Interpretation and Evaluation of Historical Documentaries

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy

Table of Contents

Oct. 12th 2012
June 17th 2011
June 17th 2011
May 31st 2011

October 12th 2012 . go to CNA's Log

As you judge numerous documentaries in your paper, and the persons responsible for making them can not defend their work, in my comment I must play the role of "advocatus diaboli".
(1)     When you refer to individual documentaries, please provide the following information : (1) name of the company which produced it (f.ex. BBC); (2) name of the series (if it is part of a series); name of the director; year of production. You can do so in your reference list, section 'documentaries examined for this paper', and in footnotes refer to them every time you refer to a documentary for the first time.
(2)     In your paper you do not properly differentiate between documentary, documentary series, and individual documentary (episode) of a documentary series. Please do so.
(3)     Some documentaries blatantly show this mistake such as the 1966 historical documentary Africa Addio which implicitly advocates pro-colonialism by only showing certain beneficial aspects of colonialism
could you give here a reference (I don't know if there is a site for documentaries as IMDB is for movies); this documentary does not appear in your reference list
(4)     Thus, it fails to contextualize the Kosovo War and the atrocities involved within it from a historical point of view since it does not portray all side of a historical event - thus, the documentary cedes to remain on one that merely demands justice for the Serbians. Considering how the director is a Serbian-Canadian, perhaps this portrayal was intentional which casts doubt on the initial motivation of the documentary.
Your judgment is correct; especially as the title is ambiguous and does not stress that it only looks at Kosovo Serbians as victims.
To do justice to the documentary director, at the time the conflict was going on, western media only portrayed Serbians as perpetrators and Kosovo Albanians as victims. Here it would be really helpful to learn when the documentary was made, during or after the conflict.
(5)     Your judgment of the bias in "The Most Evil Men in History" would be more understandable if you would profide a list of the historical persons covered in this documentary series.
(6)     Your criticism is very brief, and perhaps single-sided. What standards to the documentary makers seem to imply ? Which British or American person do you regard qualified to be included in this list ?
I am just reading E.L. Jones. The European Miracle. Environments, economies and geopolitics in the history of Europe and Asia (1981). He repeaptedly states that European history was less affected by large-scale violence than that of Asia. So the documentary makers may not be alone in such judgment.
It might be wise here to examine and criticize the standards underlying the documentary series, before judging the series.
(7)     For example, the documentary does not mention about Wallace being motivated to achieve freedom for Scotland due to the death of his wife by an English soldier.
'Death by a soldier' awkward, rephrase
(8)     capitalize the term "Communism"
(9)     The images of Marx, Engles and Darwin are juxtaposed Engels
(10)     Eventually, and to the surprise of many, 325 Koreans, 21 Americans and 1 Briton decided to stay in communist China . They Chose China portrays these 21 men who have been labeled as 'dishonorably discharged'.
In your first sentence you refer to 325 + 21 + 1 men = 347 men. "These 21 men" in your second sentence is therefore a logical jump; rephrase.
(11)     "The issue of 21 American POWs deciding to live in America may, .."
deciding to live in China, you mean to say
(12)     political and social situation of America at this time. better : in the U.S.
(13)     The documentary's first episode History's Turning Points: The Battle of Salamis starts with no definition or demonstration by what is meant by the term 'turning point' instead of 'no definition' 'without a definition'
(14)     In defense of criticised documentary series producers : 'The Seven Wonders' is expressedly exclusive; 'The Most Evil Men in History' is exclusive, 'History's Turning Points' only implies exclusivity.
(15)     A list of criteria along with examples has been elaborated with depth in order to show how documentaries can be evaluated. An elaboration of these criteria has led to further analysis regarding certain documentaries in order to provide further insight by comparison of certain documentaries that demonstrate a certain typical pitfall and of certain documentaries that show how that pitfall can be overcome.
Correct, but too short. Restate those criteria, the pitfalls.
Imagine a reader skipping the body of your paper and reading only the conclusion.
(16)     youtube is a source I do not use because I don't trust it.
For several reasons : the documentaries posted there where not posted there by the directors or companies which produced them. There may be legal issues. But I wonder : have complete documentaries / episodes of documentaries been posted there, or merely cut versions, or merely excerpts ? Please add a chapter in which you describe your source base, i.e. the youtube editions of the documentaries you use.
In order for you to understand : our library has the 2 tape version of the "1900 House". The version downloadable from the web is much shorter. Be aware of the possibility that the same may have happened with youtube versions you have studied.

June 17th 2011 . go to CNA's Log

The last chapter I expected you to work on at this stage was the introduction.
My philosophy : write body, write conclusion, then write intro. You will change this one, I am certain.

June 17th 2011 . go to CNA's Log

organize your reference list in chapters, by documentary title, and do not forget to include the primary sources - the documentaries

May 31st 2011 . go to CNA's Log

I don't like the use of documentary titles as chapter titles.
You chose these documentaries, because they were representative for an approach or flaw.
Formulate that approach or flaw as chapter title and use the documentary of your choice as main example.
Terminology : Second Reich. Problematic.
History : During the Holy Roman Empire, scholars distinguished their Empire from the original Roman Empire as the Second Empire (Reich means Empire or realm in German). When Bismarck unified Germany, this new Empire was the third. It was terminated by the Weimar Republic.
The Nazis hated the Weimar Republic and used the term "Third Reich" to argue that they were the legitimate successors of the Kaiserreich 1871-1918, and not the Weimar Republic.
I am aware that hardly anybody outside of Germany grasps this, but I suggest you to avoid the term "Second Reich"; too confusing. Wilhelmine Germany might do.
You accused the makers of the Namibia documentary of being biased; you need to establish solid support for your criticism.

The next step (other than a revised table of contents) : a working reference list, containing the documentaries you included in your research so far, and the sources you looked into in order to check on their individual contents.
'working' in front of table of contents and reference list means you have the right to change them any time you want, until you hand in a final draft.