By J. Chapman
A brand new historical past of British Documentary is the 1st accomplished assessment of documentary construction in Britain from early movie to the current day. It covers either the movie and tv industries and demonstrates how documentary perform has tailored to altering institutional and ideological contexts.
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Extra info for A New History of British Documentary
In 1924 – no doubt inﬂuenced to some extent by the critical acclaim heaped upon Flaherty’s Nanook of the North – he released the feature ﬁlm The Great White Silence. This is essentially a travelogue, showing the outward journey of Scott’s expedition on the Terra Nova and including much footage of seals and penguins in their natural habitats as well as some breathtaking shots of the Antarctic landscape. The Great White Silence might be seen as an attempt to counter the criticisms of Scott’s preparation by emphasizing the scientiﬁc purpose of the expedition and presenting the attempt to reach the South Pole as a coda illustrated through maps and extracts from Scott’s journals.
Another characteristic of early non-ﬁction ﬁlm is its obsession with travel and, especially, with new forms of transport. The ﬁrst batch of ﬁlms offered by the Warwick Trading Company in 1898 included numerous examples of a genre known as ‘phantom rides’ – ﬁlms shot from the front of a moving vehicle such as a train or a tram, which create an impression of movement. 13 The most important ﬁgure in the history of early British non-ﬁction ﬁlm was Charles Urban. Urban was an American-born salesman who had developed a projector known as the Bioscope, which reduced the distraction of the ‘ﬂicker’ effect.
At a time when the formal distinction between documentary and newsreel had yet to be institutionalized, the Mitchell and Kenyon ﬁlms can be seen to anticipate both modes. On the one hand the ﬁlms of topical events are akin to the sort of items that would become a prominent feature of newsreels. Hence there are ﬁlms of visiting dignatories (Lord Roberts’ Visit to Manchester, 1901), royals (Visit of HRH Princess Louise to Blackburn, 1905) and military parades (The Return of the Lancaster Volunteers, 1901) as well as many dozens of football and rugby matches.
A New History of British Documentary by J. Chapman