Types of Documentaries

Documentaries are non-fiction films which depict reality or shows real-life events, people and places. Documentaries can be made for various purposes such as for educational purpose, entertainment, to reveal a truth or a mystery.

Bill Nicholas, American theoretician and film critic, in 1991 proposed that there were six types of documentaries each having a unique characteristic which differ from other types. Some may have similar traits but differ in by few different elements. Each documentary requires different cinematography and techniques. The forms of documentary are:

Poetic Documentaries:

Still from the documentary ‘Rain’ (Source: Google)

Poetic documentaries were first recorded in 1920’s. Their attempt is to focus on experience, pictures and shows individuals the world from an alternate range of perspective. They are for the most part free and unique portraying a sort of feeling as opposed to reality. It is individualistic and test in structure. Poetic documentaries have lesser narrative content than others or sometimes doesn’t have any. The Director of photography is regularly approached to catch profoundly formed, outwardly striking pictures that can recount a story without extra verbal setting. Poetic documentaries producers give the viewers an enthusiastic point of view regarding a matter using musical visuals that give a theoretical and abstract translation of the real world. They make an attempt to create the feeling or emotion than revealing the truth. Rain (1929) was a Poetic documentary which left a huge impact on audience for a long time.

Expository Documentaries:

(Source: Google)

Expository documentaries are closest to the concept which most of people call or consider as ‘Documentaries’. They set up a particular perspective or contention about a subject and regularly include “voice of God” style voice-over. It is perhaps the most ideal approach to share a message. Expository documentaries are well researched and make an attempt to depict a strong argument to the viewers and to convince them or try to change their perspective. Expository documentaries use images to support their arguments and claims. It includes the styles of Ken Burns and Television. The Blue Planet (2001) is an example of Expository mode.

Observational Documentaries:

A still from ‘Mother’ (Source: Google)

Observational documentaries centres to observe the world and the environmental factors. It began in the 1960’s with the concoct of compact film gear and instruments. They voiced practically all components of an issue by allowing the audience the chance to dive into the subject’s generally significant and once in a while most close second. In Layman words, these documentaries observe the world around them. Such as Mother (2019) is a character-driven film that permits us to investigate the battles of parenthood and the dissatisfactions of being not able to think about our friends and family.

Participatory Documentaries:

A still from ‘Super size me’ (Source: Google)

Participatory documentaries can be said as mixture of expository and observational documentaries. This mode of documentary includes filmmaker within the narrative. This incorporation can be as minor as a producer utilizing their voice to nudge their subjects with questions or prompts from behind the camera — or as major as a producer straightforwardly impacting the actions of the story. They are also known as Interactive Documentaries, which focuses on direct commitment with subjects and catching genuine passionate reactions and connections. The film maker’s voice can be heard at the rear of the camera, provoking the subjects with different questions. Along these lines, the film maker straightforwardly impacts the pivotal parts of the story. For example, Super size Me (2004) Spurlock’s film follows a 30-day time frame from February 1 to March 2, 2003, during which he ate just McDonald’s food. Film reports this current way of life’s intense impact on Spurlock’s physical and mental prosperity and investigates the fast-food industry’s corporate impact, including how it energizes helpless nourishment for its own benefit.

Reflexive Documentaries:

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Reflexive Documentaries are natural to participatory documentaries such that they additionally involve the film maker with the specific film. Nonetheless, they put forth no attempt to explore an external subject, in contrast to the participatory documentaries. Their point is primarily to focus on themselves. Example of a reflexive documentary is Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends (1998).

Performative Documentaries:

(Source: Google)

Performative Documentaries are a trial mix of styles used to pressure subject insight and offer an enthusiastic reaction with the world. They frequently interface and compare individual records with bigger political or historical issues. It is a special and inventory blend of styles used to share a powerful message to the world just as to weight on subjects with experience. This is often called as “Michael Moore-style” as he uses his own personal stories as an approach to build social facts. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) is an example of performative documentary.

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