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Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film

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Now brought completely up to date, the new edition of this classic work on documentary films and filmmaking surveys the history of the genre from 1895 to the present day. With the myriad social upheavals over the past decade, documentaries have enjoyed an international renaissance; here Barnouw considers the medium in the light of an entirely new political and social clima Now brought completely up to date, the new edition of this classic work on documentary films and filmmaking surveys the history of the genre from 1895 to the present day. With the myriad social upheavals over the past decade, documentaries have enjoyed an international renaissance; here Barnouw considers the medium in the light of an entirely new political and social climate. He examines as well the latest filmmaking technology, and the effects that video cassettes and cable television are having on the production of documentaries. And like the previous editions, Documentary is filled with photographs, many of them rare, collected during the author's travels around the world. Covering the full course of the documentary from Louis Lumiere's first effort to recent landmark productions such as Shoah, this book makes the growing importance of a unique blend of art and reality accessible and understandable to all film lovers.

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Now brought completely up to date, the new edition of this classic work on documentary films and filmmaking surveys the history of the genre from 1895 to the present day. With the myriad social upheavals over the past decade, documentaries have enjoyed an international renaissance; here Barnouw considers the medium in the light of an entirely new political and social clima Now brought completely up to date, the new edition of this classic work on documentary films and filmmaking surveys the history of the genre from 1895 to the present day. With the myriad social upheavals over the past decade, documentaries have enjoyed an international renaissance; here Barnouw considers the medium in the light of an entirely new political and social climate. He examines as well the latest filmmaking technology, and the effects that video cassettes and cable television are having on the production of documentaries. And like the previous editions, Documentary is filled with photographs, many of them rare, collected during the author's travels around the world. Covering the full course of the documentary from Louis Lumiere's first effort to recent landmark productions such as Shoah, this book makes the growing importance of a unique blend of art and reality accessible and understandable to all film lovers.

30 review for Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Cecil

    A few weeks ago a friend ecstatically informed me that Lars Ulrich played Joris Ivens in the HBO film HEMINGWAY AND GELLHORN. An instant look of befuddlement exposed my ignorance of who this Ivens figure was. "You know, Joris Ivens. The Dutch documentary filmmaker. He's one of the most influential figures in film history." I had a sudden urge to shift my ignorance by saying, "Of course, but who is this Lars Ulrich you speak of?" Instead I tucked my cineaste tail between my leg and accepted the d A few weeks ago a friend ecstatically informed me that Lars Ulrich played Joris Ivens in the HBO film HEMINGWAY AND GELLHORN. An instant look of befuddlement exposed my ignorance of who this Ivens figure was. "You know, Joris Ivens. The Dutch documentary filmmaker. He's one of the most influential figures in film history." I had a sudden urge to shift my ignorance by saying, "Of course, but who is this Lars Ulrich you speak of?" Instead I tucked my cineaste tail between my leg and accepted the deserved derisive glare. As he walked away, I immediately decided to bump Erik Barnouw's DOCUMENTARY to the top of my reading list. The few chapters I read for a film history class didn't prepare me for the exquisite depth of this essential work. Barnouw drifts between film analysis, biographies, evolution of technology, shifting movements and trends, while simultaneously offering a world history of political and economic trends of the 20th century Zinn would approve of. His insights on individual films are consistently poetic and enthusiastic. He never wastes time on unworthy films, they are simply left out of the book. The vast amount of research involved is hard to comprehend, Barnow and his wife traveled the globe exploring archives, interviewing filmmakers and participants, scanning scripts and viewing hundreds of documentaries; yet the dramatic narrative feels effortless. The only disappointment is that Barnouw was, tragically, mortal and passed before the Youtube era and the most recent boom in doc popularity, as his insights would continue be revelatory and fascinating.

  2. 4 out of 5

    RC

    Superb. Crystal-clear prose that weaves the development of nonfiction film alongside human history since the late 19th century. Burnouw has an ability to clarify trends and patterns that is bracingly edifying. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever thought about the ability of film (or video) to capture and present reality.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This is a fine survey of the history of documentary. Due to the nature of the text, it is not able to go into much depth, but it will provide you with an overview of all the relevant documentary movements and personalities up until the mid-1980s. While I understand this wasn't the purpose of the book, I do wish Barnouw would have gone beyond focusing mostly on Great Individuals or generic looks at movements and explored industrial, economic, political, etc. impacts on the directions that documen This is a fine survey of the history of documentary. Due to the nature of the text, it is not able to go into much depth, but it will provide you with an overview of all the relevant documentary movements and personalities up until the mid-1980s. While I understand this wasn't the purpose of the book, I do wish Barnouw would have gone beyond focusing mostly on Great Individuals or generic looks at movements and explored industrial, economic, political, etc. impacts on the directions that documentary as a form took (especially pre-sound documentary). There is also a heavy Western focus with non-Western sources mentioned occasionally. That said, a nice introduction to documentary for those unfamiliar.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Siemers

    Good read on documentary filmmaking. Barnouw tends to lean toward any type of documentation being a form of documentary, which doesn't take into account the creative voice of the filmmaker, but a good introduction to documentary. Especially if read side by side with Nichols' Introduction to Documentary.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This is a pretty nice survey of documentary film history. Many people and movements are sort of sparingly touched on and I've got it from a reliable source that some of his information about East European documentary isn't quite right, but nevertheless, survey works cannot do everything and this one does a good job of giving you a feel for the history of something that is quite broad and diverse.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mikey

    Barnouw's book is a very worthy addition to critical film history, and will at the very least give even the most informed reader a quality viewing list. Anyone interested in documentary cinema, its forms, its subgenres, its bastard children, and even the question of what documentary cinema is will find this to be a valuable work.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Inggita

    the ultimate documentary film reference guide. a must-read in Deirdre Boyle's documentary history course - completed with viewing the documentaries mentioned in it. But then again you need Deirdre to tell you the complete stories, Nanook and all.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    This is a good, readable, and well-organized introduction to documentary film. You start to see how the idea of non-fiction film can help you to look at all film in a different way. Documentaries help you to ask, what is being offered here as truth?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    History of documentary films. Great for those starting out that want some basis for how the field has developed. I recommend pausing to look up clips of all the films he discusses, it really helps you visualize what he's trying to convey.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Harlan

    A must have for any documentarian.

  11. 4 out of 5

    James

    A very accessible, readable history of documentaries.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mostadam Eco-Design

    The best gate to non-fiction world and the world through the eyes of a documentarist.. both great for students and for interested people..

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eli

    Epic Manifesto; must read for all documentary filmmakers and or people who like manifestos. Let boil, ferment, then write own manifesto.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tom Newth

    brisk trot through the history. highly readable with apparently sound judgement, such that one would welcome yet more detail.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Adele

    A good overview for one who wants to learn about the history of documentary.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    A great survey of the history of the documentary. Written in an interesting format that divides documentary movements into categories such as "explorer", "advocate", and "guerilla."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Good stuff - fascinating history especially for documentary film lovers like me http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sean Hanley

  19. 4 out of 5

    Allison

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn LaVeglia

  21. 4 out of 5

    Angus Macdonald

  22. 5 out of 5

    Philip

  23. 5 out of 5

    Pantelis Pipergias-Analytis

  24. 5 out of 5

    DC

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Love

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rafael Pajaro - Rafa

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amor

  28. 4 out of 5

    Terry

  29. 5 out of 5

    Teresita Almodovar

  30. 4 out of 5

    FadeToAwesome

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