Bill Nichols and the Discourse of Sobriety

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Do mockumentary films retain any trace of the ’discourse of sobriety’? Throughout film history, documentary and fiction films have denoted the polar opposites of film form with each representing two distinct and separate traditions, the cinema of reality and the cinema of fiction (Doherty 16). However what was once a clear distinction has become blurred as the increasing popularity of mockumentary continues to weaken the assumed boundaries between fact and fiction (Sicinski). Prior to this ‘blurring of the lines’ the documentary genre enjoyed a privileged position amongst screen forms due its ‘the truth claim’ (Glick). Reflecting Bill Nichols’ observation that documentary employs the ‘discourse of sobriety’ (3), the truth claim is…show more content…
Despite multiple documentary conventions being incorporated throughout the film, 24 hour Party People retains little trace of sobriety as Winterbottom’s use of interviews, direct address, archival footage and narration aims to portray a predominantly fictional world as an actual real world, rather than depicting the world as it is. Although real archival footage of Joy Division performing at Wilson’s club, as well as actual footage of Wilson’s television show Granada Tonight is used throughout the film, Winterbottom ensures that such footage is subtly interwoven within sequences of fictional events thus eliminating any trace of sobriety that the use of real footage may have allowed for. Furthermore it can be argued that 24 hour Party People retains little evidence of Bill Nichols’ observation that documentary employs the ‘discourse of sobriety’, as a number of incidents are exaggerated throughout the film. For example, following a scene in which Wilson’s wife is shown ‘getting close’ with musician Howard Devoto, the cleaner present in the scene faces the camera, reveals himself as the real Howard Devoto and states that he has no recollection of

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