‘Moonage Daydream’ and nine experimental documentaries that defy genre conventions

‘Moonage Daydream’ and nine experimental documentaries that defy genre conventions

Most documentaries feature familiar tropes that anyone who watches a handful of them will notice. In telling historical or non-fictional stories, archival footage, interviews with Talking His Head, narration, montages set to music, and visual aids such as graphs and statistics are often used throughout. . I have no problem doing this for most documentaries. The combination of these tools often works well when it comes to bringing real people and their stories to the screen.

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Note, however, that not all documentaries rely on these tools to tell their stories. Below are examples of less common documentaries that use familiar documentary tropes sparingly or not at all. Not all of them are necessarily experimental, but they demonstrate the versatility of the documentary genre and provide examples of how to present documentaries in unexpected and unconventional ways.

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“Life of Crime: 1984-2020” (2021)

Life of Crime_ 1984-2020 - 2021

Similar to movies like Boyhood (not documentary) or something like that Up series, A lifetime of crime: 1984-2020 Shot over the years. In this case, the time of interest is right there in the title. Some scenes were filmed way back in his 1980s, with the documentary’s final scene taking place in 2020.

Using old footage shot in previous films, the current crime of life Series, but also new material, filmmakers John Alpert Depicts the turbulent lives of three people living in New Jersey. They sometimes engage in non-violent street crime, fall into and out of drug addiction, all captured in stunningly intimate detail. It’s a harrowing and very sad watch, but powerful because it’s ultimately empathetic.

“The Beatles: Get Back” (2021)

The Beatles_ Get Back - 2021

peter jackson gave to fans the beatles A great gift for 2021 in a mini series The Beatles: Get BackA vastly expanded version of the largely forgotten 1970 documentary, let it beafter covering The Beatles working on the album Let It Be, played their final concert on a rooftop for the unsuspecting public.

return We’ve remastered this old footage and built an eight-hour miniseries, as opposed to the 1970 film, which ran for about 80 minutes. It aims to take a close look at the artists engaged in the creative process, and is at times tedious and repetitive, but at times thrilling. , return It doesn’t use narration or interviews, it tells the story visually with occasional on-screen text to provide context.

“Moonage Daydream” (2022)

david bowie moonage daydream
Image via NEON

A dizzying journey that can hardly be called a documentary, moon age daydream Obscure, tumultuous, mysterious, yet ultimately offering a personal perspective on life and psyche. David BowieFew documentaries feel as psychological as this, exploring what made Bowie such a great artist, trying to uncover the real people behind every persona he adopted throughout his nearly 50-year career. is not.

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moon age daydream There are few easy answers to who David Bowie was, but they may be the closest you’ll get to understanding his mind. It’s a strange but immersive documentary that features only archival footage and interviews, no narration, no new interviews, and very little text explaining what you’re seeing. It’s also unraveled in a way that isn’t strictly chronological, so it’s not just a documentary telling his story of Bowie’s life. But it does a great job of celebrating his art and showing why he was so important to the world of entertainment.

“The Cat” (2016)


Most documentaries focus on humans and their human problems, cat Defy convention by being all about cats. Explore Istanbul and its large Stay Cats. Some cats interact with humans, while others lead more independent lives.

I interviewed a few people throughout, but the documentary is really about cats themselves (“catAfter all, it means cat in Turkish. It offers an unobtrusive and compelling glimpse into their lives, presenting the world from their perspective, primarily through its unique camerawork and overall presentation.

“Lessons of Darkness” (1992)

Dark Lessons - 1992

Werner Herzog During his decades-long career, he has produced many documentaries. Most of them make use of quite a few documentary tropes, and his documentaries are usually unconventional due to their unconventional subject matter, awe-inspiring visuals, and esoteric narration/commentary from Herzog himself. Stand out.

lesson in darkness With all this, it can be identified as a Herzog documentary, but with fewer documentary violations than most of his other films. It presents things visually and has very little commentary. This makes for an unforgettable and effectively dark documentary viewing experience.

“78/52” (2017)

78_52 - 2017 78/52

more than a presentation 78/52 It makes for a unique documentary about the art of filmmaking. Most well-known filmmaking documentaries focus on a single film or a director’s body of work. 78/52 Narrows the scope of analyzing and decomposing just one scene.

That scene is the infamous shower sequence. Psychotakes up just a few minutes of screen time, but was so groundbreaking and complex that a 91-minute documentary was made. Psycho Also Alfred Hitchcockis a must-see and certainly a novelty among other documentaries about cinema.

“The Witch” (1922)

Haksan: Timeless Magic 1922

Despite being released over a century ago, few have been released since. witch it is comparable. This Swedish silent film about timeless witchcraft is part horror film, documentary and period piece, combining unexpected genre and stylistic decisions to create a film like no other.

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By modern standards, watching a documentary that is also a silent film is unique enough, given the technical limitations that automatically preclude the possibility of hearing narration or interviews. is used witch A one-of-a-kind documentary experience and one of the most iconic films of the silent era.

“Tokyo Olympics” (1965)

Tokyo Olympics - 1965

Given the large number of broadcasts every four years, it’s not uncommon to see footage of the Olympics. Thus, superficially Tokyo Olympics Considering it was intended to be a documentary covering various sporting events at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, it doesn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary.

That’s how events are captured Tokyo Olympics wonderful. Over nearly three hours, countless sports are captured in stunning detail, enhanced by excellent cinematography and expert use of slow-motion (the marathon is particularly impressive). A surprisingly well-made documentary that showcases and undoubtedly mythologizes some of 1964’s most talented athletes, so you’ll need to be a big sports fan to appreciate the spectacle offered here. there is no.

“The Amazing Jonathan Documentary” (2019)

The Great Jonathan Documentary - 2019

A comedy documentary that will make your heart beat faster, Amazing Jonathan Documentary It’s hard to summarize.It follows a magician named amazing jonathan As he embarks on his final tour, he plays pranks on those who come to see him, the filmmakers who follow him, and the viewers who watch documentaries about him.

It’s impossible to know what’s real and what’s misguided, and ultimately, the people behind the camera are just as willing to deceive their audience as Amazing Jonathan himself. While some viewers may find such a deceptive documentary irritating, others find the unpredictable ride it offers thrilling and entertaining. You will feel

“Call” (1982)

Features of Koya Aniscut

It’s hard to come up with a better experimental documentary than this KoyaniskatsiWith no dialogue, no interviews, no narration, it depicts life in the 20th century at a harrowingly awe-inspiring level of detail. Through its stunning visuals and wonderful music, it argues that humanity’s need to balance itself with nature, and that the speed of our tech-heavy lives is moving us ever further out of harmony with the world we live in. I’m here.

It might sound crazy and pretentious, but it’s very well-paced, impactful, and absolutely well done. For those who have burned out on documentaries with more traditional presentations and want to see what else the genre has to offer, Koyaniskatsi A perfect starting point.

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