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The Protocols of Truthmaking


The Protocols of Truthmaking

Bagshaw, Jake (2016) The Protocols of Truthmaking. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Increasingly, documentary films that reflexively interrogate their own medium are commonly labeled as works that “straddle the line between fiction and nonfiction.” Despite this frequently paraphrased concept, how can we responsibly ground nonfiction filmmaking's interest in truth claims? A method by which we may explain this phenomenon is with formal analysis. Often reserved for the explication of form in fiction film or “narrative cinema,” significantly less attention has been given to the study of film aesthetics in nonfiction works. This case study examines the style and structure of two nonfiction films that profile death row cases in the Texan justice system, namely Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line (1988), and Werner Herzog's Into The Abyss (2011). With comparative formal analysis, I aim to demonstrate how the use of style participates in the formation of particular conceptual notions of truthmaking. The term truthmaking, which I have appropriated from 20th century analytic philosophy, is used to describe the process whereby film style enables a cognizant medium for the discussion of how film form may be devised to pursue truth. I propose that David Bordwell's two-fold process of analytic and historical poetics may be recontextualized within the realm of documentary film studies, both expanding and inquiring the application of Formalist methodology. More broadly, this thesis argues that space ought to be given for qualitative formal analysis of the nonfiction film, which simultaneously assists in the historicization of documentary style while also revisiting and challenging familiar views about the films and filmmakers in question.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Bagshaw, Jake
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Film Studies
Thesis Supervisor(s):Rist, Peter
ID Code:981787
Deposited By: JAKE BAGSHAW
Deposited On:07 Nov 2016 14:45
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:53
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