Module Identifier TF32910  
Module Title THE DOCUMENTARY TRADITION, 1920-1970  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Mr Jamie Medhurst  
Semester Semester 2  
Pre-Requisite TF10210 , TF10420 Please note this module is not available, because of overlap, to students who have taken Documentary Analysis in 2000-1  
Course delivery Lecture   15 Hours + Viewing Sessions  
Assessment Essay   2 x 2,500 word essays (50% each)   100%  


The aims of this module are to introduce students to the critical discourse relating to documentary film analysis and to consider how documentary film developed during the period under consideration as a mode of cultural expression an political propaganda. The module also aims to study the ways in which technological developments during the period influenced the pro-filmic and changed the nature of documentary film.

Learning Outcomes:

Typically, upon completion of this module a student will be able:
- To demonstrate an intelligent awareness of debates about documentary film and documentary film movements between 1920 and 1970.
- To critically evaluate models of documentary theory.
- To critically apply models of documentary theory to the texts under consideration.
- To show an analytical understanding of a range of filmic texts.


1. Historical overview
2. Documentary theory
3. Documentary Pioneers I: Vertov
4. Documentary Pioneers II: Flaherty
5. The British Movement I: Grierson
6. The British Movement II: Jennings
7. Documentary as Propaganda: Riefenstahl
8. Documentary as Observer I: Free Cinema
9. Documentary as Observer II: Direct Cinema and Cinema Verite
10. Documentary as Observer III: Paul Watson

Reading Lists

** Essential Reading
Aitken, Ian (ed.). (1998) The Documentary Film Movement: an anthology. Edinburgh University Press
Barnouw, Eric. (1993) Documentary: a history of the non-fiction film. OUP
Gillespie, David. (2000) Early Soviet Cinema: innovation, ideology and propaganda. Wallflower
Nicholls, Bill. (1991) Representing Reality: issues and concepts in documentary. Indiana University Press
Winston, Brian. (1995) Claiming the Real: the documentary film revisited. BFI
Renov, Michael. (1993) Theorizing Documentary. Routledge
Macdonald, Kevin, & Cousins, Mark. (1996) Imagining Reality: the Faber book of documentary. Faber
Humphrey Jennings. Silent Village and Fires Were Started.
Robert Flaherty. Nanook of the North and Man of Aran.
Essential viewing:.
John Grierson. Night Mail.
Dziga Vertov. Man with a Movie Camera.
Leni Riefenstahl. Triumph of the Will and Olympia.
Lindsay Anderson. Every Day Except Christmas and O! Dreamland.
Jean Rouch. Chronique d'un Ete (Chronicle of a Summer).
Don Pennebaker. Monterey Pop and Don't Look Back.
Paul Watson. The Family.
Addintional readings (including journal articles) will be made available via lectures.