Please see below for details/trailers of five documentaries that I thoroughly recommend you watch.
Of course we’re not all locked down but if you are and need inspiration or if you’re not but can still find time, then check out the following.
Disclaimer: Numbers two and four are the most depressing things that I’ve ever seen… well, as well as visiting actual zoos! Grizzly Man is also ultimately a bleak film. Errr… suddenly I feel a bit wrong recommending these but documentaries are there to tell the truth… good or bad!
Unknown White Male (2005)
Speaking of telling the truth, one of my all time favourite films, director Rupert Murray’s Unknown White Male, is considered a hoax by many, including some in the health profession. They claim that the very specific details in Doug Bruce’s case have never been documented before and that he can’t possibly be telling the truth. The filmmakers have strenuously denied that the film is a fraud.
Whilst I can understand parts of the argument for this film being a hoax, I like to believe that it’s genuine. If it was a hoax, I’d have thought that those involved would’ve sought more attention since.
The Bridge (2006)
A film interviewing the family members of a year’s worth of Golden Gate Bridge suicide jumpers, uplifting this movie isn’t!
The filmmakers positioned cameras at both ends of San Francisco’s famous feat of engineering and caught 23 of that year’s 24 jumpers. One long distance shot in the film simply features ‘nothing’… then a splash. There’s also in-depth interviews with a guy that survived and boy is that something!
Grizzly Man (2005)
You probably know how this ends before you (Or it) begins but this isn’t depressing in the same way that The Bridge or Blackfish (That we’ll come to) are. Well, at least I didn’t think so!
Spoiler Alert! Though this ends tragically and can lead to some pretty in-depth analysis of Timothy Treadwell’s mental state and possible selfishness at putting his girlfriend in ‘that’ position, it does highlight what an excellent cameraman of bear activity he was. This is something that is often overlooked. I guess that it doesn’t go hand in hand with the criticism that many people like to apply to Treadwell.
“Live by the sword, die by the sword” may be a cliche but it’s apt. Timothy Treadwell spent a fair portion of his life living his dream only that dream turned to a nightmare from which he never awoke.
If The Bridge was depressing then Blackfish gives it a good run for its money. An interview with one of the victim’s girlfriend is particularly harrowing.
Blackfish details the history of whales, specifically killer whales, in captivity (Specifically at SeaWorld sites around the globe) and from the beginning it’s painful to learn how they suffered. As a consequence people suffered too, not least the boyfriend of the interviewed girlfriend already mentioned.
There’s footage of one of the performers being toyed with by an orca which is incredibly scary… but, thanks in part to his diving experience and calmness, he survived.
The consequences of this film have been felt far and wide. SeaWorld ended its Orca breeding programme and claimed that it would phase out live shows. This hasn’t happened yet… or maybe it has given a certain global pandemic!
Super Size Me (2004)
The funny thing about this film is that, all it achieved (For me anyway) was to make me crave chicken nuggets… which I don’t think was the point!
Morgan Spurlock spends a month eating only from McDonalds and taking the super size option whenever it’s offered to him. We see the effect that this has on his health and meet some characters along the way, like the guy who only eats burgers!
Also worth watching are another Morgan Spurlock effort, Pom Wonderful, Finding Vivian Maier, Man on Wire, Searching for Sugarman and The Game of Their Lives (The one about the North Korean football team).
Look out for some more (Possibly less depressing) film recommendations soon!