Documentary: What is the Expository Mode?

Documentary - British Documentary Movement - Reflexive Mode - Participatory Mode - Observational Mode - Performative Mode - Observational Mode - Documentary Mode - Mode - Expository Mode - Poetic Mode

The Expository mode stresses the importance of creating an impression of authenticity and having a well-supported argument.

Unlike the Poetic Mode, the Expository Mode of documentary addresses the viewer directly and does this through the use of titles and/or voice-over to add a perspective or argument to what is shown in the film. A common feature found in this mode is the “voice of God” commentary (narration without seeing the person in the film). The commentary gives an impression of omniscience and therefore causes the audience to associate it with objectivity. Expository mode gives the idea that it is able to judge things in the historical world without actually getting caught up in them; the tone of these documentaries is often authoritative.

Imagery in this style of documentary is used to support what is being said as a way to “illustrate, illuminate, revoke or act in counterpoint to what is said.” The commentary on the other worked as a way to organise the images and make sense of them. When it comes to editing in expository mode documentary, there is less of an emphasis on creating patterns and rhythms and more on keeping the continuity of the argument and perspective. This is known as evidentiary editing.

The Expository mode is one of the six modes of documentary outlined by Bill Nichols.

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