The Evolution of Documentary Genre

Documentaries have become one of the most popular genres in recent years. Many people are drawn to the idea of learning about real-life events and people, and documentaries provide a way to do that in a compelling and engaging way. But where did this genre come from? Let’s take a look at the history of the documentary genre.

Origins of Documentary

The documentary genre has its roots in non-fiction films, which were produced as early as the late 1800s. These films were often short and simple, focusing on everyday events or people. One of the earliest examples of a documentary film is the Lumière Brothers’ 1895 film, Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory.

As film technology improved, so did the scope and depth of documentary films. In the 1920s and 30s, filmmakers like Robert Flaherty began to create longer, more complex documentaries that explored the lives of people in different cultures and environments. Flaherty’s 1922 film, Nanook of the North, is considered one of the first feature-length documentaries.

The Rise of True Crime Documentaries

In recent years, true crime documentaries have become increasingly popular. Shows like Making a Murderer and The Jinx have captivated audiences with their in-depth looks at real-life crimes and criminals.

One of the earliest true crime documentaries was The Thin Blue Line, released in 1988. The film investigated the conviction of a man named Randall Dale Adams, who was sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. The film ultimately helped to exonerate Adams and led to his release from prison.

True crime documentaries continue to be popular today, with new shows and films being released regularly. These documentaries provide a way for viewers to learn about real-life crimes and the criminal justice system in a way that is both informative and entertaining.

Documentary TV Series

In addition to standalone documentaries, there are also many documentary TV series that have become popular in recent years. These series often explore a particular topic or theme in depth, with each episode focusing on a different aspect of that topic.

One example of a popular documentary series is Planet Earth, which explores the natural world and its many wonders. The series is known for its stunning visuals and in-depth exploration of different ecosystems around the world.

Other popular documentary series include Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, The Vietnam War, and The Crown. These series provide a way for viewers to learn about complex topics in a way that is both informative and engaging.


The documentary genre has come a long way since its early days in the late 1800s. Today, documentaries provide a way for viewers to learn about real-life events and people in a way that is both informative and entertaining. Whether you’re a fan of true crime documentaries or in-depth TV series, there is something for everyone in this ever-evolving genre.

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