Best Documentary Movies of 1985
Live Aid was held on 13 July 1985, simultaneously in Wembley Stadium in London, England, and the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, United States. It was one of the largest scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time: watched live by an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations. "It's twelve noon in London, seven AM in Philadelphia, and around the world it's time for Live Aid...!"
Iron Maiden: Live After Death
Filmed and recorded towards the tail end of 'The World Slavery Tour' over a record breaking four sold out nights at Los Angeles' 13,200 capacity Long Beach Arena. Featuring tracks from their first five albums.
Carefully picked scenes of nature and civilization are viewed at high speed using time-lapse cinematography in an effort to demonstrate the history of various regions.
Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera
The creative processes of avant-garde composer Philip Glass and progressive director/designer Robert Wilson are examined in this film. It documents their collaboration on this tradition breaking opera.
Little Drummer Boy: Essay on Mahler by Leonard Bernstein
This television essay from 1985 was written by Leonard Bernstein to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Gustav Mahler's birth. Recorded in Israel, Vienna and later in London, it is punctuated by biographical interludes and illustrated by musical examples drawn from the cycle of Mahler's works recorded by Bernstein. Bernstein talks, plays and conducts various orchestras (Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Wiener Philharmoniker) and soloists (Janet Baker, Christa Ludwig, Edith Mathis, Lucia Popp, Walton Groenroos) in performances spanning 17 years. Leonard Bernstein also examines the roots of Gustav Mahler's inspiration. The programme also features music from the nine symphonies, 'The Song of the Earth' and the 'Wunderhorn Cycle'.
The Charles Bukowski Tapes
The Charles Bukowski Tapes are an altogether more than four hours long collection of 52 short-interviews with the American cult author Charles Bukowski, sorted by topic and each between one and ten minutes long. Director Barbet Schroeder (Barfly) interviews Bukowski about such themes as alcohol, violence, and women, and Bukowski answers willingly, losing himself in sometimes minute-long monologues. Amongst other things, Bukowski leads the small camera team through his parents’ house and his former neighbourhood, but the largest part of the interviews takes place in Bukowski’s flat or backyard. The documentary includes a scene in which Bukowski reacts violently toward his wife Linda Lee.
Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain
“Prince and the Revolution: Live” is a legendary concert filmed toward the end of Prince's “Purple Rain” tour in Syracuse, NY on March 30, 1985. The performance has Prince at the height of his powers, backed by the classic Revolution lineup of Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Matt Fink, Mark Brown, Eric Leeds, and Bobby Z. The 20-song set features: Let's Go Crazy, Delirious, 1999, Little Red Corvette, Take Me With U, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Do Me Baby, Irresistible Bitch, Possessed, How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore, Let's Pretend We Are Married, International Lover, God, Computer Blue, Darling Nikki, The Beautiful Ones, When Doves Cry, I Would Die 4 U, Baby I'm A Star, and Purple Rain.
Gary Owens needs more dinosaurs and sends Eric Boardman on the ultimate dinosaur safari to find them. Join the hunt for a living dinosaur in the jungles of Africa, separate the facts from fiction in dinosaur movies, visit Dinosaur National Monuent and much more. There's no bone unturned in this award winning program
Ross McElwee sets out to make a documentary about the lingering effects of General Sherman's march of destruction through the South during the Civil War, but is continually sidetracked by women who come and go in his life, his recurring dreams of nuclear holocaust, and Burt Reynolds.
Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs
Gary is turning into a dinosaur, and Eric must find the cure. This becomes a globetrotting journey into everything dino while searching for the magic waters needed to stop Gary's odd transformation. Will Eric be too late? Get ready to meet the Garysaurus!
A Class Divided
William Peters follows up on the 1970 TV documentary Eye of the Storm about Jane Elliott's experiment of dividing an otherwise homogenous group of school kids by their eye color. The episode intercuts footage from Eye of the Storm with new footage of the students, who are now adults. The film takes us through the journey of a young class learning the unfairness of racism. Elliot teaches the lesson through eye color and different treatment. All of the students admit that this is wrong. In footage of the students as adults, we are able to see how this shaped the experiment changed their lives.
A documentary film about dancing on the screen, from it's orgins after the invention of the movie camera, over the movie musical from the late 20s, 30s, 40s 50s and 60s up to the break dance and the music videos from the 80s.
Die Nacht ("The night") is a 1985 West German installation film directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg. It consists of a six hours long monologue performed by Edith Clever, who reads texts by Syberberg and many different authors, such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich von Kleist, Plato, Friedrich Hölderlin, Novalis, Friedrich Nietzsche, Eduard Mörike, Richard Wagner, William Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett and chief Seattle. The film was screened out of competition at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival. (from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Nacht)
B.B. King: Into the Night
A short documentary about B.B. King and his time working on the score for the 1985 movie "Into the Night" starring Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Lord of the Dance/Destroyer of Illusion
The documentary focuses on the annual Mani Rimdu festival of Tibet and Nepal, an event which encapsulates the Himalayan Buddhist experience.
