Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Power Of The Documentary

In America these days, we spend a lot of time in partisan-driven debate. Red states vs. blue states. Poor vs. rich. Liberal vs. Conservative. How we enter into that dialogue is often key to how successfully we solve common--and not so common--problems.

Sometimes, movies get serious, and serve as the catalyst for public debate. Film is a great way to take an analytical look at a problem, or a specific point in history. Often the conclusion the film reaches is less important than the dialogue it creates. Roger & Me is a good example. And so is: Is It True What They Say About Ann? Sure, both flicks have an obvious theme (way too often called an "agenda" by people who don't like or agree with the theme), but the discussion that is generated is ultimately the most important result of documentaries.

Spike Lee's most recent work is a documentary titled When The Levees Broke, which will premier on HBO later in August. It will undoubtedly generate controversy; Lee is considered an iconic genius by some, and vilified by others. But that's beside the point...The examination into why this tragedy occurred is vital to American culture. Regardless of why one thinks such devastation occurred, the fact is we must learn a lesson from it, so it doesn't happen again.

I'm looking forward to the documentary later this month. I hope others watch it too. If you do, come back and tell me what you thought. We'll talk about it. Politely.


jedi jawa said...

I agree about the discussion vs. conclusion thing and think that a good documentary can really inspire. I was somewhat surprised to see that "30 Days" was renewed on FX of all places. While it isn't cutting edge social commentary I think that it does a decent job of being viewpoint neutral and generating discussion in how at least one person in the episode usually is transformed or enlightened in some way by their experience. While some might say that documentaries should be dry recitations of facts rather than viewpoint oriented, that would make them awfully boring to watch, much less discuss.

The Film Geek said...

Jedi, I really liked the show 30 Days, and was glad it was renewed by F/X. I was doubly happy, because I'm always glad to see a fellow West Virginian do well. It does present the material in a way that promotes honest discussion, something we need a lot more of these days.