I love documentaries. The good ones that is, not the history channel promo infested sensationalist mock-drama documentaries.
A good documentary is done by someone who loves what he is talking about. Actually this is what I am trying to do in these articles, share the love. And in a good documentary you can feel it, you can feel when someone is interested; you see it in their eyes, the pupils dilated, like a person in love.
The problem with these people is that in real life I would probably not have the patience to sit and hear a glorious rant about the subject for an hour. As an obsessive person I know how it goes. When it is edited in short segments, and spread across many specialists and consultants, I can live with it, and it is charming.
There is only two rules you need to keep in order not to fall into the 'documentary trap', a single phase above small talk, with superficial semi-truths and generalized information from unclear sources, because there is nothing worse than someone who knows what he knows from TV documentaries.
Rule number one – everyone is an expert. Everyone has a lot of strange letters in front and behind his name. Everyone looks very official with a nice bookcase in the back, and of course everyone wrote a book about it. (he invented everything in the book, without any reference or peer judgment., and out of the forty three copies that were sold, forty one were for immediate family, but he wrote a book about it.)
The wise thing to do is to Google the person as a start. You will be surprised what hilarious results you will find. It's fun seeing who people really are. I usually watch the documentaries on the other monitor while I work, so it is almost an automated move to pause the video and Google for two minutes. Again, do it, hilarious. Especially with anything that has to do with "ancient cultures" or semi scientific new age mambo jumbo.
Rule number two – documentaries are introductions.
First dates. They are an amazing gateway to more knowledge; they spark ideas, open new ways of thinking. Don’t look at them as the lesson, but as an appetizer for the subject. Again, Google will give you all the rest of resources you will need. Buy a book, search for another tangent documentary about a branch of an idea they were talking about, Wikipedia the inventor to read a sentence or two more about his background.
It is already understood that education is changing, and now it is the real interactive process that is the way to knowledge, a true paradigm shift, no more classrooms , no more blackboards and homework. For me, a good documentary is like sitting in a really good lectures. You know the ones I am talking about, the ones where you actually come out smarter, entertained, and with a new found respect both for the teacher, but mainly for the subject.
Here are a couple of my favorite documentaries. But first, the series I was addicted to as a child, and that helped start this obsession;
Connections – if there was ever a science program that was created by people with ADD and was for people with ADD It was connections. With his haunting sideburns, whatshisname used to lead us through such a complex bizarre maze of connotations and loose ideological and philosophical ties until we would go back to the same point we started in, exhausted, exhilarated and with at least two or three new pieces of completely useless but interesting scientific anecdotes to be forgotten until they spring up from your memory just in the right time, at some dinner party almost witty banter.
Now, in this list I have compiled mainly series of documentaries as you do get more of your money's worth and they are a bit more serious in nature, if only due to the fact they can go deeper on any of the subjects, but in the end of the day, if you just research "documentary" with the subject of your choice, you will find a lot of interesting material worth downloading. So. Here are some of my favorites:
- BBC How Art made the world –
- BBC Mark Steel lectures –
- BBC what the ancient did for us.
- BBC Supernatural (4 parts)
- BBC Seven ages of rock (6 parts)
- BBC Sacred music ( 4 parts)
- BBC Master photographers (6 parts)
- Channel 4 - This is modern art – Mathew Collins
- Channel 4 - Guide to happiness – Alain de botton (6 parts)
- Channel 4 - The Root of All Evil
- BBC Dangerous Knowledge
- BBC Power Of Nightmares (3 parts)
- BBC Orwell Rolls in his Grave (4 parts)
- BBC The Story of God (3 parts)
- PBS American photography (3 parts)
- PBS - Documenting the Face of America
- CBC - Culture Jam - Rough Cuts
- MGM – The yes men - save the world