Cultural theory and Documentary film

Bodies and archives
July 8, 2009, 15:15
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Catherine Russell
”Experimental Ethnography”
Duke University Press Durham and London
”The work of film in the age of video”

In the early days of cinema a lot of ”actuality film” was produced, it could be of parades, shows, any public happening. A narrative story wasn´t needed for the very first years of public cinema.
The actuality movies was the first films within a new technigue of moving pictures. The novelty in itself meant that almost anything could be held for entertainment in the new media.

This essay have a theoretical obsession of the body, I wonder if it could be otherwise, people consists of bodies. And people tend to be interested of what people do. Maybe should we instead be interested in the field of attraction that evolved a great market for commodities of the ”Otherness”.  What is the drive for the great interest in the ”Otherness”? The ”otherness” means people that isn´t like us.
Could we instead understand the film as being processed to suite the ruling nature of the societies storytelling tradition in which the ethnographic film is produced.

People back then  weren´t used to travel around for any longer distances, in the nineteenth century people usually lived in radius of some kilometres to their original dwellings. So actuality movies from the near and far must have evoked a curiosity.

In the abiding ideological environment the established science explained the movies taken and pictures as examples of the white mans supremacy. If you didn ´t know how to react to the other, the supported context told you to consider the indogenous people as happy fellas  that did not have the advanced polish of our own culture.
And such ideas easily set, likewise as they do today, there seem´s to be a general xenophobia in every culture where those who doesn´t behave or look like ”us” is met with suspicion. A suspicion with eases up as people get acquinted with each other.

But for the spectator in the nineteenth century it surely wasn ´t easy to find the sameness with other people as only differences was pointed out in general and repeatedly.
A long way to the song by Canned Heat, in which the lyrics tell about a man travelling all around the world to concede in the refrain ”it´s the same people all over”.

In the hands of exploiting artists old films has been reworked to access more meaning out of the filmmaterial, and to make internal research of material. Also it functions as a commentary of the modern to the material in itself.
The article writes in depth of David Rimmers ”Sheashore” and  ”From the pole to the Equator” by Yervant Giankian and Angela Ricci Lucchi who have worked with the original films by Luca Comerio who shot his films during Mussolinis regime.

Joel Katz ”From archive to archiveology”

Discusses the use of archive films that often appears in televison as a commentary to news.
There is a growing industry that collects films for commercial use and who sells the content to a price that´s is around 2000 dollars per minute. It exists arcival films in publicly owned archives, it exists much footage in private or commercially owned archives thats not archived in any consequent form.