Documentary Video:Ideology, Topics & Frameworks

Documentary Video -WEEK 2MH900305796

Ideology, Topics & Frameworks

Documentary discourse & ideology (Marxist Perspective)

-Impression of reality is a constitutive part of the ideology reproduced by documentary.

-Documentary realism works on the basis that the audience accepts the images as a direct reflection of reality (not a mediated construction) without questioning this.

-Documentary discourse produces political assumptions based on:

-facts appear to be self-evident

-argument based on rhetorical persuasion, which masks a specific point of view.

-In documentary films the ideological message is rendered invisible because the documentary discourse is perceived by the audience as just showing the world ‘as it is’ (audience’s faith in its authenticity)

-The impression of reality and the films truth telling capabilities mystify the bourgeois ideology which is built into the cinematic apparatus itself.

-However, more recently the idea of cinema as the product of the apparatus as an all-powerful ‘influencing machine’ against which all resistance is vain has been seen as unsustainable.

Ideology is based on consent (Foucault) and consent to the documentary message is built by an active viewer who understands the truth claiming of the documentary as ‘A’ reading of reality and who verifies the validity of such claim against other documentary accounts and other documentaries he/she has seen. (Intellectual Walks & u.Eco)

Documentary Discourse and Ideology (Postmodern Perspective)

-Moreover, recently the idea of objective truth and the constructiveness of the representation have been increasingly questioned.

-The development of new digital technologies and their ability to manipulate the image has affected the audience’s belief in the truth of the documentary.

Postmodern Rationalistic Epistemology (Noel Carroll)

-Carol maintains documentary’s strong claim to the real.

-Selectivity doesn’t guarantee bias. Selectivity distortion should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

-Even if documentary filmmakers configure even using pre-existing narrative structures (“topological”) derived from fictional texts, these structures should not be seen as distortions of historically occurring sequence of events.

-Narrative Distortion should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

-Distinction between  fiction and non-fiction resides in the Commitments of the texts to the type of inquiry in which the film is engaged (protocols of objectivity, to guarantee fairness and accuracy).

-Through the indexing process the viewers (a savvy spectator) determines what protocol of objectivity are in place.

Postmodern Skepticism (Brian Winston)

-Winston maintains documentary’s claims to the real is out dates

-Skepticism about the possibility of objective standards of rationality.

-The indexing process (of Carroll) can require a knowledge that outgrown the viewers’ ability

Identify & Stereotyping

-Why stereotypes?

-Distortion/reduce complexity

-Entertainment and stereotypes:



-use of ready made types and plots

-Factual programmes  and news?


Cultural & Religious Identity

-Middle East and Muslim religion

-Politics of representation and hegemonic discourse

-the body

-Culture v.s religion

-Diversity v.s homogeneity



Orient and Occident are ideas: are not geographical or cultural entitles, but are man-made concepts that generate from and have produced a tradition of thought and imagery in the west.

-There are cultures and nations in the east; and these realities are not reflected and have correspondence in the general idea which constitutes the Orient as the opposite of the Occident.

-European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient.

-Orientalism is a category of thoughts based upon a distinction between “the Orient” and “The Occupant”.

-Orientalism is a western strategy for dominating, restructuring and having authority over the Orient.

-The relationship between Orient and Occident is a relationship of power and of a complex hegemony: the Orient in its opposition to the Occident is represented as inferior.

-Orientalism is a discourse (Focault): a systematic discipline by which European was able to manage (and produce) the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period (mainly a British, French, Italian and American cultural product).

-Orientalism is a cultural hegemonic discourse based on the traditional ida of European identity as a superior one in comparison with al the non-European peoples and culture (Danny Hay: Idea of Europe).

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