Best Documentary Movies of 1997
Little Dieter Needs to Fly
In 1966, Dieter Dengler was shot down over Laos, captured, and, down to 85 pounds, escaped. Barefoot, surviving monsoons, leeches, and machete-wielding villagers, he was rescued. Now, near 60, living on Mt. Tamalpais, Dengler tells his story: a German lad surviving Allied bombings in World War II, postwar poverty, apprenticed to a smith, beaten regularly. At 18, he emigrates and peels potatoes in the U.S. Air Force. He leaves for California and college, then enlistment in the Navy to learn to fly. A quiet man of sorrows tells his story: war, capture, harrowing conditions, escape, and miraculous rescue. Where did he find the strength; how does he now live with his memories?
Waco: The Rules of Engagement
In one of the most tragic face-offs in the history of law enforcement, the deadly debacle at Waco pitted the Branch Davidian sect against the FBI in an all-out war. This documentary makes the most of footage and recordings to examine how the events that led to the tragedy of April 19, 1993, unfolded, and how the FBI's unrelenting approach made what was already a bad situation much worse.
Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary
Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary is a 1997 film documenting an endurance competition that took place in Longview, Texas. The yearly competition pits twenty-four contestants against each other to see who can keep their hand on a pickup truck for the longest amount of time. Whoever endures the longest without leaning on the truck or squatting wins the truck.
4 Little Girls
On September 15, 1963, a bomb destroyed a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls who were there for Sunday school. It was a crime that shocked the nation--and a defining moment in the history of the civil-rights movement. Spike Lee re-examines the full story of the bombing, including a revealing interview with former Alabama Governor George Wallace.
Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
The story of Robert Flanagan, a man who was born with cystic fibrosis and told he wouldn't live past 20, who through a unique odyssey of masochism, art and love found a way to live decades past his expiration date.
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
Errol Morris’s Fast, Cheap & Out of Control interweaves the stories of four men, each driven to create eccentric worlds from their unique obsessions, all of which involve animals. There’s a lion tamer who shares his theories on the mental processes of wild animals; a topiary gardener who has devoted a lifetime to shaping bears and giraffes out of hedges and trees; a man fascinated with hairless mole rats; and an MIT scientist who has designed complex, autonomous robots that can crawl like bugs.
Keppel Road: The Life and Music of the Bee Gees
This documentary traces the lives of Gibb brothers and takes a look through their memories, creating some of the greatest hits in the world as the Bee Gees. Including interviews, archive footage, and new versions of classic songs - all recorded in the lead up to the release of their 'Still Waters' album in 1997.
A collection of moments and triumphs that helped Selena, and her band Selena y Los Dinos, into superstardom in North America.
Influenced by filmmakers as diverse as Ed Pincus and Carolee Schneemann, Anne Charlotte Robertson was a Boston area Super 8 filmmaker who examined and shared her life through her work – a mix of essay, performance and stop-motion animation. Diagnosed with various and changing mental disorders, Anne faced several breakdowns and mental hospitals – experiences she documented and exorcised thoroughly through her films – particularly within the annals of Five Year Diary, a project spanning nearly two decades. Though relentlessly intense and emotional, her films are not entirely bleak, for her bracing self-awareness and humor energize and bring a rare effulgence to the depths of her darkest moments. Anne boldly exposed her most intimate and obsessive inner dialogues – from illness, breakdowns and longing for love to diets, cats and the minutia of existence. She also considered the filmmaking experience therapeutic and cited the process as helping cure her depression.
Out of the Loop
A feature-length documentary on the 1990s Chicago rock scene.
The Long Way Home
The story of the post World War II Jewish refugee situation from liberation to the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
Garth Live from Central Park
This was the ultimate Garth Brooks fan's dream-a free live performance in Central Park. Garth gave a good showing in it, and I loved his performances of all his classic songs, such as "Unanswered Prayers, "The Dance," and "Friends in Low Places." While there weren't any of the high-kinetic, ultra-energetic stage movements usually reserved for the arena shows Garth gives, it was still worth the video purchase. Garth's performance was terrific, and the audience members obviously loved it as they sang along with all of his songs. You will find yourself doing the same.
The Big One
The Big One is an investigative documentary from director Michael Moore who goes around the country asking why big American corporations produce their product abroad where labor is cheaper while so many Americans are unemployed, losing their jobs, and would happily be hired by such companies as Nike.
Paul McCartney: In the World Tonight
Documenting the recording process for Paul's 1997 album Flaming Pie, In The World Tonight is a fascinating insight into how a studio album is constructed, following Paul around his home studio and Abbey Road as he creates what would go on to be his first studio album in four years. In many ways there are two Paul McCartneys, the legend and the man. In The World Tonight reveals the man behind the public face, intimately capturing him at work, at ease and as candid as ever.
Wild Man Blues
Wild Man Blues is a 1998 documentary film directed by Barbara Kopple, about the musical avocation of actor/director/comic Woody Allen. The film takes its name from a jazz composition sometimes attributed to Jelly Roll Morton and sometimes to Louis Armstrong and recorded by both (among others). Allen's love of early 20th century New Orleans music is depicted through his 1996 tour of Europe with his New Orleans Jazz Band. Allen has played clarinet with this band for over 25 years. Although Allen's European tour is the film's primary focus, it was also notable as the first major public showcase for Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi Previn.
