Best Documentary Movies of 1972
Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii
Stylish film of the British progressive rock band Pink Floyd in 1971 performing a concert with no audience, in the ancient Roman Amphitheatre in the ruins of Pompeii, Italy. There are two versions of the film: the concert only (60 minutes), and a longer version (85 minutes) featuring the concert interspersed with interviews and footage of Pink Floyd in the studio working on their next album, the legendary Dark Side of the Moon.
The Concert for Bangladesh
A film about the first benefit rock concert when major musicians performed to raise relief funds for the poor of Bangladesh. The Concert for Bangladesh was a pair of benefit concerts organised by former Beatles guitarist George Harrison and Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar. The shows were held at 2:30 and 8:00 pm on Sunday, 1 August 1971, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to raise international awareness of, and fund relief for refugees from East Pakistan, following the Bangladesh Liberation War-related genocide.
Part documentary, part expose, this film follows one-time child evangelist Marjoe Gortner on the "church tent" Revivalist circuit, commenting on the showmanship of Evangelism and "the religion business", prior to the start of "televangelism".
Elvis on Tour
This documentary captures Elvis Presley on his 1972 American tour and includes rehearsals, interviews, archival television appearances and backstage moments. With Elvis at his most flamboyant, the film features well-known hits and cover songs showcasing his country, gospel and rhythm-and-blues influences.
Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania
A 1971–72 documentary film by Jonas Mekas. It revolves around Mekas' trip back to Semeniškiai, the village of his birth.
The Magic of Walt Disney World
A look at the many attractions, resort hotels, and other amusements at Walt Disney World in its first year of operation.
The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes
At a morgue, forensic pathologists conduct autopsies of the corpses assigned.
For three days in 1971, former US soldiers who were in Vietnam testify in Detroit about their war experiences. Nearly 30 speak, describing atrocities personally committed or witnessed, telling of inaccurate body counts, and recounting the process of destroying a village.
Judy: Impressions of Garland
This BBC/MGM-TV co-produced documentary on the life and career of Judy Garland includes interviews with Liza Minnelli, Charles Walters and Mickey Rooney.
Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace
A shocking exposé of the deplorable conditions and abuses from the Willowbrook State School for children with intellectual disabilities.
The Waterfowl People
A documentary about the histoy and linguistic ties of the Finno-Ugric, and Samoyedic peoples. Speakers of the Kamassian, Nenets, Khanty, Komi, Mari, and Karelian languages were filmed in their everyday settings in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The footage was shot in Altai Krai, the Nenets Okrug, Khantia-Mansia, Uzbekistan, the Komi Republic, Mari el, Karelia, and Estonia. The first documentary in Lennart Meri's "Encyclopaedia Cinematographica Gentium Fenno - Ugricarum (1970 - 1997)" series.
Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa)
Leon Gast's musical documentary reveals New York City's Latin culture and features live performances of salsa greats The Fania All Stars and The Spanish Speaking People of New York. A document of urban American Hispanic culture, Gast's film captures the rhythms of New York's Spanish Harlem, from illegal cockfights and Santeria rituals to the rooftops and backstreets of El Barrio and the legendary musicians performing at the Cheetah club.
Betty Tells Her Story
A woman tells the story of how she bought an expensive dress that she never got to wear, and then tells the story again focusing on her feelings about the events she described.
Chung Kuo: China
A documentary on China, concentrating mainly on the faces of the people, filmed in the areas they were allowed to visit. The 220 minute version consists of three parts. The first part, taken around Beijing, includes a cotton factory, older sections of the city, and a clinic where a Cesarean operation is performed, using acupuncture. The middle part visits the Red Flag canal and a collective farm in Henan, as well as the old city of Suzhou. The final part shows the port and industries of Shanghai, and ends with a stage presentation by Chinese acrobats.
A surreal, half-fiction, half real life footage of a day in the life of John lennon and Yoko Ono, composed to music from John's historic 'Imagine' album and Yoko's 'Fly'.
