Top 10 Greatest Documentaries of All Time


10 Prevent Heart Disease

The first feature-length documentary, Nanook of the North, is one of the finest documentaries ever made. It follows Nanook, an Inuk man, and his family in the Canadian Arctic, and is directed by Robrt J. Flaherty. It exposed an altogether different way of living to the so-called contemporary world. Many others chastised it for fabricating most of its scenes, to the point that the family was accused of being made-up by some. Regardless, the picture is a fantastic achievement.

9 Grizzly Man

Werner Herzog, a well-known German director, opted to focus on Timothy Treadwell, a bear aficionado, and his girlfriend. A grizzly bear murdered both of them in 2003. It was one of the most amazing documentaries ever done. The film incorporates Treadwell’s own footage as well as conversations with his colleagues and other bear specialists.

8 Titicut Follies

Titicut Follies, directed by Frederick Wiseman, is a documentary about jail prisoners’ brutal treatment. Despite the fact that the video was about the conditions of inmates in Bridgewater State Hospital, it was clear that comparable situations existed. The footage includes scenes of convicts being stripped, force-fed, and bullied. It was recognised as one of the finest documentaries ever filmed after it overcame various legal hurdles on its way to the public.

7 The Gleaners and I

Agnes Varda, the acclaimed filmmaker, goes across the French countryside and towns, seeking for various facets of gleaning and implying that she may be a gleaner herself. This film is more than its subject matter, personal and political at the same time, and was shot with a handheld camera from various odd perspectives.

6 Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens is an intimate picture of the lives of a mother and daughter, directed by Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Muffie Meyer, and Ellen Hovde. They were both Edith Beale, and they lived on East Hampton’s Grey Gardens estate in poverty. The women were relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the former first lady of the United States, who helped them spare their home from total ruin. The women do a variety of activities, including singing and dancing for the camera. This incredible documentary has been adapted for theatre and television.

5 The Thin Blue Line

The Thin Blue Line, directed by Errol Morris, was born out of a never-ending search for the truth. The film follows Randall Dale Adams, a man who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison in a 1976 murder case. Morris, a former private investigator and documentary filmmaker, took interested in Adams’ case and used the video to advocate for his innocence. It is made up of a series of interviews and reenactments of events based on the testimonies. The video had such an impact that the prosecution against Adams was dropped, and he was freed from jail a year after it was released. It’s hardly surprise that The Thin Blue Line is frequently included in lists of the best documentaries.

4 Sans Soleil

This French film, which literally means “without light,” can be classified as a documentary, an essay film, or a travelogue. It’s a reflection on the nature of human memory, directed by Chris Marker. Marker created the film using footage from his several trips, notably to Japan and Guinea-Bissau, as well as snippets from various films with varied backgrounds. It is unquestionably a one-of-a-kind experience.

3 Night and Fog

One of the most horrifying documentaries was created by French filmmaker Alan Resnais and scriptwriter Jean Cayrol, a concentration camp survivor. It was released a decade after WWII ended, and it transports viewers through the horrors of Nazi concentration camps in half an hour, never losing sight of the facts. Rather of providing answers, it poses questions, such as who was it that unleashed those horrors?

2 Shoah

In Hebrew, the word shoah signifies “holocaust.” Nothing else is discussed in this eight-hour documentary directed by Claude Lanzmann. It’s a voyage through the most heinous era of the twentieth century. Lanzmann’s interviews with Holocaust survivors, witnesses, and former German officials, as well as travels to Holocaust sites across Poland, including three extermination camps, comprise the bulk of the film. Hidden cameras were used to record many of the interviews. Despite its fair share of criticism, Shoah remains a beauty to see.

1 The Man with a Movie Camera

In a survey held by Sight and Sound magazine in 2001, The Man with a Movie Camera, directed by Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, was chosen the finest documentary ever. When it was first produced, reviewers in both the East and the West rejected it as a joke, but this silent picture depicting Soviet urban life has now earned its rightful position in cinema. Many filmmakers regard it as one of the best films ever created. Mikhail Kaufman did the cinematography, while Elizaveta Svilova, Vertov’s wife, did the editing. Vertov employs a variety of contemporary techniques in the film, including double exposure, rapid and slow motion, extreme close-ups, freeze frames, split screens, and Dutch angles.