Spectatorship & Documentary Revision

THE PROBLEMS WITH SPECTATORSHIP?

  • How far is the spectator challenged by issues of manipulation in documentary film? Refer to the films you have studied for this topic.
  • ‘The complexity of spectator response suggests that documentary offers much more than just a window on some aspect of our world.’ Discuss this statement with reference to the films you have studied for this topic.

My definition:

Spectatorship refers to the dynamic relationship between the active audience, who have expectations that include: generic features, narrative & character development, themes and emotional catharsis, and the film (maker) which can exploit, develop or subvert those expectations through use of macro and micro feature. Thus the meaning of a film is fluid, complex, dynamic and formed in the active reading of the text by the spectator.

CONVENTIONS OF DOCUMENTARY FILMS?

Essays from past papers:

  • Discuss the significance of cinematography and sound in shaping the response of the spectator to the documentary films you have studied for this topic.
  • With reference to the films you have studied for this topic, how far can it be said that different kinds of documentaries offer different kinds of spectator experiences?

Resources

NARRATIVE

  • How far can it be said that narrative is key to the documentary spectator’s engagement with a  film’s themes and ideas?
  • How far is it preferable as a spectator to be presented with a documentary that offers a very definite point of view towards its subject? Refer to the films you have studied for this topic.

Worksheet for Narrative Analysis

CINEMATIC DEVICES (FROM FICTION FILMS)

  • ‘Documentaries make different requirements of the spectator compared with fiction films.’ With reference to the films you have studied for this topic, how far do you agree with this statement?
  • ‘The best documentaries are those which are aware of the need to engage spectators cinematically.’ How far do you agree with this statement?

Worksheet for Textual Analysis

REPRESENTATION

  • ‘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?
  • How far are documentaries more challenging to the spectator because they appear to represent real life characters and situations?

Our textual analysis notes on characters at key moments in The Imposter.

Wider Reading / Research:

On documentary conventions and truth.

On documentary conventions

On Modes of Documentary

Our summary of the key points from key article / videos