The Ra Expeditions
Ra [also known as The Ra Expeditions] is a 1972 documentary film directed by Lennart Ehrenborg and Thor Heyerdahl about the expeditions organised by Thor Heyerdahl in 1969 and 1970 in attempt to cross the Atlantic on papyrus boats. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Documentary about marijuana use, culture and law enforcement by future porn superstar director Alex de Renzy.
In the Summer of 1971 the Glastonbury legend was born when the organisers decided to try and create a festival that would be a forerunner for an 'alternative and utopian society'. The festival encompassed Midsummer's Day, and in true medieval tradition, the area of Worthy Farm, Pilton was given over to music, dance, poetry, theatre, spontaneous entertainment and nudity.
James Earl Jones narrates this fascinating and moving documentary about the life of the assassinated black leader through various sources.
An impressionistic film shot in Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and outlying villages of the Andean center of Peru's Inca Empire. Inca Light captures in a fast fluid motion impressions of life today that refer us to the past society that has also dwelled here.
The Speed Merchants
The Speed Merchants is the story of the 1972 manufacturer's Championship Series as told by drivers Mario Andretti (Ferrari 312P) and Vic Elford (Alfa Romeo T33TT/3). The film takes you behind the scenes at Daytona, Sebring, the Targa Florio, the Nurburgring, Le Mans and Watkins Glen, focusing on Mario and Vic, as well as Jacky Ickx, Helmut Marko, and Brian Redman. You visit with the drivers at their homes in France, Belgium, Austria and England where they relax with their families between races. Woven into the film is rare footage of both the Ferrari and Alfa Romeo factories where the cars are prepared before each race.
Eat the Document
Eat the Document is a documentary of Bob Dylan's 1966 tour of the United Kingdom with the Hawks. It was shot under Dylan's direction by D. A. Pennebaker, whose groundbreaking documentary Dont Look Back chronicled Dylan's 1965 British tour. The film was originally commissioned for the ABC television series Stage '66. Though shooting had completed for the film, Dylan's July 1966 motorcycle accident delayed the editing process. Once well enough to work again, Dylan edited the film himself. ABC rejected the film as incomprehensible for a mainstream audience.
Weekend of a Champion
An entertaining vérité look at world champion driver Sir Jackie Stewart as Roman Polanski follows his attempt to win the Monaco Grand Prix in 1971.
The Pirates of Buban
By going to the Philippines, Imamura comes to meet people living in an extreme poverty. He discovers very quickly that some communities are under the control of cruel & armed pirates. Imamura will come to meet those men in order to understand their position.
The Making of Silent Running
An on-set documentary about the making of the classic science fiction film 'Silent Running'.
The Legend of Boggy Creek
A documentary-style drama based on true accounts of the Fouke Monster in Arkansas, Boggy Creek focuses on the lives of back country people and their culture while chronicling sightings of the monster.
A home movie by Adolfas Mekas and wife Pola Chapelle on their travels to Lithuania and Europe. It was filmed concurrently with the more highly regarded “Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania” by Jonas Mekas, brother to Adolfas.
Essene is about daily life in a Benedictine monastery and the resolution of conflict between personal needs and the institutional and organizational priorities of the community. In the Order, where the focus of life is the relationship of individual work and worship to the community as a whole, the brethren must cope with the same issues that arise in any community: rules, work, worship, values, love, and play.
This documentary by Theo Kamecke from 1970 gives an indepth and profound look at the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. NASA footage is interspersed with reactions to the mission around the world as the film captures the intensity as well of the philosophical significance of the event. Won special award at Cannes. Written by Adam Bernstein .
A documentary crew lives with the schizophrenic residents of a group home based upon radical psychiatrist R. D. Laing's controversial approach to healing through compassion and freedom.
