Daily Archives: March 12, 2009

Documentary filmmaker as historian Part II

As a follow up to yesterday’s entry about the documentary filmmaker being a historian, I consulted an actual book. I searched through my hard copy of Theorizing Documentary edited by Michael Renov. (The book can be found on Google Book Search, however page 25 is unavailable.)

Renov writes,

“This is perhaps the most elemental of documentary functions, familiar since the Lumières’ “actualités,” traceable to the photographic antecedent. The emphasis here is on the replication of the historical real, the creation of a second-order reality cut to the measure of our desire – to cheat death, stop time, restore loss… interest lies not so much in recovering time past or in simply chronicling daily life – there is little illusion of a pristine retrieval – as in seizing the opportunity to rework experience at the level of sound and image.”

The documentary filmmaker is a historian and curator for the past and present. Deciding what is worthy of curation, is part of the battle as it is for professional historians.

What is important, as brought up by Jonathan Fein’s “Objects and Memory,”
is that the appropriate objects are chosen to symbolize and represent history. Materials shown in a film, should trigger personal emotion and sentiment to viewers in order to be successful.

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