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Rosenthal, Alan. Why Docudrama? Fact-Fiction on Film and TV. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1999.
This particular book sets forth, with the help of many contributors, to analyze the uses of documentary filmmaking both in the US and abroad. The editor, Alan Rosenthal is himself a successful documentary filmmaker specializing in Middle Eastern topics, however, this does not dissuade him from tackling good old-fashioned American television docudrama. He actually devotes an entire chapter to it. As a whole, the book will serve to enlighten in several areas of documentary, but there are a few chapters exclusively devoted to American film and the Hollywood spin on history. In chapter five, it is suggested that America's hunger for docudrama emerged during the Watergate scandal of the early 1970's. Americans were searching for different viewpoints on the newsmakers of the day and of the past. A new "twist" so to speak. There is also a suggestion that the taboos of past generations, especially when dealing with public figures and events, fell away during the late 20th century, creating an audience that was more willing to believe other than what was spoon-fed them. Public Television is also credited with bringing about the heyday of the docudrama, with its gritty worldview, and British influence, (Britain, incidentally, being the birthplace of docudrama according to the contributors). We would like to make a special note about chapter ten, which opens with some humorous if not ironic quotes about Hollywood's record with historic research. In this chapter there are some amusing anecdotes about how some of Hollywood's research is done. Chapter twenty is a must for any student of "History in the Movies," because it details probably one of the most daunting undertakings in Historical drama, Alex Haley's Roots, and the miniseries of the same title. If nothing else, Rosenthal's compilation will deepen the student's understanding of why docudrama sells time after time on the small screen, and how Hollywood has improved its own research techniques in the area of history while still maintaining the entertainment factor. (Annotation by Eileen Smith Zulli and Jeannine Capecci).

See Also

Adams, Phoebe. "Helter Skelter." The Atlantic Monthly 234 (Dec. 1974): 127.

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.