Module Identifier TF32910  
Module Title THE DOCUMENTARY TRADITION, 1920-1970  
Academic Year 2004/2005  
Co-ordinator Dr Jamie Medhurst  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite TF10210 , TF10420  
Course delivery Lecture   30 Hours Lectures will incorporate viewings  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Essay: 2 x 2,500 word essays (50% each) For information on due dates for submission of assessed work, please refer to the departmental web pages at 100%

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.


Issues of historiography and documentary theory
Documentary Pioneers I: Flaherty
Documentary Pioneers II: Riefenstahl
The British Movement I: Grierson
The British Movement II: Jennings
Documentary as Observer I: Free Cinema
Documentary as Observer II: Direct Cinema and Cinema Verite
Documentary on Television

British Documentary
Documentary as reality


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.

Reading Lists

** Essential Reading
Renov, Michael (1993) Theorizing Documentary Routledge
Winston, Brian (1995) Claiming the Real: the documentary film revisited BFI
Barnouw, Eric (1993) Documentary: a history of the non-fiction film OUP
Aitken, Ian (ed.) (1998) The Documentary Film Movement: an anthology Edinburgh University Press
Macdonald, Kevin, & Cousins, Mark (1996) Imagining Reality: the Faber book of documentary Faber
Nicholls, Bill (1991) Representing Reality: issues and concepts in documentary Indiana University Press
Gillespie, David (2000) Early Soviet Cinema: innovation, ideology and propaganda Wallflower
Elton + Anstey Housing Problems
Karel Reisz We are the Lambeth Boys
Dziga Vertov Man with a Movie Camera
John Grierson Night Mail; Drifters;
Lindsay Anderson Every Day Except Christmas, O! Dreamland
Humphrey Jennings Silent Village and Fires Were Started; Listen to Britain
Riefenstahl, L Triumph of the Will
Robert Flaherty Nanook of the North and Man of Aran
Cavalcanti, Alberto Coalface
Watkins The War Game


This module is at CQFW Level 6