Defining "Documentary" Continued:  Nanook of the North


Review:  What are the basic functions of documentary?

--represents reality—records; provides evidence; asserts truth claims


 In light of the Rodney King video, is it fair to say that documentary films present facts?




1.  Nanook as a "definitive" documentary

          --first influential doc.—why?

          --first doc. w/a recognizable doc. Style

          --first that has an important, extended relationship to the reality that it represents—the “real world” is the film’s primary subject


          --“timelessness”—why? What is the source of this sense of timelessness in the film?


          --exemplifies a “romantic tradition” in documentary (emphasis on nature)—what are the film’s arguments about nature?



2.  Flaherty and Nanook


--Flaherty (a Michigander)—son of mine owner/manager—raised close to nature

--went on 4 expeditions to east Hudson Bay















3.  Readings:  Ellis, Chapt. 1

--modes of presentation: 

--"documentary" characteristics:  subjects; viewpoint; purpose; form; production approach; audience response

--Flaherty and the "romantic tradition"

--Flaherty compared to Grierson?

--sources (traditions) for documentary?


Ellis, Chapt. 2

--Nanook as a sponsored film—effect?

--structure in Nanook?

--conflict(s) in the film?

--arguments in the film?


Nichols, “Introduction”

--why is the distinction important between “the world” and “a world”?


--Nichols uses the word “fidelity” here—what is at stake?


Has Flaherty been true to “the world” that he set out to document?