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Battle for Haditha intro
Transcript of Battle for Haditha intro
means ‘dramatised documentary’...
...in other words, an approach to documentary film making that involves a measure of dramatisation. That seems simple enough, but few television forms have provoked more controversy. This is usually over the issue of the mixing of fact and fiction. Yet documentary films have always employed elements of dramatic reconstruction.
Can you think of any examples of documentaries you have seen which have used reconstructions of events?
Why might they employ such methods?
How do you think that documentary filmmakers might justify such methods?
Dramatised documentary is perhaps the dominant way of representing history within popular culture. It is not difficult to see why. When dealing with events where participants are no longer alive, or for whatever reason are reluctant to participate, dramatised reconstruction is a workable solution.
Bloody Sunday (1972) Bloody Sunday (2002) d. Paul Greengrass Alternatively, one might opt for a different approach and that is to make a film which, whilst not based on actual events, is a fictional narrative representative of events, characters and conditions which actually do exist.
In other words, the film is typical of what happens in reality. As with dramatised reconstruction, this kind of film has a long pedigree.
‘Progressive realism’ 'Social realism’
‘Documentary drama’ ...are all terms applied to this kind of film. They are generally (but not always) fictions rooted in contemporary reality. Generally associated with television, this is another documentary-based genre that started in cinema. It was fully developed by the 1940’s and became an important facet of wartime British cinema. A large number of British films of the period were, for all intents and purposes, dramas documentaries, with the explicit intent of representing aspects of live, social reality.
With Humphrey Jennings’ I Was a Fireman (1943) (also known as Fires Were Started) we have something closer to a contemporary idea of dramatised documentary.
Although not based on a particular incident, the film sets out to portray the typical conditions and events that beset the Auxiliary Fires Service of the early 1940s. Jennings used real firemen rather than actors and managed to achieve a convincing sense of authenticity.
Examples are Love on the Dole (1941) and Millions Like Us (1943). The point is to create the illusion of reality. Such films declare, through various realist devices (location shooting, available light, documentary style camera work, etc.), that what is being seen is similar to the actual reality.
John Caughie dramatised documentary films based on actual events documentary drama fiction, but made with a ‘documentary look.’ Foluke Ogunleye (2005) “The drama documentary simulates reality, and is used to analyze current events and issues. Drama documentaries are based on real events, which are derived from in depth research, resulting in believable scenarios…. the docudrama is usually based on historical events, thereby providing an analysis of past proceedings (Free Dictionary) The docudrama is the marriage of two unlikely forms - the documentary and drama. The documentary is a record of factual events. It is the story of ‘something’ or the process of ‘something’. On the other hand, drama is the imitation of life - a contrived story. The docudrama can therefore be described as a hybrid genre”
A documentary which seeks to reconstruct actual events and characters from real life. This will typically be done when actual footage of the events is not available. The use of such fictionalising elements is balances by the use of eye-witness accounts, expert testimony, historical records etc. This lends the approach a greater sense of ‘truth’, ‘realism’ and authenticity.
A documentary which uses some codes and conventions from fictional types of media text.
What conventions would you expect to see in a drama documentary? What conventions can you highlight in these two clips? Touching the Void (2003)
d. Kevin MacDonald The Road to Guantanamo (2006)
d. Michael Winterbottom What can you say about the actors in drama-docs? What can you say about the cinematography/editing in drama-docs?
This is a drama (i.e. fictional) which seeks to add greater weight to its ideological message through the employment of a documentary-type approach. This will typically include borrowing what appear to be some of the codes and conventions of the documentary genre.
These may include for example; POV hand-held camerawork, grainy film stock, black & white images, use of interviews, lack of non-diegetic sound, use of available light. Cathy Come Home (1966) was a drama based on the appalling conditions endured by the homeless in the 1960s. The characters and events were fictional but the circumstances and conditions these fictional characters were seen to endure were typical of what was actually happening in society at the time.
Documentary Drama film released in 2007.
Directed by British Documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield. Shot in Jerash, Jordan bordering Iraq.
Iraqi refugees and American Military personnel played the majority of the roles within the film. No detailed script used. The ‘actors’ improvised most of their dialogue.
Film based on an incident that occurred three months after the battle of Haditha in the Iraq War. Battle between American forces and Ansar al-Sunna.
Based in northern Iraq.
Composed of Sunni, Kurdish and foreign fighters.
Links with al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Claimed responsibility for many suicide bombings in Iraq including the bombings of KDP & PUK (Kurdish political parties) in which 109 people died.
August 1st 2005 six Marine Snipers on the outskirts of Haditha where ambushed by a large insurgent Ansar al-Sunna group who killed 5 of the marines, and kidnapped another.
The sixth marine was paraded on the Ansar al-Sunna website badly beaten and bloodied.
His body was found the next day a few miles from those of the 5 dead marines. Analysis Task to complete whilst watching. 1. How is the mise-en-scene similar/different to fictional films?
2. How could the camera work be seen to be documentary in style?
3. Are the editing and post production techniques different to fictional films?
4. How is sound used to give maximum effect?