We Are the World: The Story Behind the Song
We Are the World: The Story Behind the Song is a documentary which examines how the song was written, how producer Quincy Jones and songwriters Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie persuaded some of the most popular performers in America to donate their services to the project, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the marathon recording session that produced the single.
Harvest of Despair
Via the New York Times: "...a frankly biased, angry recollection of the great, "man-made" famine of 1932-1933 in which up to seven million people starved to death in the Ukraine. It is the film's thesis that Stalin was directly responsible by his ruthless expropriation of virtually all of the grain harvested in the Ukraine over a two-year period."
The Making Of West Side Story
A documentary which shows, in great detail, the making of the 1985 Bernstein-conducted recording of the entire score of "West Side Story", featuring operatic stars.
An entertaining documentary look at dinosaurs with Emmy Award-winning special effects, feature film clips and stills, commentary by leading paleontologists of the time, and an on camera as well as voice-over narrative by Christopher Reeve. Shot on location in Los Angeles and New York at the American Museum of Natural History
The Making of the Terminator
This documentary treats movie fans to a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Terminator, the now-classic science fiction film about an ordinary woman being pursued by an unstoppable assassin robot sent from the future to kill her before she can give birth to a child who will one day become the leader of a resistance army. Included are interviews with stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, along with the cast and crew who share their experiences from making the film, as well as discuss the efforts that went into it.
Bombay, Our City
A documentary on the socio-economic injustice meted out to the slum-dwellers in Bombay, and an attempt to understand the factors responsible for it.
The Creation of the Universe
Discussion of the creation of the universe. With music composed and performed by Brian Eno, science journalist Timothy Ferris takes viewers into an exploration of scientific evidence about the origin of the universe and its evolution over 15 billion years
Sting: Bring on the Night
Bring on the Night is a 1985 documentary film, that focuses on the jazz-inspired project and band led by the British musician Sting during the early stages of his solo career. Some of the songs, whose recording sessions are featured in the film, appeared on his debut solo album The Dream of the Blue Turtles. Each musician in the band through the course of the film is interviewed.
The Beach Boys: An American Band
A biography of the American rock band The Beach Boys, with interviews, concert footage and clips from movies and television shows they appeared in.
Guided by seasoned New Yorkers, political figures, and cultural connoisseurs, "Empire City" examines Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs in order to paint a portrait of the ever-evolving metropolis. Appearing to be both adaptable and stubbornly stagnant, New York is a city of juxtapositions. As our narrator notes, "The city is too big, too diverse, and too complex for anyone to comprehend. New York is many cities interlaced with one another, each in constant independent motion."
The Dream Is Alive
The Dream Is Alive takes you into space alongside the astronauts on the space shuttle. Share with them the delights of zero gravity while working, eating and sleeping in orbit around the Earth. Float as never before over the towering Andes, the boot of Italy, Egypt and the Nile. Witness firsthand a tension-filled satellite capture and repair and the historic first spacewalk by an American woman.
Artie Shaw: Time Is All You've Got
This in-depth examination of the life and career of clarinetist and bandleader Artie Shaw cuts between archival footage, location shots, and an interview with Shaw himself. Berman illustrates the tumultuous, complicated, and remarkable legacy of a man who brought numerous innovations to jazz and swing music during the big-band era.
Whoopi Goldberg: Direct from Broadway
Whoopi Goldberg in her original one-woman show.
Crumb director Terry Zwigoff’s first film is a true treat: a documentary about the obscure country-blues musician and idiosyncratic visual artist Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong, member of the last known black string band in America. As beguiling a raconteur as he is a performer, Louie makes for a wildly entertaining movie subject, and Zwigoff honors him with an unsentimental but endlessly affectionate tribute. Full of infectious music and comedy, Louie Bluie is a humane evocation of the kind of pop-cultural marginalia that Zwigoff would continue to excavate in the coming years.
The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal
Among the legends of Hollywood, George Pal takes his place as a true visionary, an innovator and a showman who profoundly shaped the art of motion pictures. A peer of Walt Disney, Pal pioneered stop motion animation and went on to virtually invent the modern science fiction and fantasy film genres. Pal's extraordinary genius molded a dazzling array of films, which earned an incredible total of eight Academy Awards and left a cinematic legacy that served as formative inspiration for the movies of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Gene Roddenberry.
In 1979, Louis Malle traveled into the heart of Minnesota to capture the everyday lives of the men and women in a prosperous farming community. Six years later, during Ronald Reagan's second term, he returned to find drastic economic decline. Free of stereotypes about America's "heartland," GOD'S COUNTRY, commissioned for American public television, is a stunning work of emotional and political clarity.
The Compleat Al
The Compleat Al is a mockumentary about the life of "Weird Al" Yankovic, from his birth to 1985. The title of the film is parody of the 80's documentary The Compleat Beatles. Although it is a mockumentary, it is roughly based on Yankovic's real life. The film also contains all of Yankovic's music videos up to 1985.
