Cover image for Introduction to documentary
Introduction to documentary
Nichols, Bill.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Bloomington, Ind. : Indiana University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xviii, 223 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995.9.D6 N539 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Introduction to Documentary provides a one-of-a-kind overview of the most important topics and issues in documentary history and criticism. Designed for students in any field that makes use of visual evidence and persuasive strategies, from the law to anthropology, and from history to journalism, this book spells out the distinguishing qualities of documentary. A wide-ranging and freewheeling form of filmmaking, documentary has not yet received a proper, written introduction to its public, or its future makers.Introduction to Documentary is not organised as a history of the form although its examples span a century of filmmaking. Instead, this book offers suggestive answers to basic issues that have stood at the centre ofall debate on documentary from its very beginnings to today. Each chapter takes up a distinct question from "How did documentary filmmaking get started?" to "Why are ethical issues central to documentary?" These questions move through issues of ethics, form, modes, voice, history and politics, among others. A final chapter addresses the question of how to write about documentary in a clear, convincing manner. Introduction to Documentary provides the foundational key to further explorations in this exceptionally vital area of filmmaking today.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

There is a large literature on the scholarship and pedagogy of documentary film, much of it published in the last decade and much of it indebted to Nichols's previous work in the field, notably Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary (CH, Jul'92). Nichols (Univ. of Rochester) organizes the present wonderful book by eight basic questions--for example, "How Do Documentaries Differ from Other Types of Film?" and "What Types of Documentary Are There?"--each answered with clarity, with plenty of examples and visual illustrations drawn from a century of documentary film, and with a degree of sophistication belied by the straightforward, functional prose. Students will appreciate Nichols's fondness for categories (for example, his seven modes of documentary) and will enjoy his instructions for writing about documentary film, embedded in invented student essays on Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North (1922). Although scholars in film studies will find much of the content and analysis familiar, this engaging, thoughtful, accessible, and comprehensive work will stimulate many. An essential volume for libraries and an instant classroom classic, this book is recommended for readers at all levels. W. Graebner SUNY College at Fredonia