Thursday, May 3, 2007

the documentarian

When a filmmaker has no budget for actors, no imagination for a script, and no guile for special effects, we call him a documentarian. He is reduced to turning his camera upon the "blooming, buzzing confusion" that surrounds him and using these chaotic events as grist for his mill. Luckily, the documentarian too has the opportunity to create. He exercises first the creative power of omission, for with his tiny lens and four-cornered frame he captures only a single perspective on an event. By selecting one perspective amongst a continuum of such possible, the documentarian squashes the subtlety and complexity of any moment into a single, simple interpretation. Later, in the darkness of his hovel, the documentarian strings these moments together into a narrative. And here again, there is room for creativity, for some moments are omitted and others rearranged, until a vast complexity has been whittled down to a simple, linear story. Modern heir to the alchemical tradition, the documentarian has performed a mystic transformation: he has made of reality, a fiction.

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