Documentary Modes

Although Stella Bruzzi argues that each of the individual modes are often integrated with one another, it is best to deal with them separately in order to understand the extent to which these modes portray reality. Firstly however, it is essential to put the origination of the several modes into context regarding the creation of the documentary genre as a whole.

In the late 19th century moving images of every day life was publicly produced by the Lumiere Brothers. This moment had utmost significance as it was the first time moving image had ever been shown to the public. Moreover, one scene of a train arriving into a station reportedly had the audience yelling for “duck and cover” as they believed that the train was actually entering the theatre. This perhaps suggests that it is possible to capture reality in such a way that is completely realistic and believable; however it should be considered that the awed reaction of the audience can be explained simply by the novelty of moving images. So, in societies where technology continuously and rapidly develops, it was soon realised that in order to maintain the audiences’ attention it was essential to alter and redefine the means of capturing an authentic account of reality. This in turn offers reasoning for the origination of several documentary modes chronological of another, as established by Bill Nichols. i.e. each mode attempts to present reality to the audience in a ‘fresh’ way without distorting it.

The following links will take you to the page dedicated to the each of the seperate modes of documentary. These pages will provide further information regarding the way in which the modes portray reality and offers examples of the extent in which it achieves this.


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