Taking the long view

A study of longitudinal documentary

Author:
Richard Kilborn
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This book is a study of documentary series such as Michael Apted's world-famous Seven Up films that set out to trace the life-journeys of individuals from their earliest schooldays till they are fully grown adults. In addition to Seven Up, the book provides extended accounts of the two other best known longitudinal series to have been produced in the last three or four decades. It includes Winifred and Barbara Junge's The Children of Golzow and Swedish director Rainer Hartleb's The Children of Jordbro. The book first examines some of the principal generic features of long docs and considers the highly significant role that particular institutions have had on their production, promotion and dissemination. It then explores a study of how the individual works originated, with a special emphasis on the nurturing role of particular institutions. The book also explores the affinities that long docs have with soap opera texts, which have similar aspirations to neverendingness. Both long docs and soaps rely on an episodic mode of delivery and both seek to persuade their audience that they are attempting to chronicle real-time developments. Finally, the book explores the variety of ways in which long doc filmmakers contrive to bring their work to a satisfactory conclusion.

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