In the Teeth of Jaws
BBC documentary about the making of Steven Spielberg's Jaws.
Noah: He Walked with God
Noah: He enjoyed a warm, intimate relationship with God. He devoted his life to the doing of Jehovah’s will. He “walked with the true God” and was blessed for doing so. He was Noah, an example worthy of imitation by young and old alike. Originally released on video cassette, later combined with David onto a single DVD.
Volcano: Nature's Inferno
Travel around the world for a firsthand look at volcanoes - perhaps the most dazzling but destructive natural force on earth. Massive volcanic eruption can turn day into night, releasing the power of an atomic blast, spewing toxic avalanches of lava, gas, and ash. National Geographic Video transports you to some of the world's most notorious volcanoes, including Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines and Japan's Mount Unzen. Join volcanologists in their dangerous quest to forecast eruptions and save lives, putting you in the middle of the explosive excitement and human drama of Volcano: Nature's Inferno.
Andrea Bocelli - A Night in Tuscany
A Night in Tuscany is the first DVD released by Italian singer Andrea Bocelli of a concert held in his native Tuscany, in 1997, highlighting the unique blend of Classical, Pop, and traditional Italian songs that made him a crossover success as an internationally acclaimed tenor. The concert takes place at the Piazza dei Cavalieri in Pisa. Bocelli performs two opera duets with soprano Nuccia Focile during the concert, before singing Miserere with Italian rock star Zucchero, who discovered him, and Time To Say Goodbye with English soprano Sarah Brightman
Green Chimneys follows three young boys living at Green Chimneys, a residential treatment center for children with emotional, behavioral, social and learning challenges.
NY,The Lost Civilization
An anthropological study of a strangely familiar city. .
Pantera 3: Watch It Go
The thrash metal band Pantera inspires some, uh, enthusiastic fans. This video was designed by the band members specifically for these diehard Pantera-heads. Filmed on their tour by band members, WATCH IT GO is an all access look at the real crazy, chaotic world of the four men who make up Pantera. Along with wild backstage footage, the video also includes four video clips for "Planet Caravan," "I'm Broken," "5 Minutes Alone" and "Drag the Waters."
A hilarious look at the universe's most fervent fans.
Girl Skateboard's video Mouse starred Eric Koston, Tony Ferguson, Jeron Wilson, Mike Carroll, Rick Howard, Rudy Johnson, Guy Mariano, Sean Sheffey, Jovontae Turner and Tim Gavin and co-starred the Chocolate team.
We follow the Newman-Haas (Andretti) racing team through the process of building, testing, and racing for a season. This includes extensive race speed on-track footage, including some pre-race footage with a full squad of cars. From time to time, we check in with a small shop building/restoring one of the first roadsters Mario Andretti raced; the finale includes him taking it for a spin.
Full Tilt Boogie
A documentary about the production of From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) and the people who made it.
Lugosi: Hollywood's Dracula
Lugosi: Hollywood's Dracula uncovers the life and career of legendary actor Bela Lugosi, examining his early life in Hungary and Germany through his Hollywood successes and eventual decline. The film features a vast array of never-before-seen footage of the actor, ranging from remains of his 1918 film Struggle for Life to behind-the-scenes home movies on the set of RKO Studios. Lugosi is peppered with dozens of rare films clips and photographs, with the story itself coming to life thanks to the vast array of on-camera interviewees.
Fleetwood Mac: The Dance
Recorded live at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, Fleetwood Mac performs their greatest hits – including the classics 'Rhiannon', 'Everywhere', 'Dreams', 'Don't Stop' and 'Landslide' – and several new songs.
The Volcano Man
Documentary about Swedish author Sture Dahlström.
Girl Power! Live in Istanbul
Join the Spice Girls live in Istanbul for their first ever concert! Plus: GIRLS TALK! An exclusive interview with the Girls! Find out what it's really, really like to be a Spice Girl!
George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy
George Carlin celebrates 40 years of comedy and here, he presents 2 new standup bits, comedian Jon Stewart gives an interview with him, and we look at his old comedy work through the last 4 decades.
Year of the Horse
Indie director Jim Jarmusch lenses a low-tech tribute to protean rocker Neil Young and his long-standing band, Crazy Horse. Stitched together from archival material shot in 1976 and 1986 along with candid scenes of Young and the band kicking back between shows, this rockumentary is as ragged as it is direct.
Grateful Dead: Anthem to Beauty
This installment of the Classic Albums series follows the making of two Grateful Dead albums, the fiercely experimental Anthem of the Sun and the understated masterwork American Beauty, which spawned melodic gems like "Sugar Magnolia" and "Ripple." Between the archival scenes and contemporary interviews with band members, the DVD shows a band making seismic inroads in pop music--and five young guys coming to terms with artistry, mortality, and, yes, the pursuit of happiness. There is priceless footage of Neal Cassady driving Ken Kesey's bus and of the Dead, surrounded by martini-sipping hipsters, on Playboy After Dark. The best scenes involve band members talking about specific songs (you will never hear Phil Lesh's "Box of Rain" again without thinking of it as a gift to his dying father) or deconstructing a tune by playing each track separately. Intimate and surprisingly cohesive, Anthem to Beauty is a rare glimpse into how the Dead's magic was made.
