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Documentary Films - Essay Example

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The documentary is stylistically viewed in terms of being a non-narrative genre of film. In fact, the term documentary is actually a rather broad umbrella term that covers a wide variety of sub-genres, some of which may seem contradictory to each other. For instance, some documentaries strive to present as objective a perspective as possible using a stationary camera and static interviews…
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Documentary Films
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Download file to see previous pages The deliberate and chilling procession by Adolf Hitler's toward his place of honor above and away from everybody else stands as a symbol of his rise from lowly and anonymous soldier to destroyer of worlds. When the madman rise to the stand where his beady eyes survey the glory that has been created to extol his own particular brand of insanity, he becomes far more than just a small town boy made good; he is a god. In keeping with the title of Riefenstahl's account, Hitler in that moment becomes nothing less than the very epitome of the people's triumph of the will. No longer just a single entity, he transforms into a symbol of the German character.
Documentary films come with a built-in advantage that dramatic films lack: audiences have been conditioned to expect that this genre of cinema will accurately reflect reality while presenting substantiated factual materials. Because of this audience expectation, documentaries have long been considered the primary channel for delivering a message. Once America entered into the fray following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States War Department moved quickly to build up motivation among young male audiences to enlist and put their lives on the line. Among the many other award-winning moviemakers who were recruited to make propaganda films was multiple Academy Award winner Frank Capra. His Why We Fight series was instrumental in getting wary Americans to eagerly sign up for what looked to be a long war. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered the first segment of Why We Fight, "Prelude to
War" (Capra, Litvak, 1943) to be shown not only on military bases but also in high schools and even inside churches (Hnicke, 1997, p. 270).
The films of Nazi propagandist Fritz Hippler were shown to audiences around the world, and the infamous The Eternal Jew (Hippler, 1940) is also, unfortunately, entirely representative of the rest of Hippler's demented oeuvre. In fact, it is widely considered to be one of the most hate-filled representations ever put on film. If the documentary form is not necessarily intended to entertain but to inform, then this film is an example of what a documentary film should not be. The only people it could possibly entertain are like-minded anti-Semites and the only information contained within is a glimpse into the evil that allowed the Third Reich to rise to rule. As might be expected in light of the ease with German citizens embraced the terror of Hitler, audiences throughout the country eagerly embraced its portrait of the upcoming annihilation of the Jewish race. Film in the right hands can act to mandate policy and the Nazi documentaries of Fritz Hipper mandated that that genocide would become a national policy (Hoffmann, 1997, p. 173). Jews are bad is a remarkably simplistic idea and political documentaries have proven time and again that nothing is more remarkably effective than flogging a simple idea like a dead horse.
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