This documentary focuses on the careers of influential partners in trash film, John Waters and Divine. The film includes interviews with Waters' parents and sister, actress Edith Massey sings two songs (Punks, Get off the Grass and Fever), as well as a live performance of Divine performing his song Born to be Cheap.
Oakland bluesman Sonny Rhodes sings “Cigarette Blues”: a musical warning that compares cigarette smoking with playing with a loaded gun.
George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey
Biography of the legendary filmmaker directed by his son.
Pumping Iron II: The Women
PUMPING IRON II: THE WOMEN, a film that is changing the way the world views the female physique-creating "a new definition of the female form." Join four women as they prepare for the 1983 Caesars Palace World Cup Championship: the sultry and curvaceous Rachel McLish, the current champion; the almost manly, super-muscular Bev Francis, Rachel's toughest competition; and newcomers Lori Bowen and Carla Dunlap.
Rick Springfield: The Beat of the Live Drum
He soared to the heights of stardom in the '80s as a teen idol, a soap star on "General Hospital," and a platinum-selling, Grammy-Award winning music artist. This concert event showcases the energy and vitality that propelled Springfield to the top of the pop charts, filled with spectacular live footage, giant projection screens, integrated music videos, and thousands of adoring fans. It's an unforgettable evening with one of the hottest performers of the '80s! Songs: Don't Walk Away, Alyson, Living in Oz, Affair of the Heart, Celebrate Youth, Human Touch, My Father's Chair, Jessie's Girl, State of the Heart, Bop 'Til You Drop, Don't Talk to Strangers, Love Somebody, Souls, Dance This World Away, Stand Up.
You Got to Move
A documentary that follows people from communities in the Southern United States in their various processes of becoming involved in social change.
Ken Burns' portrait of Louisiana governor and U.S. senator Huey Long.
The Statue of Liberty
For more than 100 years, the Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of hope and refuge for generations of immigrants. In this lyrical, compelling and provocative portrait of the statue, Ken Burns explores both the history of America’s premier symbol and the meaning of liberty itself. Featuring rare archival photographs, paintings and drawings, readings from actual diaries, letters and newspapers of the day, the fascinating story of this universally admired monument is told. In interviews with Americans from all walks of life, including former New York governor Mario Cuomo, the late congresswoman Barbara Jordan and the late writers James Baldwin and Jerzy Kosinski, The Statue of Liberty examines the nature of liberty and the significance of the statue to American life. Nominated for both the Academy Award ® and the Emmy Award ®, The Statue of Liberty received the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle, the Christopher Award and the Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival.
Amazing Masters of Martial Arts
This collection of archive footage from martial arts films offers an array of power-packed kicks, chops, leaps, and other dramatic fighting moves from expert martial artists Sonny Chiba, Carter Wong, Bruce Lei, and others.
In the Name of the People
In the Name of the People is a 1985 documentary film directed by Frank Christopher about the Salvadoran Civil War. The film follows four filmmakers who secretly entered El Salvador, marched with guerrillas across the country, and followed them into combat against government forces in San Salvador. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Willie and The Poor Boys - The Movie
Get back to the Boogie-Woogie/R&B roots with the boys performing classic cover tunes such as "Poor Boy Boogie," "Saturday Night," "Let's Talk It Over," "All Night Long," "Baby Please Don't Go," "Chicken Shack Boogie," and "You Never Can Tell." Also included: a 30-minute documentary, The Making of 'Willie and The Poor Boys'.
Inside Rooms: 26 Bathrooms, London & Oxfordshire
Greenaway's short documentary shows 26 bathrooms, each representing a letter of the alphabet.
Santa Claus: The Making of the Movie
This behind-the-scenes documentary follows Team Salkind as they set out to bring Santa's "true" story to the screen. Dudley Moore (Patch) hosts; David Huddleston intros in character as Santa.
Which Side Are You On?
The documentary features the British miners and their family experiences told through songs, poems, pictures and words.
Documentary follows three young women as they progress through the adult film industry from taking nude photos to acting in hard core porno movies. Also features major adult film producers, directors and actors.
The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes
This documentary examines the making of the Sherlock Holmes cinematic dynasty and includes interviews and archival film clips featuring the original crime-fighter in all his incarnations.
Orson Welles' Magic Show
Orson Welles was a big fan of magic and in this television broadcast develops a number of traditional tricks
Naked Spaces: Living Is Round
Shot with stunning elegance and clarity, NAKED SPACES explores the rhythm and ritual of life in the rural environments of six West African countries (Mauritania, Mali, Burkino Faso, Togo, Benin and Senegal). The nonlinear structure of NAKED SPACES challenges the traditions of ethnographic filmmaking, while sensuous sights and sounds lead the viewer on a poetic journey to the most inaccessible parts of the African continent: the private interaction of people in their living spaces.