Of fact and fiction : representing science in entertainment films

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


With a long history of blending science and entertainment, documentaries are the natural candidate for communicating science to the public. Nonetheless, ever since Flaherty asked Nanook to put away his rifle, documentary filmmakers have been altering, exaggerating, or even outright fabricating the realities they claim to represent. My thesis film, 'Life on Ice: An Adventure to Remember', 2013, represents my attempt to make explicit the tension between factual fidelity and narrative expedience within the context of a science documentary. In this essay I will analyze my thesis film, 'Life on Ice', and the films that inspired it, in order to understand the consequences of compromising the factual integrity of a film in favour of its narrative or aesthetic. My purpose with this analysis is to make clear the pitfalls inherent in making factual entertainment films.


Machine + Life on ice are films that are part of the student's thesis project.



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