We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Personally I have never been averse to the use of reconstruction, generic archive footage, still photographs, or whatever techniques exist or we can create for ourselves as film makers so that we can become better story tellers, but the unbreakable rule must surely be that the audience MUST always know what it is they are seeing, at least when it comes to documentary. I know that there is no such thing as objective truth, particularly when it comes to film-making, but if audiences are being tricked without their knowledge, and worse still, when the film makers themselves are unable to distinguish between fact, fiction and distortion, what chance will they or future generations have of being able to disinter even a semblance of truth about what happened?
Huh? If the guy is hopeless about facts and truth, why does he bother worrying, and why doesn't he simply call his own stuff "fiction"? This guy is an exemplar of the pomo notion of "narrative." I guess nobody killed the police officer, or maybe the chocolate shake did it - probably the same chocolate shake that shot JFK.
Al Gore, Michael Moore, Oliver Stone: all fully-conscious propagandists seeking to mess up the minds of the ignorant for their own purposes. Malignant people, clever but not wise.
Huh is right. If there is no objective truth then there are no facts, just opinions. So the only choices of a documentary filmaker is to portray his version of the truth, with the facts as he or she see's them, which amounts to nothing more than commemtary. I know at many colleges it is now taught that true documentaries don't exist because objectivity is impossible. The fruits of postmodernism.
"Huh? If the guy is hopeless about facts and truth, why does he bother worrying, and why doesn't he simply call his own stuff "fiction"?"
Well, as someone who has done a fair amount of investigative reporting (and a miniscule amount of documentary-making), I can relate. It is not possible for human beings to be completely objective, and ironically the harder we try, the more we come to understand that. Conversely, the LESS we are concerned about objectivity, the easier it seems to slap the word "documentary" on something that is really "propaganda".
"Al Gore, Michael Moore, Oliver Stone: all fully-conscious propagandists seeking to mess up the minds of the ignorant for their own purposes."
I suspect those are the kinds of people the author has in mind, yes. This is a real problem for serious documentary makers, actually. People used to be more or less willing to suspend their natural cynicism when presented with a "documentary". Now, thanks to Moore and others, "documentary" is just a mask for, as you say, "propaganda". And that devalues and undermines the work of filmmakers who are really struggling to go after truth.
'Are those polar ice caps really melting? How do we know that's really unusual? Is this interview all there really is to this story, or is it completely out of context?' That's what audiences think now, not wanting to get sucked in to the documentary-maker's world. Nothing is real, nothing is honest, nothing is believable. Might as well make a fictional film, since we live in a world where no one trusts anyone or anything.
"I know at many colleges it is now taught that true documentaries don't exist because objectivity is impossible. The fruits of postmodernism."
Indeed. You know, when Edward R. Morrow showed up on the TV, people use to think, "Here comes the truth about (whatever)". Same with Mike Wallace in his early days. Check out these interviews from the 50's:
You get a sense, when watching these, that Wallace felt some responsibility about getting his facts straight. People were counting on him. (The irony is that he was STILL misleading them - check out the heavy sell re smoking. Wallace didn't know about cancer, of course, but he DID know it was an addictive product. So, see how we compartmentalize our 'honesty' for our own convenience.)
Those days are gone, audiences have lost their innocence. Trust is like virginity... no matter what you try, you really don't get it back.
Regarding objectivity, it depends upon if you are using a set of facts (often a partial set, the sin of omission) to reach a predetermined conclusion or if you thoroughly research the subject and draw conclusions accordingly. Of course, this means that one must be willing to suspend preliminary opinions or conclusions that are not supported by the totality of the facts.
These days require everyone to check the facts and be skeptical about what one hears.
Yeah, I gave the filmmaker a pass on that one. He is nodding to the standard film-crowd axiom that there is no complete objectivity, but i think he's using it as a contrast, i.e. "There may not be absolute objectivity, but good God man, we've got to have something."
Assistant Village Idiot
Think so too. Problem is, today, people assume that if they see it, it's true.
I saw a movie awhile back called Voices of Iraq. The film makers handed out 150 video recorders to people all over Iraq and let them record anything that they wanted. There was no commentary or narration. In the beginning I thought that it was going to be anti-war propaganda, but it turned out that the people that were so anti-America were from the Sunni area's around Bagdad. It turned out to be an objective look at the people of Iraq. I suppose the objectivity could have been tampered with in the editing process, but from my subjective perspective it seemed quite objective.