Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Overview of the Development of Documnetaries (Henderson)

EDU-115: The Reel World: The Depiction of Schools on Film

Overview of the Development of Documentaries

Documentary: A purposeful, accurate arrangement of existing and/or selected images (which usually includes vocal commentary and/or music) to provide information and a point of view about a particular subject. Some questions to keep in mind:

1. Can we study documentaries strictly as an aesthetic medium?
2. What is the difference between a documentary and a home movie?
3. Do we have to know the social/political context of the time in order to understand documentaries?
4. What is the difference between a documentary and a film based on “actual” events?
5. Can documentaries stage “real” events?
6. Does the documentary filmmaker have any ethical responsibilities?
7. Has the technology democratized documentary filmmaking?

Brief Time Line:

1827: Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833) produced the world’s first permanent photograph.
1839: Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851) announced the latest perfection of the Daguerreotype. Images are “captured.”
1888: Mr. Edison and his new “instrument” (1888).

“Actualities”: Real things in real places:

• Ethnographies (daily life)
• Scenic Views
• Travelogues
• Newsreels
• Propaganda (the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person—not necessarily accurate)


Blacksmith scene (1893)
Sioux Ghost Dance (1894)
Seminar Girls (1897)
Waterfall in the Catskills (1898)
Black Diamond Express (1896)
Arrest in Chinatown (1897)
Images from the Spanish-American War:
U.S. Calvary Supplied Uploading at Tampa, Florida (1898)
Shooting Captured Insurgents (1899)


http://www.nps.gov/archive/edis/edisonia/movies.html (National Park Service website on Edison)

http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/edhtml/edmvhm.html (Library of Congress’s American Memory website on Edison’s films)

http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/sawhtml/sawhome.html (Library of Congress’s American Memory website, “The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures”)

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