Cinematic essay documentary
The existence of this form arguably dates back to the birth of the documentary, but certainly encompasses more recent endeavors like Errol Morris' investigative work, the experimental features of Chris Marker, and the political exposes of Michael Moore.
The image and sound captured at the time of filming offer one facet of reality; it is only with this lateral move outside that reality that the future reality it conceals can speak. The essay film, however, has proved even more peripatetic: where noir was formulated from the films of a determinate historical period no matter that the temporal goalposts are continually shiftedthe essay film is resolutely unfixed in time; it has its choice of forebears.
He manages to break free several times before being wrestled to the ground; if only for one brief, utopian moment, an entirely different history of race in the UK is opened up. F for Fake Orson Welles, Those who insist it was all downhill for Orson Welles after Citizen Kane would do well to take a close look at this film made more than three decades later, in its own idiosyncratic way a masterpiece just as innovative as his better-known feature debut. And as such it was method rather than material that was the pathway to truth. This is the nation: one of fearful people in dire need of control over their one chance of getting it right. Against the momentous political backdrop, otherwise routine, everyday activities are ascribed new profundity as the Welsh miner Geronwy, Alan the farmer, Bill the railway engineer and Peter the convalescent fighter pilot go about their daily business. Of course, some people actually live there too. Against the seamless, immersive illusionism of commercial cinema, montage was a key for decrypting those social forces, both overt and hidden, that govern human society. Why was La Morte Rouge not on any map? The message is clear, even if it has not been heeded by history.
Fidelity to the authentic — whether the accurate representation of historical events or the documentary flavouring of Eisensteinian typage — was important only insomuch as it provided the filmmaker with another tool to reach a considerably higher plane of reality.
And what if more movies were better and more useful, helping us see our world for what it is? Mankiewicz had been the real creative force behind Kane.
Cinematic essay documentary
The nimble movements and multi-angled perspectives of the essay film are founded on this negotiation between active choice and passive possession; on the recognition that even the keenest insight pales in the face of an ultimate unknowability. The waves of post-war immigration are charted in the stories told both by a dominant and frequently repressive televisual narrative and, importantly, by migrants themselves. Occasionally the filmmakers remind us of the sea, the birds, the wind in the trees but mostly they contrast people: the rich play tennis, the poor boules; the rich have tea, the poor gamble in the then squalid streets of the Old Town. Until the recent growth in digital technology, which has decreased the financial burden associated with the cost of film stock and other aspects of production, essayistic cinema was mostly created by professional filmmakers, who approach thesis-driven arguments through a visual medium to achieve what documentary pioneer John Grierson described as 'the creative treatment of actuality' Winston, Night Mail What this domesticated dynamism and retrograde pursuit of high-cultural bona fides achieved, however, was to mingle a newfound cinematic language montage with a traditionally literary one narration ; and, despite the salutes to state-oriented communality, to re-introduce the individual, idiosyncratic voice as the vehicle of meaning — as the mediating intelligence that connects the viewer to the images viewed. Handsworth Songs is no straightforward attempt to provide answers as to why the riots happened; instead, using archive film spliced with made and found footage of the events and the media and popular reaction to them, it creates a poetic sense of context. The effectiveness of a work of art is built on a dual unity: the penetration of sensual thinking into consciousness by means of the structure of the form. The other key inheritance the essay film received from the classical montage tradition, perhaps inevitably, was a progressive spirit, however variously defined. Blakesley , David Abstract The cinematic essay, also known as the essay film, is an extension of the documentary genre which replaces the impossible task of objectivity with a more subjective, argumentative approach. Against the momentous political backdrop, otherwise routine, everyday activities are ascribed new profundity as the Welsh miner Geronwy, Alan the farmer, Bill the railway engineer and Peter the convalescent fighter pilot go about their daily business. Instead Jennings invites us quietly to observe the nuances of everyday life as Britain enters the final chapter of the war. And what of her expression of compassionate concern?
It is, of course, with the seminal post-war collaborations between Marker and Alain Resnais that the essay film proper emerges. Scenes are depicted in completely different color gels.
Progressive vs radical The Grierson ian documentary movement in Britain neutered the political and aesthetic radicalism of its more dynamic model in favour of paternalistic progressivism founded on conformity, class complacency and snobbery towards its own medium.
The message is clear, even if it has not been heeded by history.
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