The Documentary Form And Narrative Cinema Have Impacted And Influenced Each Other

The Documentary Form And Narrative Cinema Have Impacted And Influenced Each Other

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This essay will be looking into the ways that the documentary form and narrative cinema have impacted and influenced each other. The documentary text chosen, Louis Theroux: Behind Bars (2008) depicts the life of prison inmates within America’s infamous San Quentin State Prison. Theroux speaks to serial murderers, gang members, at-risk inmates and guards whilst questioning their sentence alongside their feelings about life within prison. Similarly, the narrative text chosen Carandiru (2003) looks into the life of fictional inmates within the Brazilian Carandiru Penitentiary, a factual prison with its climax based on the 1992 police attack. The film has a strong emphasis on poverty and the realities of underdevelopment, taking influence from Italian Neorealism through the movement of Cinema Novo. With this in mind, this essay will be analysing aspects of social realism in both texts whilst delving into the context and developments of the documentary and narrative form.
The Lumière brothers were considered the fathers of documentary. In 1895 their first film Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory presented the audience with images of everyday life, the title summing up the events of the actuality. Train Pulling into a Station was another significant film of the time and proved to be overwhelming for audiences as they were alarmed and fearful of the projection of the train. The concept was unnatural to them; the essence of realism created elements of shock. Alongside the documentary films, Edison Studios, an American film production organisation, created narrative performances throughout this period. The films made audiences marvel at the ‘life like’ quality of the moving images, presenting ‘the very essence of life itself’, a ‘naturalne...


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... Furthermore, towards the end of the film as the police attacks take place an officer forcefully enters their cell, threatening them both with a gun yet ultimately sparing their lives, allowing them to speculate whether it was because the officer couldn’t kill a woman, the femininity that resonates from Lady Di. Both Louis Theroux: Behind Bars and Carandiru respectfully represent the life of inmates within the prison environment, educating audiences by showing a true reality of the different types of people in the same situation. 'The distinctive characteristic of realism resides in the ambition to, in some way or other, approximate reality, to show things as they really are ' (Hill, 1986: 57). In this instance, Louis Theroux: Behind Bars isn 't a biased text, it doesn 't just focus on the masculinity within a prison notoriously known for its hard earned criminals.

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