Monday, 17 October 2011

Documentary to Animated Documentary

In our lives we all watched documentaries; some of us love them and other cannot stand them, some find David Attenborough’s voice to be absorbing when others just want to pass out of boredom. In the end we have all seen a documentary, but what is a Documentary? You can say a documentary is a film trying to attempt to document a present or pass reality. The scenes we see are not scripted and the chosen footage will speak for itself or at times rely on a voice-over narration to help the viewer understand. Mostly all documentaries have no actors and interviews are taken by real people.

My personal two favourite documentaries both released in 2008 and one of them some may consider not a documentary at all; Ari Folman’s “Waltz with Bashir” and Werner Herzog “Encounter at the End of the World” are two documentaries that has changed my view in both film and documentary.  Encounter of the End of the World is based on Werner Herzog exploring the Antarctica but not because of global warming or discovering an accent artefact. The documentary focuses on the people who live and work there, capturing striking footage of locations and unreal stories of the people who choose to live “at the End of the World”. Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir is somewhat half animated film and half documentary which is quite odd in a documentary genre. The animated documentary film is based on the 19 year old Ari Folman’s memory on the aftermath of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in the 1982 Lebanon War. Personally Waltz with Bashir has a film like linear narrative structure following Ari attempting to regain his lost memory of the war at the same time teaching us what the 1982 Lebanon War was about.
Lighting Beirut
Both documentaries have remarkable ways of fascinating you. What I liked about Waltz with Bashir is how Ari used his personally experience as a linear structure of the documentary of discovering his traumatised state. As he un-covers more of the massacre by talking to soldiers that was there. When talking to his friend, in a film senses it is a bar scene but in a documentary senses it is an interview, so we as the audience hear the story. Just like a WW2 documentary when interviewing an ex SS Nazi or a US marine we as the audience hear their story. With striking footage, Werner narrates the documentary in a mesmerizing way and entrancing you by not showing you but by bringing you along for the ride. A scene when Werner goes diving with two scientists under the icecaps “I noticed that the divers in their routine were not speaking at all. To me, they were like priests preparing for mass. Those few who have experienced the world under the frozen sky often speaks of it as going down to the cathedral”. I could not but help venerate how Werner illustrated the documentary and that he was not reading a script but reading poetry “Our presence on this planet does not seem to be sustainable. Our technical civilization makes us particularly vulnerable. Human life is part of an endless chain of catastrophes, the demise of the dinosaurs being just one of these events. We seem to be the next.” 

Under the End of the World
I just appreciate how both directors use simple ideas and break through the simply conventional idea of how a documentary should be. With Werner using beautiful opera and his mesmeric voice to hypnotise you I just can’t wait for more of his documentaries and with Ari taking a structure of what is a film but made it into an animated documentary film and taking 4 years in the making of Waltz with Bashir it’s a shame that this film is banned in Lebanon.

No comments:

Post a comment