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December 1997, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 11 Dec 1997 11:02:40 -0600
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It seems that many documentaries contain shots which are either not what
they purport to be, or which have been altered for dramatic effect.
A couple of examples:
1. Footage of a World War I bombardment which is accompanied by a sound
track containing explosions. Since newsreel sound technology did not
exist in 1914-1918, the explosions must have been added.
2. A documentary on the history of the 1920's which uses black and white
footage from gangster films such as Little Ceasar while discussing the
rise and fall of Al Capone.
In both cases the inaccuracies added to the interest of the
documentaries. Both were true in the sense that WWI bombardments caused
explosions, and Capone's gangsters did use machine guns, etc. But it is
also true that these enhancing devices were not indentified as such.
Hence my questions:
How accurate should a documentary be? Who decides how much "poetic
license" is permissible?
Thanks for your thoughts.
Peter Latham
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