10 Of The Best Must-See Documentaries (Including Full Videos)
Touching the Void
Two men ascended one of the most difficult climbing faces in the world, but the climb was the easy part. The descent would cause one of them to make the most difficult decision of his life, while it would cause the other to have to face death. This movie documents the acts of the two men and the long lasting effects on them, physically and psychologically. Not a true documentary in that it is a recreation of events, it is nonetheless dark, and makes you ponder one of the darkest questions a human can be faced with. It also manages to provide a light at the end of the tunnel, in showing that even the worst situations can have a positive outcome if Lady Luck intervenes.
A documentary that spans the breadth of emotions, Armadillo studies the deployment of a group of Danish soldiers to the front lines of Afganistan, to a forward operating base called Armadillo. A study in bravery and behavior, the movie probes in to how young men address a war they don’t understand, where the enemy can be the villager standing next to them. Graphic and controversial, with raw film directly from firefights, the filmmakers take an unflinching stance, and are willing to depict the events in authentic fashion. The behavior of the soldiers is crass, sometimes borderline criminal, but it is never fake. It is a look at the psychology of young soldiers in war that must be seen.
Night and Fog
An incredibly stark documentary that tries to take an even-handed look at one of the worst atrocities in the history of the world, this film is a short, straight-forward look at the concentration camps of the Holocaust. Blending together two generations of footage, it explains the processes of the plants, the conditions faced by inmates, and the processes the camps operated by. Often graphic, with footage of camp conditions from archives, this movie created controversy in Europe and Israel, and faced censorship a number of times, although the full movie is now available. Night and Fog is considered today one of the greatest documentaries ever made.
A gory look at the drive hunt harvesting of dolphins in Japan, The Cove is a decidedly one-sided film, shot from the point of conservationists. It is a look at the culture of the drive hunting as part of the Japanese culture, and also at the efforts of the Japanese political machine to cover up these events, even from their own people. It has stirred up a great amount of controversy around the world, but has also received a great amount of recognition for the effort behind the making of the film and the quality of the picture itself, not necessarily the message it tries to convey.
A cautionary tale of the difficulties that come from sudden success, this film chronicles the rise and fall of Troy Duffy, a musician and filmmaker best known for being the writer and director of The Boondock Saints. This movie demonstrates how the ego and attitude of a newly-minted, arrogant hot-shot can destroy their career before it even starts. Through insulting and alienating Hollywood power players, Duffy manages to destroy his opportunity in Hollywood before it has a chance to blossom. The film is harsh, and at some times makes Duffy appear almost as a caricature of a boor, but it is true to life and a great example for ambitious writers on how not to conduct one’s self.