/ TV documentaries that don't dumb down?
Nothing dumbed down but nothing that needs a doctorate to even get beyond the titles.
Thoroughly enjoyed the various Wonders of:
These are not TV documentaries, they are "feature" documentaries that played in cinemas:
Into the Abyss. Werner Herzog interviews various people involved in and affected by a triple homicide; the whole film serves as more general study of capital punishment. It is objective and non-judgemental - i.e. the film maker does not let his own opinions come through. It is stunning - some parts are very moving. Some are almost hilarious too.
Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World and Lessons of Darkness are other great docs from Herzog. He is German but these are all in English.
Horizon series - any subject - is usually very good
Adam Curtis' documentaries are remarkable.
The last I saw was "All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace" about computers and stuff and was superb, as is "The Power of Nightmares" (about Al Quaida and stuff) and "The Century of the Self" (about pyschology, advertising and stuff).
Don't expect a normal documentary, but do expect something fascinating and brilliant.
Ken Burns documentary on the American civil war is the best documentary on anything by anyone ever.
His documentary "Jazz-the story of American music" was also very good.
Interesting (having seen 'Lincoln') - how would one find this?
what was this on (Beeb2?)
The Shock of the New didn't appear dumbed down to me, but IANAAH.
> Interesting (having seen 'Lincoln') - how would one find this?
I've never found it "free" on the internet. You tube had it removed so I think I tunes or Amazon are the only options. It's 9 episodes.
This is the introduction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN2huQB-DmE
This is a bit on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCXUbQ4JjXI on the Gettysburg address.
There are no actors dressed up in uniforms pretending to be vast armies etc. Burns simply uses contemporary photos, documents, a narrative voiceover and leading historians to analyse. Shelby Foote (the bearded guy in the Gettysburg clip above) is a magnificent raconteur around who the whole thing revolves. Documents are often letters tracking soldiers, the great and the humble, from their ordinary roots through the grim years of war to their deaths or return home.
It's fun recognising the actors doing voiceovers for the letters: "shit, that's Al pacino...Morgan Freeman.." or whoever.
> Adam Curtis' documentaries are remarkable.
> agreed - I'm not always convinced by the lines of argument which often aren't particularly clear and wander to suit the various points he wants to make, but they're generally fairly captivating.
Mr Curtis has a habit of expressing his view of the world in a voice-over with a deeply authoritative tone, making it sound a bit like fact until you digest what he's actually saying.
That made my brain hurt. :(
I don't know who to believe any more.
The classic documentary series is "The World at War", possibly as authorative as TV gets.
The Ascent of Man
I find modern Horizon programmes to be dumbed down compared to those of the 1970s but it may be that I'm brighter! (or have rose tinted glasses)
Any Jonathan Meades series is well worth it - on culture & architecture rather than science. His take on mundane subjects is refreshing and often quite funny. Plus he's a master of the incongruous - e.g. doing a piece to camera while smoking a fag, dressed in a long black greatcoat while walking along a hot Mediteranean beach.
> Any Jonathan Meades series is well worth it - on culture & architecture rather than science. His take on mundane subjects is refreshing and often quite funny. Plus he's a master of the incongruous - e.g. doing a piece to camera while smoking a fag, dressed in a long black greatcoat while walking along a hot Mediteranean beach.
Yes. You have to watch it a bit with him, particularly regarding history and politics, but the fact that he's inspired me to go off and read up on a subject so that I can find out enough about it to disagree with him properly isn't something I'd say about many documentarists.
Thanks for reminding me about Meades. Funny bloke. Is he still alive?
Yep, just done another documentary for BBC4 'The Joy of Essex'. Not seen it unfortunately.
There was a time when he appeared doomed by his lifestyle but he lost 1/3rd his bodyweight after giving up the Times food correspondent junket.
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