Outline the arguments about the reliability of documentaries as ways of representing reality.
"How did they get that footage?" This is a question that we always ask when watching documentaries on television. The truth of it all is that some of it is set-up. I am going to outline some of the arguments for and against the reconstruction of events and their use in documentary today.
One argument would be that documentary is destroyed as an idea if reconstructions and set-ups are used. This is because the main aim of documentary is to bring the viewer facts and truth, whereas if the documentary brings a reconstruction or a set-up into the program, the whole idea and purpose of the documentary is ripped apart. By being deceitful to the viewers, the "observing fact" theory of documentary is destroyed and the audiences viewing experience is blurred, taking the fun and also the whole point behind the program out of it.
However, another argument would be that reconstructions and set-ups in documentaries have always been used since the beginning of documentary filming. The set-ups were used because actual footage could not be obtained due to the lack of technology. The first set up was used in the first piece of documentary from 1895 in the Lumiere Brothers "Workers Leaving The Factory". The camera was positioned and the Lumiere brothers asked the workers to walk out in an orderly fashion past the camera not looking at it. This set-up was used in the first piece of film made and then it was reproduced in most, if not all documentaries. For example, a documentary called "Drifters" created by the so-called "Father of Documentary" in 1929 consisted of a boat out in the sea hauling in fish. This was later found to be one large set-up, made out of a boat on land and pre-caught fish, yet no one was any wiser. .
Later on in the timeline of documentary, "The Family" was born, the first ever "fly-on-the wall" documentary.