A Brief History

I found the documentary “A Brief History of John Baldessari” to be entertaining, unique, and funny.  Right from the start it grabs your attention when the narrator says, “This is John Baldessari’s pencil.”  And goes on to list and show a few other items of John Baldessari’s, and eventually, John Baldessari himself.  Compared to the other documentaries, this one is very light and fun.  There are many sound effects and the documentary is extremely visual and colorful.

This documentary does tell a story—a brief history—about the subject who is an artist.  However, I did have trouble classifying it as one of the documentary modes of representation.  I guess it would be predominantly expository because the images were very illustrative, but I’m not sure that the commentary necessarily dominates.  Both image and narration go together, neither would be as influential with out the other. Additionally, it combined the narration of Baldessari’s life along with an interview with him.  Much like the entire video itself, the interview was not formal, but also very light and interactive with the narrator, Tom Waits, who we are told was a childhood friend of Baldessari’s.

The tone the director gives, is a unique and fun way to present information. I had never heard of John Baldessari, but the director made me interested and eager to learn about this artist and his work.  I think it keeps you interested because you didn’t know what was going to happen next.

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