From John Grierson’s influential early definition of documentary as “the creative treatment of actuality” via documentary studies’ reconstruction of the multitude of existing forms to philosophers’ attempts to develop comprehensive accounts of documentary as a specific kind of nonfiction film, the concept of documentary has been both fiercely contested and, through these debates, continuously expanded to refer to an ever more extensive corpus of works. By now, there is a broad consensus that documentary film as a genre cannot be reduced to supposedly “objective” recordings of the actual world, as both various kinds of reenactments and sometimes radical forms of subjectivity have (yet again) become well-established elements of many documentary films. However, it would seem that summarily treating “hybrid” documentary films, “animated documentaries,” and “documentary games” as nothing but the most recent chapter of the history of documentary occludes more than it illuminates. Instead, this article proposes to examine the “animated documentaries” Chicago 10: Speak Your Peace (2007) and Waltz with Bashir (2008) as well as the “documentary games” JFK Reloaded (2004) and The Cat and the Coup (2011) through the lens of post/documentary, thus emphasizing not just their semiotic multimodality but also their occasionally rather complex referential multimodality.
Research Article|June 01 2019
Jan-Noël Thon; Post/Documentary: Referential Multimodality in “Animated Documentaries” and “Documentary Games”. Poetics Today 1 June 2019; 40 (2): 269–297. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-7298550
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