The Ethnographic Films

Topics: Culture, Native Americans in the United States, Documentary film Pages: 2 (612 words) Published: April 15, 2011
We all watch films, and documentaries. Generally, we learn some things from them, but can we be sure what we learned is true, and objective? If the films compare and analyze the context (religion, language, etc.) well, we call these kinds of films as ‘ethnographic’ films. A simple question can be appeared in our minds: which films are the ethnographic films? We will try to find an answer to this question with discussing the intentions, the wholeness and the ethics of ethnographic film-making.

The films (or documentaries) are not naïve as we think. To find the reasons for making a film, we should ask questions such as ‘Why was the film made?’ ‘Who was it made for?’ and ‘what can it be used for?’. If we do not recognize that the film is objective or not, then we can learn wrong things, and have wrong thoughts about what we watched. For example, we watched a film about some Americans who is under attack by natives in a town, and they kill those native people to survive. After watching this film, we directly think that the native people are dangerous, aggressive, and must be killed, but if we just watched a part of this fight with the viewpoint of an American? If the intention of this film is to make us think bad about natives? We cannot know, we must watch the whole fight between natives and Americans with whole person, and whole viewpoint of both of them.

The word ‘wholeness’ has an important meaning for ethnographic films. Because the films are getting closer to the reality and becoming obvious if we use the whole context. I want to give an example again: we are making a film with the ways of recording and translating the beliefs and tradition of human cultures and we are cutting and editing the events. Can the people who watch our film understand what they do exactly? I do not think so. Conversely, if we record the event as they happen with the essence of the people, their passion, their fears and their motivations, our film will be whole and...
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