I Am a Dancer
Documentary about the dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
Le Grice no longer simply uses the printer as a reflexive mechanism, but utilises the possibilities of colour-shift and permutation of imagery as the film progresses from simplicity to complexity… With the film’s culmination in representational, photographic imagery, one would anticipate a culminating “richness” of image; yet the insistent evidence of splice bars and the loop and repetition of the short piece of found footage and the conflicting superimposition of filtered loops all reiterate the work which is necessary to decipher that cinematic image. - Deke Dusinberre
Joyce at 34
After giving birth, Joyce attempts to regain her position as a filmmaker while also caring for her new baby. The changes to both her and her husband’s professional lives are remarkable and frustrating. The new parents love the baby but must recognize the limitations she puts on their careers.
The Inner Eye
At the age of 54, Binode Bihari Mukherjee, an accomplished painter, lost his sight following an unsuccessful cataract operation. He continued to create art despite his loss of sight. The documentary explores Binode Bihari’s inner eye that guides his fingers to create art.
A Computer Animated Hand
Archive film showing possibly the first example of digital rendering, made by Pixar co-founders Ed Catmull and Fred Parke in 1972, was stumbled upon by the son of Robert B Ingebretsen, who also set up the world-famous U.S. studio. A six minute version shows additional CGI animation of an artificial heart valve, and human heads.
A documentary short by Peter Graham, produced and edited by Walerian Borowczyk.
Eight years in the making, Boetticher’s portrait of his longtime friend, the famous bullfighter Carlos Arruza, was a labor of love that the renowned director of westerns (SEVEN MEN FROM NOW , RIDE LONESOME , COMANCHE STATION ) pursued despite contending with illnesses, bankruptcy, jail time, and lucrative offers from Hollywood. The result is an astonishing work of poetry, immediacy, and violence that fearlessly wrestles with the filmmaker’s own ambivalence about the titular matador’s triumphs prior to his death by automobile accident at the age of 46.
Actor James Mason returns to his Huddersfield roots. Harking back to his childhood memories, he remarks how the town has changed and developed but the people have remained the same.
A coven of witches gather in Vermont in a feminist collective’s transporting short that shakes off patriarchal scrutiny during the women’s ceremony, where they’re free to remake reality before our eyes. TRANSFORMATIONS creates an intoxicating alchemy from the witches’ interactions with nature: an attempt, as Hirschfeld remembers, to “use the act of filmmaking to heighten experience.”
This Tiny World
Oscar Winning documentary short about antique mechanical toys.
Journey Through the Past
Self-directed combination of concert footage from 1966 onward, backstage footage and art film-like sequences.
Islands of the West
A tour of the landscape and wildlife of the Western Isles in Scotland.
Bigfoot: Man or Beast?
People go and search for the legendary Bigfoot creature.
A documentary about a political troupe headed by actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland which traveled to towns near military bases in the US in the early 1970s. The group put on shows called "F.T.A.", which stood for "F**k the Army", and was aimed at convincing soldiers to voice their opposition to the Vietnam War, which was raging at the time. Various singers, actors and other entertainers performed antiwar songs and skits during the show.
Hollywood: The Dream Factory
This documentary explores and celebrates Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio's glorious history. MGM's eventual decline led to the sale of its back lot and props.
This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows the Rolling Stones on their 1972 North American Tour, their first return to the States since the tragedy at Altamont.
Somebody Waiting is a 1971 American short documentary film that examines hospitalized children with severe cerebral dysfunction who are among the most physically, emotionally and mentally handicapped in society and are totally dependent on hospital staff. It shows how these "hopeless cases" can be helped by environmental stimulation and therapeutic handling and how their response to improved care improves the morale of the staff so that all concerned benefit. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Just Another Job
This short film takes you behind the scenes of the Quebec Nordiques. Coached by the legendary Maurice Richard, the team is playing its opening World Hockey Association game at the Quebec Coliseum. Experience the pre-game tension, the on-ice action and the dream-contract signing.
Rapidly changing images of natural objects, scenery, animals, plants, and people flicker, flash, tumble, and cascade across the screen.
A Private Collection
A witty and eye-opening tour through Borowczyk's own collection of vintage erotica. Originally intended as part of his 'Contes immoraux', it was released first as a separate short, and is therefore marks the turning-point between Borowczyk's career as a highly-regarded animator and surrealist filmmaker, and his subsequent career in the sexploitation field.