To make a short (5 minute maximum) documentary about the origins of the Cold War.
The documentary must be firmly rooted in one of
two historiographical traditions: Orthodox or Revisionist.
The documentary must use certain prescribed
film-making techniques and four prescribed pieces of archive film
Students will work in
groups of 3 or 4 to produce the content and edit of the film.
We begin this activity by viewing a careful selection of different
documentaries, with the purpose of identifying different documentary
film-making techniques: voice-over, talking heads, interviews with historian, dramatic reconstruction, archive footage, animated
graphics, mood music, etc.
My initial stimulus material is a 'rare archive
film' of Hitler in New York after his initial successes during WWII.
What are the key techniques use by the film makers
in this scene?
Example 2 - Ireland: A Television History
How many different documentary techniques have been
used? The narrator is largely unseen, why is this important? The archive
footage is hardly commented on, but what meaning does it convey?
Ireland - A Television History
Bob Ferguson's interpretation
Example 3 - Stalin and the USSR
How many techniques are used in this clip?
historians important participants?
Why do you think they agree to be
Why donít they film historians in a studio?
Why is the graphic a
powerful visual aid? Is it reliable?
How do the historians contributions
compare or contrast to what they might have written about events they
Example 4 - The assassination of Franz Ferdinand
In what ways is it
different to the earlier 1980 documentary you saw about Ireland?
Why is it different?
What techniques have they borrowed from Hollywood
Is this still a documentary?
If it is a documentary, then what is the
difference between cinema with an historical theme and historical
Your documentary will include the following film
making techniques: Exposition, Voice-of-God commentary and/or on screen
dialogue, Expert historian(s) with appropriate contextual signifiers
Archive images Four prescribed film clips edited as appropriate In
addition the film may also include a dramatic reconstruction element
As the exposition is perhaps an unfamiliar
aspect of the film-making process, you should complete
this activity in
your groups before you begin.
Prescribed archive films Join the Vimeo website to be able to download these for editing.