A docudrama about art and creativity; based on modern art gallery in Tehran and its founder Jazeh Tabatabai.
You Can Fly!: The Making of Walt Disney's Masterpiece 'Peter Pan'
The journey of J.M. Barrie's classic character to Walt Disney's conceptual masterpiece.
CIA - America's Secret Warriors
Lord of the Dance
Filmed at the Point Theatre in Dublin 'Lord of the Dance' takes Irish dancing to spectacular new heights. Orchestrated and conducted by Anne Dudley, inspiring original music by Ronan Hardiman and exhilarating dance starring the sensational Michael Flatley with supporting characters Bernadette Flynn, Daire Nolan, Gillian Norris, Helen Egan and Anne Buckley - Lord of the Dance is a rare and magical experience. Michael Flatley takes to the stage in a stunning Celtic dance spectacular which re-tells Irish folk legend in a dazzling and updated style. Join us when time stood still and Erin was goddess of all... The stories had all been written and everyone knew their parts. But the ancient clans, sitting in their stone circles, heard mumblings and the spirits dream was troubled. A new dark power had emerged to challenge the Lord of the Dance.
Eyes of the Rainbow
"Eyes of the Rainbow" deals with the life of Assata Shakur, the Black Panther and Black Liberation Army leader who escaped from prison and was given political asylum in Cuba, where she has lived for close to 15 years. In it we visit with Assata in Havana and she tells us about her history and her life in Cuba. This film is also about Assata's AfroCuban context, including the Yoruba Orisha Oya, goddess of the ancestors, of war, of the cemetery and of the rainbow.
Sobbin' Women: The Making of 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers'
This behind-the-scenes documentary includes interviews with people who were directly involved in the MGM classic musical 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers'. Those interviewed include actors and actresses who appeared in the film - as well as the film's choreographer, director, and musical arranger
Stuart Hall: Representation & the Media
Cultural theorist Stuart Hall offers an extended meditation on representation. Moving beyond the accuracy or inaccuracy of specific representations, Hall argues that the process of representation itself constitutes the very world it aims to represent, and explores how the shared language of a culture, its signs and images, provides a conceptual roadmap that gives meaning to the world rather than simply reflecting it. Hall's concern throughout is the centrality of culture to the shaping of our collective perceptions, and how the dynamics of media representation reproduce forms of symbolic power.
20th Century Fox: The First 50 Years
The first half century of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation from its beginnings under Hungarian immigrant William Fox to it emergence as a major studio.
U2: Popmart - Live from Mexico City
1. Pop Muzik 2. Mofo 3. I Will Follow 4. Gone 5. Even Better Than The Real Thing 6. Last Night On Earth 7. Until The End Of The World 8. New Year's Day 9. Pride (In The Name Of Love) 10. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For 11. All I Want Is You 12. Desire/La Bamba 13. Staring At The Sun 14. Sunday Bloody Sunday 15. Bullet The Blue Sky 16. Please 17. Where The Streets Have No Name 18. Lemon (Perfecto Mix) 19. Discothèque/Love To Love You Baby/Life During Wartime 20. If You Wear That Velvet Dress 21. With Or Without You 22. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me 23. Mysterious Ways 24. One 25. Wake Up Dead Man U2 performs live in Mexico City in support of their 1997 album, "Pop," featuring lavish special effects, cutting edge sound and spectacular multimedia enhancement.
Playboy's Girls Next Door - Naughty and Nice
Nothing beats the enticing appeal of those alluring girls next door. Now they're all grown up and ready to take you on a series of rousing rendezvous that are naughty... and oh so nice!
Moon Over Broadway
A documentary portrait of the backstage efforts to stage the play Moon Over Buffalo on Broadway.
Playboy: College Girls
Year in, year out, Playboy magazine's college pictorials are a big hit. Now, for the first time ever, our course in collegiate beauty comes to video with some of the most beautiful student bodies in the nation.
The Making of 'Spawn'
Documentary on the making of the 1997 film 'Spawn.'
Playboy's Girls in Uniform
If clothes make the woman, a uniform makes her even hotter. Playboy brings you and exclusive look at the foxy forms that make these uniforms sizzle.
Described as "a cross between a video and a documentary, but actually being neither of the two", singer/songwriter Elliott Smith plays three acoustic songs in this Jem Cohen-directed short film.
Behind the scenes interviews for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Story of Bean
Pending release of the movie "Bean," Rowan Atkinson reflects on his comedy career and reveals how his comic creation Mr Bean evolved. This 1997 documentary includes career clips as well as interviews with Atkinson, writers Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, British comedians Lenny Henry and Mel Smith and movie celebrities Jeff Goldblum and Burt Reynolds.