“Representing Actuality – the Essence of Documentaries”

Posted by on Dec 16 2011 | Content Writing, SEO Copywriting

You say ‘enough is enough’ after being too often bombarded with repetitive content in television. Sugar coated and spiced up to please those age-old hunger for entertainment; movies, soap operas and other television content queue up to grab your eyeballs. It is quite surprising to see that people still enjoy the screening of events which have the least possibility to occur in the real world. Mentioning Bollywood won’t be a surprise for all of you. Although, the Indian film industry is witnessing a major transformation in looking at filming of relevant issues from a different perspective. Talking about Hollywood, the usual entertainment quotient (which has always been a winning combination to draw maximum mint) has also undergone a major shift with rapid changes in the socio-political scenario of the world.

‘Lights, Camera, Roll and Action…..” and the story of a human mind’s framed vision starts taking shape. There are paid actors and other crew members of the venture who toil out hard to carve out a perfect entertainment package. But have you ever wondered about the hard work that is often associated while capturing the stunning sequences of wild chases between leopards and deer amidst the wilderness of Amazon in Africa? These depictions have real characters and real settings and are shot with extreme precision and character. Its reality, but it too has subjective aspects to it. The normal perception of believing things when they are real is often reinforced in making documentaries. It is often referred to as ‘representation of actuality’. The crucial aspect of representation varies from person to person and can be molded with varying requirements.

In its earlier days, documentaries were conceptualized as single-shot events, like a train entering a station or a ship docking etc. Most of these films were less than a minute long due to technological setbacks. Few years later, there were full length documentaries which were shown in theatres. In 1922, Robert J. Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North” sparked off the tradition of making full-fledged documentaries. Latter, there were city documentaries like “Berlin, Symphony of a City” by Walter Ruttman, Dziga Vertov’s “Man with the Movie Camera” and Alberto Cavalcanti’s “Rien que les Heures”. Dziga Vertov is often regarded as the pioneer of the “Kino-Pravda” or the “Soviet Kino-Pravda” movement which literally meant “cinematic truth”. By 1940s, documentaries with propagandist theme started coming up. Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will (1935)” is still regarded as one of the most notorious propagandist documentaries of all time. This documentary was funded by the Adolf Hitler himself. Then came the documentaries focused on a special technique called ‘Cinema Verite’. Here, the subject’s movement was depicted by the movement of the camera itself.

Today, a number of techniques have been adopted from all the above methods of making a documentary. Many more experiments are being performed in order to garner maximum popularity for this particular genre of filmmaking. Premiere Box Office analysts have observed that films like “Fahrenheit 9/11”, “Super Size Me”, “Food”, “Inc.”, “Earth”, “March of the Penguins”, “Religulous”, “An Inconvenient Truth” are some of the most successful and popular documentaries till date. The style and concept is now being amalgamated with fictional representation also in order to give a new meaning and shape to the art of filmmaking. Films like “Hurtlocker” and “District 9” have proved today, there is a thin line between fiction and non-fiction which has helped in raising the bar of intelligence viewership.


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