Best Documentary Movies of 1962
Prelude: Dog Star Man
A creation myth realized in light, patterns, images superimposed, rapid cutting, and silence. A black screen, then streaks of light, then an explosion of color and squiggles and happenstance. Next, images of small circles emerge then of the Sun. Images of our Earth appear, woods, a part of a body, a nude woman perhaps giving birth. Imagery evokes movement across time.
Dog Star Man: Part I
From a murky landscape, a wooded mountain emerges. We watch the sun. We see a bearded man climbing up the mountain through the snow. He carries an ax, and he's accompanied by a dog. His labors continue. There is no soundtrack. Images rush past - water, trees, and surfaces too close up to distinguish. He struggles. A fire burns. Nature, in long shots and magnified, is formidable and silent. It's tough going; he carries on. In a capillary, blood flows.
In the film, we see subjects instructed to administer electric shocks of increasing severity to another person, and observe both obedient and defiant reactions. After the experiment, we witness subjects explain firsthand their actions. Obedience is as relevant today as it was at its publication. As we as a society witness suicide bombings, torture, and gang atrocities, we wonder just how far people will go. Fifty years later, this experiment still resonates as people ask themselves, “Would I pull that lethal switch?” This is the only authentic film footage of Milgram’s famous experiment and is essential to all foundational work in social psychology at the graduate, undergraduate, and high school level.
Elgar: Portrait of a Composer
A partly dramatised account of the life of Sir Edward Elgar classical composer. Huw Wheldon narrates the life story over backdrops of beautiful mountain scenery, especially memorable is the image of young Elgar riding his horse around Malvern Hills.
Documentary focusing on 25 year-old actress Jane Fonda as she and her director Andreas Voutsinas prepare a stage play called The Fun Couple for Broadway.
Discovered in summer of 1985, of a set of “haiku-imagistic films” I did before coming to my characteristic style, as in Ray Gun Virus; I thought I’d destroyed all these pre-pure films, in about 1969-1970, the time of my separation from my first marriage. The film concerns my marriage, which lasted seven years; it was shot during its first year, when I was a painting student at the University of Denver. It is full of apprehensions, in a montage style which counterposes “opposites”: sexuality and religion; seasonal opposites; hopefulness undercut by fears of eventual separation (the image of a statue of two women, arm in arm, reading a book). I find it visually and kinetically interesting, after all these years. (Paul Sharits) —Canyon Cinema
Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy
Hilarious scenes from his silent and sound films as compiled and produced by Harold Lloyd himself.
Government propaganda film about the erection of the Berlin Wall. From the holdings of the National Archives. (archive.org)
Day After Day
A film that looks at life in a small paper-mill town in Québec where most of the 6,500 inhabitants derive their livelihood from the one industry. Day after day, the same work, the same hours, the same machines, the same product, until the entire routine of living becomes but a reflection of the dominant routine of the mill.
The Road to the Wall
A brief summary on Comumunism, its origins with Marx, passing through two world wars which leads all the way to the Berlin Wall. Oscar nominated documentary narrated by James Cagney.