Quick thought: Observer vs. the Spectator
Change is inevitable, in todays spectrum of technology induced with influxes of multi-media we are changing by the second. This goes hand-in-hand with observational cinema. "Observational cinema" was a term coined to designate films that were separated from earlier anthropological approaches toward the recording of social and cultural practice. These films were dry as toast, very scientific, factual and very stale.
Dead Birds Scene by Robert Gardner
Coming of the Dial by British General Post Office
The Malinowskian revolution of the 1920s, a Polish anthropologist, was at the leading edge of this discipline, the study of practical anthropology which is now termed applied anthropology. "Malinowski's greatness lay in his ability to penetrate the web of theories to the real man, boasting, hypocritical, earthy, and reasonable, and he passed on to his students an invaluable awareness of the tension which is always there between what people say and what they do, between individual interests and the social order. "It was Malinowski too who was the first to show the way in which the principle of reciprocity might serve to bind the individual, in his own interests to the community.", Adam Kuper. His concepts and view towards awareness of documenting cultural practices kicked off and sparked the interest in Colin Young, who published an article in 1975 that in turn decisively named this specific genre of anthropologic cinematic production "observational cinema." These changes is cinematic developments occurred due to he fact that the filmmaking practices and technology were changing, and Colin Young was a leader in that film making experimentation.
It started to be a twist between the observer vs. the spectator.
Observer: someone or something that observes
Spectator: person who looks on or watches; onlooker; observer
What is the difference? Then and now?
As a culture, especially after the World War II we stepped into a different realm of cinema, knowing that the Italian neorealism formulated, "highly manipulative classical melodrama" and "no longer patronized or manipulated the viewer was now included as an active participant in the generation of the film's meaning." Young considered observational cinema "deceptively simple."
Example of this is one of the best movies ever made:
The Bicycle Thief (full movie) by Vittorio De Sica
Even the documentary film maker John Grierson also turned from "rhetoric and bombast" cinema after WWII to turning "working men into horses", along with André Bazin, who understood the primary significance of their work lay in the distinctive perspective, of what he called "revolutionary humanism", that articulated toward contemporary realities, plus, the active engagement on the part of the viewer.
As we stand today, observational cinema has hit new heights with reality shows, independent films, podcasts, Facebook, Vimeo, etc. and far more important is the accessibility to connect with others with relative ease. We are able to research, develop and distribute media with great capacities enabling us to better understand what and where we involve ourselves. It is simple, we have now simply sat back, and realized the story we need to tell is not always ours.
"The oblique paradox of propaganda is that the lie in the throat becomes, by repetition, the truth in the heart." John Grierson