What You Should Know About Expository Documentary Mode
by eev-hastings Jul 07, 2022 Views (1.6K)

If you've ever watched one of the many wildlife programmes on the BBC, such as Planet Earth, you've probably seen an expository documentary. The purpose of an expository documentary like those made by Ken Burns or Michelle Osbourn is to inform and educate the audience. In contrast to the way an observational or participatory film handles a tale, it teaches ideas about our world in a unique way.

There are six basic types of documentary, each with its own aesthetic and defining traits. According to American cinema critic Bill Nichols, these forms of documentaries are explanatory, participative, observational, performative, poetic, and reflexive. Expository documentaries, which are the most common kind of documentary, use a spoken narrative to educate the audience about a particular subject.


Expository Documentaries: What Are They?

Expository documentaries provide a certain point of view or argument regarding a topic, and the narrator frequently addresses the audience directly while highlighting the connections between the visual cues and providing commentary. Expository documentaries often feature material, such as stock footage, archival footage, b-roll, or re-enactments of historical events, that emphasizes and supports the film's spoken argument.

Expository documentaries are carefully researched and written with the intent to educate and persuade. In contrast to poetic documentary or observational documentary forms, the expository mode seeks to persuade the audience by making a compelling case for or against a certain point of view.

Expository documentary is one of the several filmmaking services rendered by a Video Production Company. 


What Features Define an Expository Documentary?

There are a number of distinctive qualities specific to the explanatory style of documentary filming, including:

1. Omniscient Voice-over: The "voice of God" narration is one aspect of explanatory documentaries. The documentary's images are accompanied by this authoritative voice, which defines the imagery for the audience and explains rhetorical substance to support the case being made in the movie. Without offering subjective accounts or personal narratives to convey a narrative, the voice-over merely conveys information.

2. The "Correct" Response: Expository documentaries don't give the audience much room for subjectivity since they want them to have a specific reaction to what they are watching. The statements in the film are frequently supported by rhetorical questions, historical accounts, and interviews, along with any other pertinent data.

3. Evidentiary Editing: In contrast to expository filmmakers, who employ images to bolster their arguments, poetic mode documentarians use their visuals for emotional or artistic effects. Screenshots are accompanied by captions or commentary that explain or support them. News broadcasts frequently employ this kind of editing methodology.


3 Illustrations of Expository Documentaries

Documentary movies come in a wide variety of styles. While Dziga Vertov's self-reflexive documentary Man With a Movie Camera (1929), which examined urban Soviet life without the use of actors, made history, filmmaker Michael Moore is renowned for fusing participatory methods with performative documentaries. Expository documentaries can be found in, for instance,

The Dust Bowl (2012) The causes and effects of one of the greatest droughts to ever affect North American farms are supplemented by images and statistics in Ken Burns' historical portrayal of this terrible drought during the Great Depression.

Blue Planet (2001) In this documentary series examining the past and present conditions of our planet's oceans, David Attenborough's informed and authoritative voice, together with his years of natural experience, provides credibility to his scientific narration. In an attempt to resolve a portion of the enigma surrounding these enormous bodies of water that encircle two-thirds of the planet's surface and its people, in the movie.

Additionally, Attenborough calls attention to how human activity affects marine life and how we are destroying this habitat for wildlife.

Nanook of the North, (1922). A glimpse inside Nanook, an Inuk, and his family's daily lives is provided through the silent film by Robert Flaherty. The "voice of God" speaks through title cards, giving viewers interpretation for specific situations. The film adheres to the majority of explanatory filmmaking norms and is primarily instructive, despite the fact that some minor aspects were adjusted to increase the entertainment value of the production.


Documentary filmmaking predominantly uses the expository mode.

In a documentary, exposition becomes a problem once you start narrating a complicated topic, especially if there isn't much film of the real subjects or events.

Any other approach would be akin to cinematic navel-gazing, which ultimately helps neither the director nor the audience. And lastly, to those who truly went through what happened in the story that the documentary describes,

This may be the reason so many documentarians choose expository narratives, whether they are focusing on nature, history, crime, or current events.

In an explanatory documentary, a topic is chosen, and information about it is presented via interviews, archive material, and other media.

Although the expository documentary mode is the most common form of documentary production, video production companies in Dubai can help produce any form of documentary or video production you may want with the right professional touch. 

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