5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Not a typical list book. But is original and interesting, 19 Nov. 2007
'BFI Screen Guides' is one of the BFI's better series but the individual books do vary not just in what they're about (everything from westerns to videogames), also their different approaches to the format of '100 films'. Theyre usually more imaginative than other publishers' film guides and this is no exception.
'100 British Documentaries' compromises between listing essential films and list-making to present a more broader or a more personalised view, and if anything leaned more towards this. The choices and opinions sometimes verge on eccentric. I'd only heard of about half the films which in one way makes the book more interesting but a higher quota of recognisable films might have made it more attractive to potential readers. I was a bit surprised by no John Pilger and irritated that neither of Peter Watkins famous films from the sixties (The War Game and Culloden) was included.
So not a typical list book. But, once I grasped what the book is doing I got alot out of it. You cant accuse it of not being eclectic and I got a convincing sense of how broad documentary really is.
Sometimes a bit wordy and there's the odd typo but apart from that very well written - jargon-free but not dumbed down and very passionate about the subject. Lots of information and opinion in quite a short space- not just on the films but social history too.
Biggest criticism is that you want to watch the films at the same time as reading about them and it's not obvious where to find them- although there are websites listed a lot of the films I couldn't find. Some info on DVD and web availability at the bottom of each entry would have helped (even better a DVD with the book). This goes for other volumes in this series too incidentally.
Recommended - 4 stars rather than 5 because it's a bit too individualistic to work as a beginners introduction but the flipside of that is it's quite original and thought provoking.