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In what way was "Roots" a docudrama? I only remember the drama part. Deb 15:58 Apr 21, 2003 (UTC)


I don't think the definition in this article of Docudrama is fully accurate. Maybe the definition is changing. A docudrama used to mean (and I thought still meant) "A television or movie dramatization of events based on fact" [1]

Notice how the term is used in this book review: [2]

So it used to mean any tv show or movie that dramatizes actual events; but now it also means, a documentary that also has actors playing parts. Maybe the new meaning is taking over? Kingturtle 22:37 Apr 21, 2003 (UTC)

I don't think it was ever as broad a term as you're suggesting. I admit I'm not familiar with most of the examples given, so I'll pick something I have seen. The film, "The Battle of Midway", is a dramatisation of real events, but it's not a docudrama, because it doesn't have that documentary element implicit in the word "docudrama". I thought the concept of docudrama was a relatively recent one, and that Culloden was an early example, ground-breaking in the way it used the documentary style, "interviewing" the actors rather than having them speaking dialogue, and so on. But as usual, I'm ready to be proved wrong. Deb 18:15 Apr 22, 2003 (UTC)
I agree that the definition may be shifting. But for a longtime docudrama was used to describe "fact-based representations of real events." [[3]...that is, taking facts, and basing a drama around it, like Roots or the Amy Fisher story. Note the way docudrama is used here: [4]. I don't think there is an official definition, and what it may have meant before might not apply now. Kingturtle 18:38 Apr 22, 2003 (UTC)
Yes, you're right. I notice that in that last reference, they say the programme "could have been a virtual docudrama", not even that it "could have been a docudrama". We'd probably need to trace back the term "documentary" as well, in order to get to a more acceptable definition. I'm happy with what's there now, except that I would say "describing" events rather than "showing" them. Deb 18:52 Apr 22, 2003 (UTC)

Docudrama does not equal documentary presented with "drama"[edit]

I disagree with this definition, and particularly with some of the examples.

A docudrama is a drama that recreates actual events in a theatricalized (live stage, film, video, audio) form. Most content in docudramas is not footage of actual events, although some actual footage may be used at times.

"America's Most Wanted" and "Hollywood True Stories" are not docudramas--they are (possibly bad) documentaries--they show (or purport to show) actual events. Even if they show actors reproducing events, they are not dramatic plays.

Evem something like "From the Journal's of Jean Seberg", a documentary that uses an actress to portray the (dead) Seberg, is simply a documentary that uses dramatic techniques.

"Roots" is also not a docudrama--it is a historical drama based on a novel.

"Peal Harbor" or "From Here to Eternity" are not docudramas because, although they concern true events, their main content is completely fictional.

"The Laramie Project," both the play and the film, is a docudrama. It is a recreation of actual conversations and events. There are also some written journals and transcripts that are performed, but still convey the facts as recorded.

Oil Storm[edit]

Was this a Docudrama? If so, I think it was noteworthy.

Merge with Docu-fiction[edit]

Docudrama and docu-fiction both seem to be dramatizations of real events. The articles ought to be merged. Docudrama is the more popular term, so it should stay. Ace of Sevens 12:36, 7 June 2006 (UTC)


Borat is not a docudrama. It's more of a mockumentary. And why isn't "Good Night, and Good Luck." on here?

Agree entirely with regard to Borat. As for Good Night..., I suspect it doesn't meet the article's criterion of "A strict focus on the facts of the event being treated, as they are known". As the earlier discussions on this page show, there is some vagueness about the exact cut-off point for determining what is or isn't a docudrama, but I would suggest that an essential aspect of it is that it depicts ONLY known events, without adding anything from the imagination. Thus, not all films based on true stories are docudramas - e.g. All The President's Men is not a docudrama. Barnabypage 14:53, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

The Day Britain Stopped[edit]

I don't understand why The Day Britain Stopped is listed as a "film docudrama of note" [5]. It is not a docudrama but a false documentary. There's a big difference! Also, Touching the Void and The Road to Guantanamo are listed as docudramas, when they are in fact documentaries (albeit including extensive footage of staged re-enactments). Moreover, the whole list of "TV series that utilize a docudrama style" is a bit odd. Shows like America's Most Wanted and Rescue 911 obviously owe a lot to the docudrama genre but it is going too far to have a list of them in this article. A filmed reenactment of one or two scenes is quite different from a docudrama. --Mathew5000 23:28, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Italic text"When we wish there's a hope that it may come true along with the hope is the luck to be chosen among thousand wishers with this once in a lifetime luck is the faith that whether our wish will come true or not we will still survive from the test of life...

