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 Amphitheater in the ruins of Pompeii, Italy. There are two versions of the film: the concert only (around 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 Dark Side of the Moon.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
Bailey on Visconti
Bailey interviews Italian film director Luchino Visconti.
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.
Nine Months to Freedom: The Birth of Bangladesh
Documentary about the violent events that led to the creation of Bangladesh.
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.
CAN: The Free Concert
The experimental German krautrockers CAN's legendary "Free Concert," recorded in Cologne's Sporthalle, Germany, on February 3, 1972. The circumstances of this Cologne show were unusual. Rather improbably for such an experimental band, Can actually scored a chart success in Germany with "Spoon," which would later be tacked onto the end of Ege Bamyasi.
With a rambling, unstructured style that echoes Andy Warhol’s own approach to filmmaking, this documentary profiles his career, showing him to be a brilliant manipulator, dedicated voyeur and person of astute commercial judgment.
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'.
Documentary about marijuana use, culture and law enforcement by future porn superstar director Alex de Renzy.
Ningla A-Na documents the activism of the Black movement in south-east Australia in the 1970s and shows how the activists changed the direction of the movement both nationally and internationally.
Spend It All
Another short documentary of "Real Food, Roots Music, and People Full of Passion for what they do!", Spend It All is Les Blank's spirited look at the French-speaking Cajun community of southwest Louisiana.
James Earl Jones narrates this fascinating and moving documentary about the life of the assassinated black leader through various sources.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Making of Silent Running
An on-set documentary about the making of the classic science fiction film 'Silent Running'.
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.
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 .
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
From the Notebook of...
"From the Notebook of..." was shot in Florence and takes as its point of departure Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks and Paul Valéry's essay on da Vinci's process. These two elements suggest an implicit comparison between the treatment of space in Renaissance art and the moving image. The film marks a critical development in the artist's work in that he repeatedly employs a series of rapid pans and upward tilts along the city's buildings or facades, often integrating glimpses of his own face. As Beavers notes in his writing on the film, the camera movements are tied to the filmmakers' presence and suggests his investigative gaze.
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 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.
I Am a Dancer
Documentary about the dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
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.
Islands of the West
A tour of the landscape and wildlife of the Western Isles in Scotland.
An atmospheric essay, which is an alternative version of Count Dracula, a film directed by Jess Franco in 1970; a ghostly narration between fiction and reality.
Bigfoot: Man or Beast?
People go and search for the legendary Bigfoot creature.
Journey Through the Past
Self-directed combination of concert footage from 1966 onward, backstage footage and art film-like sequences.
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.