Whether you’re still in classes or have graduated into the working world, the spark of learning never truly leaves us and these carefully crafted films and series have all the benefits of study without sacrificing entertainment. Nothing else quite scratches that itch and the true documentary junkie is always hungry for any subject from nature, to culture, to true crime. Look no further, because we’ve got just the fix you need with six great documentaries you can watch right now.
This is a guest blog post by Peter Fobian.
A bizarre documentary that takes a look at the pseudoscience of film interpretation through the lense of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. It presents 9 different perspectives on the hidden meaning and symbology of the film with theories about Kubrick’s true intentions for the film being the Native American genocide, the Holocaust, and even a secret message that Kubrick directed the “faked” moon landing. What’s interesting about Room 237 is that it takes each theory seriously and allows it proponent to make their argument and the audience to decide. Which you choose as the true interpretation, if any, is up to you.
A look inside one of the most famous animation studios in the world, Studio Ghibli. This film follows the simultaneous production of The Wind Rises and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, including a look into the work of the legend himself, Hayao Miyazaki, director Isao Takahata, and producer Toshio Suzuki. It delves deeply into the history and work of the studio, providing a unique perspective of the both the creative process and bureaucratic efforts that have created some of the most imaginative and beloved films of the past 30 years.
A two-part series on the life of one of the greatest conquerors in history, Alexander of Macedonia.The first episode begins with Alexander’s portetend birth and focuses on his rearing as the heir to Macedonia, the conflict between his parents, and the political environment that shaped him. The second continues into his rule and campaigns from the Mediterranean sea to the edge of the known world, his death, and his legacy. The documentary has a cinematic flair, featuring dramatic reenactments or imaginings to make Alexander less historic and more human.
Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the diesel engine, vanished without a trace in transit across the English channel in 1913. This documentary looks into the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and the popular theory that he was murdered by agents of Germany, which sought exclusive rights to the diesel engine and feared it falling into British hands. The film touches upon the impact of Diesel’s career and the legacy of his most famous invention, revolutionizing agriculture, transportation, and shipping.
A documentary dedicated to one of humanity’s greatest eye in the heaven, the Hubble Space Telescope. Rather than focus on the very interesting history of the satellite, this shorter film spends its time focusing on the science of how its pictures are taken, starting out with black and white images and composited by scientists in Maryland different with different wavelengths of light to create the marvelous color images we associate with Hubble. It also takes a deep dive into the celestial structures that Hubble has shown us over the years.
A look into the life of man’s best friend exploring the unique biology of dogs, one of the most diverse mammals on the planet. Be awed by cute footage as the film follows the lifecycle of a dog from a vulnerable puppy to pets, hunters, and workers. Using science and slow-motion photography, it gets granular analyzing their remarkable intelligence, olfactory prowess, and even the physics behind how dogs lap up, or shake off, water. It even explores the complicated, surprisingly sympathetic, relationship between humans and dogs.
If you’ve arrived at this paragraph, I can only assume you’ve voraciously consumed the entire list, but, in the unlikely event that you weren’t able to find a documentary just for you, we have an entire channel dedicated to them in Curiosity Stream. Since documentaries both entertain and inform, you can be guilt-free binging to your heart’s content, knowing that’ll you’ll come away wiser for it.
Peter Fobian can be found on Crunchyroll, where he is the Features and Reviews Editor for Crunchyroll, author of Monthly Mangaka Spotlight, and writer for Anime Academy. He is also a contributor at Anime Feminist. You can follow him on Twitter @PeterFobian.