Fear of voice-over: what is it about documentaries and talking heads? Why do we need to see people say what they are saying. Given that most docs are edited so’s to make a coherent argument, using talking much as essay-writers use quotations from secondary sources (ie selectively), why bother with interviewees at all? ‘The Corporation’ is well worth seeing, but none of the theatrically released films in this ‘year of the documentary’ live up to Adam Curtis’ TV ‘The Power of Nightmares’.
‘Capturing the Friedmans’ comes closest: there the talking head format makes sense because all the talking heads contradict each other, and you have to fall back on primeval codes of body language to figure out what the hell’s going on.
Julio Medem’s ‘Basque Ball’ is interesting because it makes clearest how much the director is manipulating interview footage by using copious and obvious jump-cuts; for example one interviewee is framed in front of the ocean, the jagged rhythm of the incoming waves emphasizing how much is being left out.
You have to wonder ‘to what end?’ To non-Spanish non-wonks it’s imposssible to keep track of who is saying what (flash subtitles tell us exactly *which* socialist nonviolent etc Basque sect is represented in each interview), so you wonder why Medem didn’t just go for a direct argument film in his own voice, rather than rely on the spurious authenticity of citation.