An Inconvinient Truth[edit]

Is this considered a docudrama, or is it not considered a docudrama because of its references (scientificly supported) to predictions in the furture?

It's a doco. If it was a docudrama it's be like a normal movie.

Reality TV is not docudrama[edit]

I'm sorry, but America's Most Wanted, and certainly COPS, are not docudramas. A docudrama focuses on one real-life situation (either historical, or of current interest) and tells it in story-like fashion. The purpose is inform, as well as entertain.

  • COPS is not fictional at all; it is footage of real life.
  • America's Most Wanted doesn't qualify either, because its purpose is totally to inform the public and solicit help in catching criminals, not at all to entertain. It's also in anthology format unlike a docudrama, usually presenting more than one case per episode.

I also think the TV series section is probably inappropriate as well. Docudramas for TV are generally made as single movies, and I don't know that there are many series where one is presented every week. JustinTime55 (talk) 13:34, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

For similar reasons, I've removed Washington Heights from the TV series list, and transplanted it in Reality television#Documentary-style (under Subcultures) Cheers, Bjenks (talk) 06:52, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

Paranormal doesn't qualify[edit]

The same standards the Wikipedia applies to real-world subjects should be applied here, too. Films which dramatize alleged paranormal events can't qualify as docudrama, because the events are not uncontrovertably accepted as true. So I removed A Haunting. JustinTime55 (talk) 13:59, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

A Haunting is a perfect example of a docudrama. There is absolutely no rule that "paranormal doesn't qualify" or that a docudrama has to be based on uncontrovertable facts. That's like saying, "the facts in this book are disputed, so technically it's not a book." The term "docudrama" refers to a stylistic format, and the truth value is completely irrelevant. Minaker (talk) 05:51, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

Pit Boss[edit]

  • It's not proper to single out individual shows in the "See Also" section, which is intended for links to related subjects in Wikipedia. That's why there are lists of films and TV series higher up in the article; if the show qualified, that is where it would belong.
  • This show probably doesn't qualify as a docudrama; if the real person is depicted in it, it is reality television, not docudrama, which has actors playing the persons involved.
  • The link was improper (ambiguous): Pit Boss links to a casino supervisor; the TV show is Pit Boss (TV series) JustinTime55 (talk) 18:43, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

entire article based on an incorrect definition[edit]

In film school, I was always taught that the word "docudrama" has a very specific meaning, which bears no resemblance to the meaning given here. With all due respect to a previous (notably anonymous) editor who said the exact opposite I'm about to say, a docudrama is a documentary presented with drama, or, more specifically, a documentary that focuses on re-enactment to such a degree that it resembles a dramatic presentation as much as, or more than, it resembles a standard documentary. This is where the word comes from, it's a portmonteau of the words "documentary" and "drama" precisely because it blurs the lines between the two, whereas the vast majority of the examples listed on this page don't do anything of the kind, and are not docudramas by any stretch of the truth. And I'm not just some student whining about Wikipedia focusing on the standard use of the word, as opposed to the more formal use of the word that I'm used to in academic circles; until I came to this Wikipedia page, I've never seen the word used in such a broad manner that it includes every movie that is "based on a true story." The Discovery Channel series A Haunting, which purports to be a documentary series but almost exclusively features re-enactment footage, is a perfect example of a docudrama. Movies cited in this article, such as Bobby and Good Night, and Good Luck, are absolutely not. Minaker (talk) 05:49, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

David Bordwell's take on what a docudrama is[edit]

I was so sure -- so sure -- of my comments above that I had the audacity to contact famed and respected film historian David Bordwell and asked him for sources that could back up my claims about a narrower definition of the term "docudrama." I was surprised when he took the time to respond -- and did so with a "docudrama" definition that closely corresponds with the exact Wikipedia definition I was arguing against. My bad. Minaker (talk) 22:04, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

I know an email would not be considered a verifiable source by Wikipedia standards, but if anyone is interested in reading Mr. Bordwell's definition, it is below. Minaker (talk) 22:04, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

"like many terms arising from the context of film production or the filmmaking community, it has a couple of meanings.

"Most commonly, I think, it's used to describe a film that is staged and enacted but that is also based on events, usually topical ones of current interest, that actually occurred. From this angle, the Valerie Plame film FAIR GAME would be an example. I think that the term originated in TV, to describe telefilms based on such events; THE BURNING BED was an early example. It got transferred from TV to film.

