By J. Chapman
A brand new historical past of British Documentary is the 1st finished review 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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And the reception of drama documentaries such as Death of a Princess, Hillsborough and Bloody Sunday has often been conditioned by similar debates. A cabinet minister – responding to the diplomatic storm between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia over Granada Television’s Death of a Princess – even became involved in the drama-documentary debate, criticizing the ‘formula of mixing fact and ﬁction . . 60 It would seem that there is rather more at stake here than just the issue of factual accuracy.
Will give a direct view of the past’: ‘Perhaps the cinematograph does not give history in its entirety, but at least what it does deliver is incontestable and of absolute truth . . ’ 10 Matuszewski’s claim for the ‘absolute truth’ of the ﬁlmic image may now seem rather naive but it should be borne in mind that, like other early cinematographers, he was seeking to legitimate the young Documentary Before Grierson 21 medium as being something more than a fairground attraction. In fact it is evident that by the turn of the century the ﬁrst ‘fakes’ purporting to be actuality ﬁlm had been made.
Hence the Mitchell and Kenyon collection provides a remarkable visual record of the social history of Edwardian Britain. Low’s premise that Mitchell and Kenyon made little contribution to the development of ﬁlm technique is probably a fair one: the ﬁlms themselves demonstrate little in the way of formal innovation and mostly consist of static takes with occasional panning movements (as the camera rotates on its axis to follow movement) and jump cuts (where the camera stopped turning and then restarted).
A New History of British Documentary by J. Chapman