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Abstract

In his paper, "A New Look at Robert J. Flaherty's Documentary Art," Gerhard Lampe challenges the general view of documentary film director Robert J. Flaherty's work. In film studies, it is generally assumed that Flaherty ignored cinematographic developments and kept repeating himself by telling his stories of mythical battles of the individual against the powers of nature in always the same old-fashioned way. He is said to have improved his "photographic eye" with the help of improved lenses and more detailed shots; nevertheless, he did not show any interest in editing problems and sound recording. By comparing Flaherty's Nanook of the North (1922), Moana (1923-25), and Man of Aran (1934), Lampe shows that the continuity-editing-system and 180° system which emerged in Hollywood at the time of the transition from silent to sound production was also adopted by Flaherty in his films. Lampe argues that Flaherty in fact modernised his cinematographic style after shooting the semi-documentary "Paramount"-film Taboo (1929-30) with Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau.

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