"But there's an odd restriction on this sense of the term. I don't think it is typically used to describe historical recreations, say a film about the assassination of Lincoln. I'm not sure that Spielberg's AMISTAD would be called a docudrama, even though it uses historical documents. I never thought about it, but it seems that "docudrama" is usually reserved for quasi-fictional accounts of more or less contemporary events. Perhaps that's because only something fairly current could have had, originally, a documentary made about it--ie, the event was taking place in an era in which what happens could have been filmed. So a docudrama is typically topical and contemporary.

"I think there's alternative, rarer sense in which "docudrama" is used to describe a fiction film that presents wholly fictitious events but in the manner of a documentary. An example would be the telefilm SPECIAL REPORT, which presents a terrorist attack wholly through the mode of (staged) TV news bulletins. But this is a rare usage now, since a movie like CLOVERFIELD does this but would not probably be called a docudrama. I think the more common term would be "fake documentary" or "faux documentary" or "mockumentary" (another problematic term, used not only to talk about fiction films pretending to be docs--and so "mock" rather than authentic--but also fake docs that satirize their subject, like THIS IS SPINAL TAP)." -- David Bordwell

Keep to the definition[edit]

This article still seems to contain films that don't meet the definition of docudrama. The Day Britain Stopped is complete fiction (see the topic above), so doesn't qualify any more than The War of the Worlds (radio drama) would have. Neither do documentaries (Lost Tomb of Jesus) or mocumentaries (Execution of Gary Glitter]]). There may be more; I don't have time to go through them all. JustinTime55 (talk) 21:09, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Docudrama vs. Historical drama[edit]

What is the difference between Docudrama and Historical drama? Both are based on true events? קולנואני (talk) 17:12, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

  • Docudrama is presented in documentary format, mixed with actor reenactments of key scenes. Historical fiction is a fully dramatized recreation of a historical event. Some of the list is inaccurate; for example The Social Network is NOT docudrama, neither is 127 Hours and several others on the list, because they're not encased in documentary format (never mind that 127 Hours has a camera in it, it is still wholly reenacted, whereas The Social Network isn't documentary format whatsoever). Someone needs to update the list to take out ill-fitting examples that contain no actual documentary presentation. I'd do it, but I haven't seen all on the list. (talk) 21:51, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
    • Actually, the whole section of examples should probably be removed altogether. As the various messages above indicate, there is no universally accepted definition of the term. You (and others) view the documentary format as necessary. Others, such as the film historian mentioned above and the Museum of Broadcast Communications define the term quite specifically to include presentations that don't have any such format. It does little good to debate whether a specific instance meets the definition, when, in fact, there is no "*the* definition". (talk) 23:59, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
There is a further distinction which needs to be made between a docudrama and a dramatized documentary.
In a docudrama you have a dramatization which endeavours to follow the history and the facts, or at least claims to be doing so.
But a docudrama is still typically made for a drama audience, and can still take liberties that would be expected in an historical drama. So, a docudrama could have a composite character, for example, because you still need to tell a complete story in 90 minutes.
A dramatized documentary, on the other hand, is an actual documentary but with dramatized scenes. It's made for a documentary audience, which values the facts more highly than a polished story with 3-dimensional characters and no gaps.
I have sometimes seen the term "docudrama" being applied to what are in fact dramatized documentaries.
If it has interviews with participants or witnesses, then it's a documentary. If re-enactments are made with actors, then that's a dramatized documentary. If it is 100% re-enactment with actors, then that's a docudrama.
Varlaam (talk) 04:21, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Roots (1977)[edit]

That is not a good example to be citing since Roots, the book, was shown to have been plagiarized from a novel in its early sections.
Haley then added family yarns onto a novelistic core. So it's not the straight history book it was purported to be.
In style, it is not a docudrama. There are no tape recordings of what Kunta and Kizzy said. Their dialogue isn't coming out of someone's journal, or the minutes of a meeting, or a trial transcript.
It's an imagining of what they were like and what they might have said.
That's drama, not docudrama. There is nothing wrong with that, but it's not docudrama.
Varlaam (talk) 04:31, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

First of all this comment I am going to write is for my communications class. From the things that are written to this article it seems like they had more than one resource because it has a resource section and the reference and reliable because they are written in a proper and specific way. Also the article just have titles from movies and tv it doesn't have a description for each one. It distracted me because it doesn't have so much information for the movies, radio and television only about the history of docudrama and the characteristics but again it doesn't write many things about them too.Myrtokro (talk) 20:58, 11 September 2016 (UTC)