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on 20 July 1999
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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on 3 December 2015
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on 21 June 2010
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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