, such as the Davis Guggenheim film “An Inconvenient Truth”, about the negative impact of modern industries on the environment. It is the weather. Just like the films of American director Michael Moore, the first of these is the film “Fahrenheit 9/11”, which has become a cinematic phenomenon, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, and is the second documentary. To win the Do Since Jacques Cousteau’s The Silent World won the award in 1956, Moore broke through at the box office as the first documentary to reach such a large audience in galleries dealing primarily with film and entertainment.
Source: Al Ittihad