To be honest, in general, most of people hardly have an objective position; even in the documentary. In other words, the documentary filmmakers usually consider and make a documentary from his or her subjective opinion. Joris Ivens, the director of the documentary The Spanish Earth, claimed that “a documentary filmmaker has to have an opinion on such vital issues as fascism or anti-fascism – he has to have feelings about these issues, if his work is to have any dramatic or emotional or art value” (Imagining Reality, p. 138). Maybe some questions will appear in our brains; why a documentary impossible has an objective position? Why the audiences confuse with the documentary and the propaganda film?
It is undeniable that the documentary plays a significant role in the propaganda field. A directly reason is the tendentious documentaries are made under the control of the government. For example, Triumph of the Will, which a documentary and propaganda film made by Leni Riefenstahl in 1935. Actually, the film was commissioned by Adolf Hitler, so his name appeared in the opening titles. And then Hitler gained a high prestige due to the huge success of the film.
Moreover, the documentary has a powerful purposiveness, which usually displays the director’s subjective opinion, as well as his or her filmmaking philosophy, approach and style. However, the directors often like to hide his or her subjective opinion as an objective opinion to spread in his or her works. For instance, the filmmaker, Michael Moore, hides the true instead of some untruth facts to prove his opinion in the documentary film, Fahrenheit 9/11. This is not the only example; actually, most of the filmmakers follow their opinions to highlight some points in the documentary, to edit the documentary from their understanding, to allow the shooting source roll in their ways.
From another perspective, more and more the documentary filmmakers create their projects in order to earn much money. In other words, a documentary is not only to real record an archive, but also create a big benefit for the filmmaker. Shut Up and Sing, which directed by documentary filmmaker, Barbara Kopple. She followed the music band, Dixie Chicks, and recorded their music, and their political stand on the Iraq War. However, the information “might make the film’s message seem a bit less credible”. Likewise, Riefenstahl has a large budget for her Triumph of the Will; furthermore, Hitler made the extensive preparations for the documentary.
Do I mean all the documentary films are subjectivity? No! From my point of view, many nature documentaries are regarded as objectivity documentaries. For instance, the Discovery channel, and BBC Documentary channel made a lot of series of nature documentary films, such as “Planet Earth”, “The Magical Forest”, and so on.
A documentary filmmaker makes a documentary at his or her stand; the world under the camera lens only belongs to the filmmaker. So the audiences can understand why most of documentaries are unable to create a real objective. However, how about the audience? Do they have an objectivity position to watch the documentaries? The answer is worth to be discussed.
Wikipedia, Triumph of the Will, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triumph_of_the_Will
Website Information I, http://documentaries.about.com/od/documentarydirectors/tp/Documentary-Director-Interviews-Exclusives.htm
Website Information II, http://documentaries.about.com/od/introtodocumentaries/a/docintro.htm
Wikipedia, Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shut_Up_&_Sing