When studying Grizzly Man we did some textual analysis in small groups. Which can be found below. But, for your exam it is important that you can talk about multiple scenes and not just be an expert on one.
You should select 3 scenes that you will re-watch and read over the analysis that has been completed so far by both classes.
You should then create your own document and for each of your 3 selected scenes try to include one micro example from each micro feature as well as evidence of at least one documentary convention.
You could do this as a google slides document with a slide for each scene.
You could hand write flashcards & have Grizzly Man Examples with a card for each micro feature or scene.
You could create online flashcards using the google app or an app on your phone (something like Quizlet might work).
Everyone revises in different ways – so you pick what is going to be best for your notes & best to help you learn the information.
Remember the examples are absolutely key to evidencing your ideas/ points & getting in that film specific language. The important thing is that you have a range of specific examples at your finger tips that you can apply to whatever question arises.
What does an audience seek from a documentary film?
Task 2: What are the key issues we are faced with when watching documentaries?
Discuss the key issues as a class and consider how you could debate these in an exam essay. Put your ideas on a post it note & stick to the board.
In small groups develop a hand made poster to consider how the following macro ideas create issues for the spectator in a documentary film. Particularly reflect on ideas of truth & persuasion or the trust in the documentary film maker. Remember to add any macro terms you use to your glossary.
Try to think of those ‘so what’s’ those ‘points’ those elements of ‘significance’ rather than considering the specific examples at this stage. What questions would you ask about these macro elements? What challenges do they present for an audience?
Next Monday you will submit a 750 word essay on The Imposter. Your question will be a choice from the following:
‘When watching documentaries, we are just as involved in narrative and character as we are when watching fiction films.’ Discuss how far this is true in relation to your own studies of documentary spectatorship.
‘For the spectator, the viewing of documentary films is really no different from that of viewing fiction films.’ With reference to the films you have studied for this topic, how far do you agree with this view?
For your essays it is crucial that you have MICRO evidence from specific moments in the films.
In pairs or 3s you will be analysing one of the following sequences from The Imposter:
Missing Boy: 00:00:16 – 00:05:30
No Other Way: 00:27:20 – 00:30:54
Going to School: 01:02:00 – 01:08:00
They Killed Him: 01:08:00 – 01:14:30
Frederic Bourdin: 01:17:00 – 01:22:08
Digging: 01:27:24 – 01:31:45
Remember in your analysis you need to consider micro features & specific terms:
Remember also to reflect on Bourdin as the central focus of the film’s narrative and the spectator’s relationship with him. His role as protagonist or antagonist and how we as a spectator respond differently to him at different moments within the film. Remember Layton’s overarching intention in this film:
“He invites sympathy. He has this childlike quality about him, and he can be very charming. And at other times he can be quite repellent, because he can be remorseless and you’re reminded about what he did. So as a filmmaker, I was asking, How can I find a way of getting the audience to experience a bit of that?”
These are the questions we considered before watching the film in class. How can you develop your answers and include them in essay format? You could use some of these questions as part of your plan for your mini essay. (In 750 words you won’t be able to answer them all!)
What documentary conventions is Layton using to tell this story?
What genre does Layton borrow conventions from in order to tell this story?
What is Layton’s agenda?
What is The Imposter a documentary about?
Is it about a missing child and a ‘whodunnit’ style mystery?
Now that we have finished watching and making notes on Grizzly Man we need to think about how we can apply this to an essay in the style that would be required in the exam.
The question you will be answering is:
In what ways might Grizzly Man (2005) Herzog be described as, ‘fabrication, imagination and stylization’?
As ever the assessment criteria are TEAS:
Terms – think micro terms, macro terms AND documentary specific terminology such has modes of documentary, different types of spectator positioning and documentary conventions.
Examples – detailed micro evidence from specific moments in the film – it is not enough to say ‘Herzog uses narration’ – pick a specific moment when he does and give detail.
Analysis – what does this mean? how is the example constructing meaning for an audience – how does it represent the ‘characters’ / information? how are the audience invited to respond?
Significance – Link it back to some of those big issues / debates we have discussed about documentary and spectatorship.
First off you need to complete a textual analysis of two sequences from the film with particular reference to sound and editing. In pairs you will consider one sequence in which Herzog makes his point of view known in the voice over.
What was Herzog’s agenda or intention in making the documentary?
Do we think the film is a truthful representation of the subject matter?
Complete this document with your initial ideas on the codes and conventions of Grizzly Man as a documentary as well as initial understanding of spectatorship.
Research the term Cinema Verite
When studying Grizzly Man as a documentary it is essential to understand the type of film maker that Herzog is and his views on the genre. Werner Herzog is one of the most influential and important documentary makers alive today.
Read his declarations of truth and fact in documentary cinema, entitled…
‘Lessons of Darkness’
By dint of declaration the so-called Cinema Verité is devoid of verité. It reaches a merely superficial truth, the truth of accountants.
One well-known representative of Cinema Verité declared publicly that truth can be easily found by taking a camera and trying to be honest. He resembles the night watchman at the Supreme Court who resents the amount of written law and legal procedures. “For me,” he says, “there should be only one single law; the bad guys should go to jail.”
Unfortunately, he is part right, for most of the many, much of the time.
Cinema Verité confounds fact and truth, and thus plows only stones. And yet, facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.
Fact creates norms, and truth illumination.
There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.
Filmmakers of Cinema Verité resemble tourists who take pictures of ancient ruins of facts.
Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.
Each year at springtime scores of people on snowmobiles crash through the melting ice on the lakes of Minnesota and drown. Pressure is mounting on the new governor to pass a protective law. He, a former wrestler and bodyguard, has the only sage answer to this: “You can’t legislate stupidity.”
The gauntlet is hereby thrown down.
The moon is dull. Mother Nature doesn’t call, doesn’t speak to you, although a glacier eventually farts. And don’t you listen to the Song of Life?
We ought to be grateful that the Universe out there knows no smile.
Life in the oceans must be sheer hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of hell that during evolution some species—including man—crawled, fled onto some small continents of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue.
His fifth point is highlighted because here he makes an important distinction between fact and truth in documentary films?
In what way does this particular declaration inform his film making in Grizzly Man?
Please complete one of these essays as your final submission on spectatorship & documentary.
You should write approximately 1,000 – 1,200 words and should refer to at least two of the documentaries we have studied for this unit in depth.
What are some of the pleasures that viewing a documentary film offer the spectator?
‘For the spectator, identification with certain characters is crucial to the viewing experience of documentary films.’ With reference to the films you have studied for this topic, how far do you agree with this view?
‘The best documentaries are those which are aware of the need to engage spectators cinematically.’ How far do you agree with this statement?
‘Documentaries should never be trusted.’ How important to the spectator is the sense that they should trust the documentary filmmaker? Refer to the films you have studied for this topic.
Compare two or more approaches to documentary film-making and discuss which you feel has the greater impact on the spectator.
Discuss the significance of cinematography and sound in shaping the response of the spectator to the documentary films you have studied for this topic.