Occasionally I go through restless periods that teeter on the edge of insomnia. Last time this happened, the only remedy I could find was to put David Attenborough nature documentaries on loop and listen to his dulcet musings about lowland gorillas. For some reason, it worked.
Somehow, there is an inherit comfort in the medium of the documentary film. I think a lot of people find solace in trying to understand the world around them, and for others it’s a total compulsion. This is how documentaries are made.
Some of the most poignant and strangest moments ever committed to film have happened in documentaries. The plight of the West Memphis Three; Bob Dylan terrorising reporters; R.Crumb’s general weirdness; Michael Moore’s incisive snideness; Derek from Spinal Tap shoving a zucchini wrapped in foil down his trousers. All proof that the real world (but sometimes the fake-real world) can often be just as strange as a fictionalised one.
I don’t claim to be a doco expert by any means; I can’t boast about owning Herzog box-sets or being able to quote obscure Armenian directors from the ‘70s who will ‘like, totally change your whole worldview, man’. But I do love documentary film. This column will allow me a reason to stoke the compulsive coals of doco-watching, and in doing so, hope you do too.
So, let’s clasp each other by the trembling, cinematic hand and run into the world of documentary like Timothy Treadwell ran fearlessly into bear territory. Let’s hope it works out better for us, than it did him.
The Documentalist is a brand new column that will kick off tomorrow. If you’re digging ReelGood, sign up to our mailing list for exclusive content, early reviews and chances to win big!