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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Documentary

Let's take a look at some films nominated for the Oscar for best feature-length documentary.

Here's 1943 (circle = winner):


  • Baptism Of Fire - Produced by The United States Army
  • The Battle Of Russia - Produced by The United States Department Of War: Special Service Division
  • Desert Victory - Produced by The British Ministry Of Information
  • For God and Country - Produced by The United States Army: Pictorial Service
  • Report From the Aleutians - Produced by The United States Army: Pictorial Service
  • Silent Village - Produced by The British Ministry Of Information
  • War Department Report - Produced by The United States Office Of
  • Strategic Services: Field Photographic Bureau
  • We've Come a Long, Long Way - Produced by Negro Marches On, Inc.


Here's 1944


  • The Fighting Lady - Produced by The United States Navy
  • Resisting Enemy Interrogation - Produced by The United States Army Air Force


Here's 1945


  • The Last Bomb - Produced by The United States Army Air Force
  • The True Glory - Produced by The Government Of Great Britain, The Government Of the United States


Here's 1974

  • Antonia: A Portrait Of the Woman - Produced by Judy Collins, Jill Godmilow
  • The Challenge‚Ķ A Tribute To Modern Art - Produced by Herbert Kline
  • The 81st Blow - Produced by David Bergman, Jacquot Ehrlich, Haim Gouri
  • Hearts and Minds - Produced by Peter Davis, Bert Schneider
  • The Wild and The Brave - Produced by Eugene S. Jones, Natalie R. Jones


Do you suppose "The Last Bomb" (1945) presents the glory of the USAAF from the perspective of a Japanese noodle vendor who spends the last two hours of his life writhing in the dust, blind, with 3rd degree burns and a crushed pelvis ? Or, do you think it shows how they ended the war in the Pacific with the application of our superior technology and gritty determination, yadayadayada ? Well, of course it's the second one, why would the USAAF make a film about the first? Is one view more accurate and un-biased than the other ? No. A documentary doesn't have to present all sides of the issue, doesn't have to be un-biased, and doesn't have to lack a strong overriding message. In fact, it would be impossible to make such a thing; making any kind of film (or even simply taking a snapshot from your disposable camera) requires that you first choose a subject and then decide how best to present that subject - before you've exposed any film, you've made two editorial decisions both of which will reflect your own personality. You can make an accurate record of your subject, but someone else can make another accurate record of the same subject that looks nothing like what you came up with.

So, did Michael Moore make a documentary or not?

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