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Frames of Reference

October 12, 2014

Just as I finished watching Ken Burn’s 14-hour documentary on The Roosevelts, I read Archie Bland’s article on the GoPro camera from the October 3rd edition of The Guardian. In that instant, I went from an old school perception of documentary film to considering a “new school” application which raised a slew of questions about the nature of documentary film today.


Though not a fan of Ken Burns per se, I felt The Roosevelts one of his best docs, made compelling by how he adeptly interwove the dramatic life stories of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor.

At one time, everybody seemed to fancy themselves a critic; now, with our rapidly developing technology, it seems everybody, cell phones or iPads in hand, documents anything and everything that transpires right in front of their noses. And they don’t hesitate to share these personal recorded moments on the net.

Following Chauncey Gardiner’s lead, have we become a society that just “likes to watch?”

Of course, at the advent of the cinema, the Lumière’s did just that, documenting every day occurrences with their new invention.

So, in an age when everyday life is being recorded extensively through the lens of our handheld devices, what actually constitutes a documentary?

Check out Dziga Vertov’s Man With A Movie Camera…



From → Uncategorized

  1. Norman Bloom permalink

    The issue seems to me to be an extension of the whole memoir phenomenon which began a while back. Everyone has a unique life but every one’s story is really not that interesting enough to share with all of us. The same with all the selfies and awful films being released into the atmosphere. First thought, best thought might have been great for The Beats but give the rest of us a break…


    • Thanks – Not everything is a movie, documentary or narrative. And just because any one of us can point a recording device and shoot away doesn’t make them a “film”maker.

      Jack Cracker Jack, the last Beat standing


  2. L. Lee permalink

    without a narrative there is nothing


  3. Beyond narrative, a dramatically compelling narrative.


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