#1 Introduction to Documentary

Posted by XIONG XIAOHUI on October 25, 2016

The article provides six types modes of documentary, including Expository, Poetic, Observational, Participatory, Reflexive and Performative. I am interested in reflexive documentary. As Nichols explains that reflexive documentary is “Let’s reflect on how what you see and hear gets you to believe in a particular view of the world”. It is a mode that the processes focus on between filmmaker and viewer. Obviously, reflexive documentary provides chance to audience who get chance to connect with the content of documentary.

According to Nichols, reflexive documentary focuses on the fact and technical details. I found that reflexive documentary explains issues through other people’s talking to show the story, which is authenticity or truthfulness. Also, reflexive documentary tackle issues take from physical, psychological and emotional, and through techniques of evidentiary or editing, character development and narrative structure to show it. It is easy to recognize that the realism of realism, demonstration and modality judge the issue.

To be more specific, reflexive documentary content is self-conscious and self-question, and build by a series of evidence, which is indisputable proof and solemn. It provides viewer to conscious about documentary what it represents, and shift it in level of awareness. Noticeable, reflexive documentary is aim to show fact to viewer, more than add new knowledge. It helps people to understand fact and world.

Besides, I found that the reflexive documentary might be not only about historical, but also provide issue. In reflexive documentary always reflect about both formal and political perspectives. As the example are introduced in the article, Trine use Sur Name Viet Given Name Nam as name for documentary, and via the interview and image to expose the fact and some rule in that time. Trinh want to attract people to assumptions and rethink about documentary. Also, Growing up Female(1971) is an example to represent political perspective, and the film through conventions to expose social issue that women were oppressed and devalorized in that time.

I learned that reflexive documentary build to illustrate the fact to audience, and can be more powerful and responsible for audience, because it is basic on fact and history, and provides truth to audience. I will use this mode for documentary in the further.

References List:

Nichols, B 2010, “How Can We Describe the Observational Participatory, Reflexive, and Performative Modes of Documentary Film?”, Introduction to Documentary, Second Edition Indiana University Press, Bloomington, vol. 23-28.


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