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Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film [Paperback]

Erik Barnouw
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Sep 1993
, which broke all audience records for Public Television in 1990.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; 3 edition (23 Sep 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195078985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195078985
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.6 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"This is the best historical overview of that major genre termed 'Documentary' or 'Non-fiction." --Edward S. Small, Phd., University of Kansas"Nothing compares, still." --Amy Villarejo, Cornell University"A reasonably priced introduction to a major area of film making which is all too often left in the shadow of drama. It is both thorough and readable." --Fred Caffney, South Kent College"First rate history--well written, with a coherent and constant focus on the power of the documentary film." --Tom Mullin, Eastern Washington University"The best in its field. I have used the first edition for almost twenty years to great effect. Barnouw is a masterful text writer." --Robert J. Allen, Seton Hall University"This is the basic book for anybody who wants to be a documentary filmmaker. Very good!" --Aleksander Mandis, New York University"A concise, accurate and indispensable book for any lover of documentary film. An indispensable reference and a worthy text for any course on the subject." --Lynne Jackson, St. Francis College"The best general history of documentary available. Concise, yet wide ranging and erudite. A valuable classroom text." --Michael Griffin, University of MinnesotaPraise for Previous Editions "A helpful antidote to the spirit....It presents sign posts to where documentary could be and where it may emerge. Barnouw's style has a clarity and precision that make his books delights to read." --Film Quarterly"The whole panorama has been richly researched and compactly organized into easy prose by Barnouw, writing at the peak of his competence." --Variety"Erik Barnouw puts film history in the mainstream of human history as few others have done before. He reminds us of the powers of film to instruct, exhilarate, excite and deceive, and shows how these powers have been used in our time." --Daniel J. Boorstin"Provides students with a foundation of knowledge from which they can

About the Author

Erik Barnouw, now retired, was Chief of the Library of Congress's Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division, and long headed Columbia University's film division. His books include the prize-winning three-volume History of Broadcasting in the United States, Tube of Plenty, The Sponsor, and The Magician and the Cinema.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The inventors of cinema, who were legion, included diverse showmen, and others with interests far from showmanship. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essential text on documentary cinema 20 July 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Not only is this a wonderful documentary film history text, it is also extremely well-written. Barnouw is a wonderful storyteller and knows his subject perhaps better than anyone.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great read, but not so great as a study guide 21 Jun 2010
By Tashina
Format:Paperback
Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film
Although this is book is well-written, rich with context and pleasant to read, it is also a little too saturated with biographical detail about the individual filmmakers. Central figures and more marginal filmmakers are sometimes treated with the same amount of attention making it hard to determine the key figures of a certain style. It is also not a comprehensive history as it doesn't stretch further than the early 1990's and spends more than half it's pages on the period 1920-1945. As a study guide for film or journalism students I find that there are better books on the market to beat it. As a book for those wanting to know more about the context and times of the early documentaries this is an excellent read. If you like to delve deep into the details of documentarists private lives (who did they marry?, what was their father's profession?, where did they go to school?) or if you want to know how Eskimos in a remote northern part of 1920's Canada were able to assemble and disassemble cameras at a heartbeat this is the book for you!
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Introduction to the World of Non-Fiction Films 5 July 2000
By DCromwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I know that when you see a book receive the five star rating you think that the person reviewing is either tender-hearted or an ignoramus as it is inconceivable to think of a perfect book. However, since I am neither tender-hearted nor an ignoramus I give you my word that Barnouw's book is an amazing reference guide to the world of non-fiction films. Its an incredibly quick read, it took me a matter of days despite a hectic schedule, and though a lot of names and movies come flying at you they are easy to access and remember. So if you know nothing about documentaries you can quickly become knowledgeable by reading this book and then know what films you should seek after. The book traces non-fiction films all the way from the early experiments of Muybridge and the actualities of Lumiere all the way up to the 1990s. It divides the films not by region but by their respective genre and in the order they emerged. Then in the final chapter, "Movement," it carries documentaries up into our days and explains what's going on and where it's headed. Again, though you wished Barnouw could have delved even deeper into certain aspects, or become more localized as this is mostly a globalized look, you realize that this book is only the stepping stone into a whole new world. Barnouw is merely opening the door and inviting us to enter.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is it! 24 Jun 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Barnbouw has taken a wealth of creativity and almost a century of filmmaking and not only made it manageable but intensely relevant and interesting, His breakdown of the various movements throughout the history of the documentary film is right on and remarkable. The research included in this masterpiece is unmatchable in other writings on the documentary. Filmmakers and non-filmakers alike need to read this book. It is a history lesson on a all too often over looked art.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essential text on documentary cinema 20 July 1999
By Robert Jordan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Not only is this a wonderful documentary film history text, it is also extremely well-written. Barnouw is a wonderful storyteller and knows his subject perhaps better than anyone.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Learning Guide 15 Sep 2000
By David Pickup - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you are interested in Documentary Film, this is a great introduction to the genre. Barnouw brings you through history with ease and enjoyment. I found it extremely satisfactory; definitely not a disappointment.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have for all documentary filmmaking aficionados!! 20 Dec 2012
By Jonathan Kugel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Must have for all documentary filmmaking aficionados!! Like the bible of documentary filmmaking, very well written, very interesting. Recommended to all filmmaker, journalist and wannabes!!
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