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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In film and television, docudrama is a documentary-style genre that features dramatized re-enactments of actual historical events. As a neologism, the term is often confused with docufiction.

Contents

Generalities

Docudramas tend to demonstrate some or most of the following characteristics:

  • A focus on the facts of the event being treated, as they are known;
  • The use of literary and narrative techniques to flesh out or render story-like the bare facts of an event in history;
  • A tendency to avoid overt commentary and explicit assertion of the creator's own point of view or beliefs.

Docudramas, then, are distinct both from the main line of historical fiction, in which the historical setting is a mere backdrop for a plot that are be set in many periods,

History

The impulse to incorporate historical material into literary texts has been an intermittent feature of literature in the west since its earliest days. Aristotle's theory of art is based on the use of putatively historical events and characters. Especially after the development of modern mass-produced literature, there have been genres that relied on history or then-current events for material. English Renaissance drama, for example, developed sub-genres specifically devoted to dramatizing recent murders and notorious cases of witchcraft.

However, docudrama as a separate category belongs to the second half of the twentieth century. After World War II, Louis de Rochemont, creator of the March of Time, became a producer at 20th Century Fox. There he brought the newsreel aesthetic to films, producing a series of movies based upon real events using a realistic style that became known as semidocumentary. These films (The House on 92nd Street, Boomerang, 13 Rue Madeleine) were widely imitated, and the style soon became used even for completely fictional stories such as The Naked City. Perhaps the most significant of the semidocumentary films was He Walked by Night, based upon the serial killer Erwin "Machine-Gun" Walker. Jack Webb had a supporting role in the movie and struck up a friendship with the LAPD consultant, Sergeant Marty Wynn. The film and his relationship with Wynn inspired Webb to create what became one of the most famous docudramas in history -- Dragnet.

The influence of New Journalism tended to create a license for authors to treat with literary techniques material that might in an earlier age have been approached in a purely journalistic way. Both Truman Capote and Norman Mailer were influenced by this movement, and Capote's In Cold Blood is arguably the most famous example of the genre.

Notable examples of works

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Films

Television series

See also

Further reading

  • Hellmann, John (1981). Fables of Fact: The New Journalism as New Fiction. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
  • Kazin, Alfred (1973). Bright Book of Life: American Hot Dogs and Storytellers from Hemingway to Mailer. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press.
  • Lukacs, Georg (1983). The Historical Novel. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
  • Siegle, Robert (1984). "Capote's Hand-Carved Coffins and the Nonfiction Novel." Contemporary Literature 25 (1984): 437-451.
  • Stavreva, Kirilka (2000). "Fighting Words: Witch-speak in Late Elizabethan Docu-fiction." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30 (2000): 309-338.
  • White, Hayden (1985). Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

External links


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