is a dramatization
of actual historical events.
Docudramas tend to demonstrate some or most of the following characteristics:
- A focus on the facts of the event being treated, as they are known;
- The use of literary and narrative techniques to flesh out or render story-like the bare facts of an event in history;
- A tendency to avoid overt commentary and explicit assertion of the creator's own point of view or beliefs.
Docudramas, then, are distinct both from the main line of historical fiction, in which the historical setting is a mere backdrop for a plot that could be set in many periods, and from straight documentary or journalistic writing in its creation of a coherent narrative out of the materials of history.
The impulse to incorporate historical material into literary texts has been an intermittent feature of literature in the west since its earliest days. Aristotle
's theory of art is based on the use of putatively historical events and characters. Especially after the development of modern mass-produced literature, there have been genres that relied on history or then-current events for material. English Renaissance
drama, for example, developed sub-genres specifically devoted to dramatizing recent murders and notorious cases of witchcraft.
However, docudrama as a separate category belongs to the second half of the twentieth century. The influence of New Journalism tended to create a license for authors to treat with literary techniques material that might in an earlier age have been approached in a purely journalistic way. Both Truman Capote and Norman Mailer were influenced by this movement, and Capote's In Cold Blood is arguably the most famous example of the genre.
Film docudramas of note
- Docudrama in MBC (The Museum of Broadcast Communication - Article)
- Hellmann, John (1981). Fables of Fact: The New Journalism as New Fiction. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
- Kazin, Alfred (1973). Bright Book of Life: American Hot Dogs and Storytellers from Hemingway to Mailer. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press.
- Lukacs, Georg (1983). The Historical Novel. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
- Siegle, Robert (1984). "Capote's Hand-Carved Coffins and the Nonfiction Novel." Contemporary Literature 25 (1984): 437-451.
- Stavreva, Kirilka (2000). "Fighting Words: Witch-speak in Late Elizabethan Docu-fiction." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30 (2000): 309-338.
- White, Hayden (1985). Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.