January 6, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Drama
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Docudrama The British Tradition

Table of Contents 1) What is ‘docudrama’? 2) The British tradition in docudrama 3) The British docudrama tradition in the 60s

What is docudrama? • A film that re-creates and dramatizes real events, real situation or occurrences in history, often recent history, by blending fact and fiction. • Movies that purport to be factual recreations of newsworthy people or occurrences. • Popular staples in TV in the 60s and 70s.

What is docudrama? • More accurate interpretations of reality than other fiction films • ‘Non-fiction Drama’ (oxymoron) indicates that the docudrama borders on the fields of invention and reality, and of imagination and fact.

The British Tradition • The documentary movement in the 30s led by John Grierson and the war-time documentaries of Humphrey Jennings, Alberto Cavalcanti, Harry Watts, Basil Wright, etc. → Inspirations for the post-war docudrama filmmakers

The British Tradition • Humphrey Jennings (19071950), painter, poet, filmmaker, journalist and historian • Maker of experimental and creative documentaries

The British Tradition • His tightly scripted documentaries blend vérité-like footage with reconstructed and restaged scenes. • This process often blurs the line between documentary and fiction

The British Tradition • Fires Were Started (1943) about a fire unit working through the blitz • Shot during the days of the blitz combining the newsreel and real footage with restaged one.

The British Tradition (in the 60s) • The Dramatised Documentary Group in BBC ⇨ ‘story documentary’ • ‘[we wanted] to stretch reality’ – Ken Loach

The British Tradition (in the 60s) • Peter Watkins (1935-) • Established an innovative style combining a drama acted out ‘real people’ with newsreel techniques

The British Tradition (in the 60s) • Culloden (1964) • A modern TV crew (anachronistic) follows the build-up, the fighting of and the bloody aftermath to the 1764 battle of Culloden.

The British Tradition (in the 60s) • Bold montage, revealing close-ups and hand-held camera deconstruct the myth of the battle and the conventions of costume drama

The British Tradition (in the 60s) • The War Game (1965) • Does not reconstruct but preconstruct the nuclear fallout in southern England. • Juxtaposes interviews, graphics, raw data with staged horrific images

The British Tradition (in the 60s) • What Watkins refers as ‘you are there’ style. • Banned till 1985 but won the special award in Venice and the Oscar for the Best Documentary

The British Tradition (in the 60s) ‘The film is in the guise of a documentary and the action sequences are broken by the commentaries of doctors, psychiatrists, churchmen and strategists. While the presentation seems authoritative, the film is straight propaganda for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.’ Evening Standard, 8 Feb. 1966

The British Tradition (in the 60s) • Ken Loach (1935 - ) • Maker of TV drama turned filmmaker • Realist filmmaker per excellence • Makes a drama like a documentary

The British Tradition (in the 60s)

• Cathy Come Home (1968) • Made for the Wednesday Play • Drama completely made out of the studio and harnessed to documentary techniques

The British Tradition (in the 60s)

• Unknown actors achieve uncanny naturalism through improvisation. • The outcome is as close to documentary as a drama can be.

The British Tradition (contemporary) • Paul Greengrass (1935 - ) • Worked as a director in ITV for World in Action (investigative documentaries) • Co-author of Spycatcher with Peter Wright (former MI5)

The British Tradition (contemporary) • Greengrass moved to TV drama creating The One That Got Away (1996) about SAS in the Gulf War and The Fix (1997) about the fictional story of corruption in football. • The Murder of Stephen Lawrence (1999) the story of a black youth, whose murder was not properly investigated by the police. • Bloody Sunday (2002) about the 1972 massacre of Catholics in Northern Ireland by the British security force.

The British Tradition (contemporary)

• United 93 (2006) - the highjack of the United Airlines Flight 93 • The filmmakers claim that it was produced with ‘full’ support of the families of passengers.

The British Tradition (contemporary)

• Kevin Macdonald (1967 - ) - grandson of Emeric Pressburger and brother of Andrew Macdonald (producer of Trainspotting) • Documentary filmmaker - One Day in September (1999)

The British Tradition (contemporary) • Touching the Void (2003) Joe Simpson and Simon Yates attempted to climb the Peruvian mountain Siula Grande in 1985. They reached the summit but during the descent Simpson fell and broke his leg - and Yates had to make the agonising decision to cut the rope.

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