Netflix. *sigh* Sometimes it is hard to find something new to watch and their suggested videos just seem to be things you have already watched. Hopefully this will help you out of your Netflix drought. These are just a few of my favorite documentaries that I have discovered over the last six months. They are listed in no particular order, but all are amazing and worth a watch.
I actually found this by accident as I was searching for a movie from my childhood. But what a great mistake. Dinosaur 13 is easily one of my favorite documentaries on Netflix. It tells the story of the paleontologists and researchers who discovered the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found (the famous Sue, which now resides in the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History). But this documentary is not just about dinosaur bones. While a team of preparators began to clean the bones the FBI and soon after the National Guard showed up with a warrant to take the dinosaur. And they did. What follows is a crazy insane legal battle that includes actual jail time, millions of dollars trading hands, and other crazy things that you would never expect to be involved with a dinosaur skeleton. This one is a must watch!
Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery
This documentary really shows that something as simple as a signature changes the whole way we perceive a piece of art and its value. Beltracchi used his insane skills to his advantage to create works of art that are “missing” from famous artists collections. Maybe a piece that was mentioned in literature but has since been lost, or a piece that looks like it could belong with the rest of a collection. Using old canvases bought from flea markets and after mixing his own paints, he created fake masterpieces. He even went as far as to stage old photographs with the paintings in the background to help the forgeries have a history and appear more authentic. It you like art or crime or art crime, this one is for you. Edit: I should maybe give a heads up, this one is entirely in French so you will have to watch it with subtitles.
An Honest Liar
“Magicians are the most honest people in the world. They tell you they’re going to fool you, and then they do it.” -The Great Randi
After The Great Randi retired from stage magic, he turned to challenging paranormal claims and debunking frauds. He was especially bothered by people who used their “magic” to take advantage of people who didn’t know better and spent 30+ years exposing psychics, spoon benders, and faith healers. You have probably even heard of several of these debunkings and didn’t know it was all the same man that proved them to be hoaxes.
The Propaganda Game
Everything you know about North Korea is wrong. Or is it? I still don’t know. This documentary honestly raised more questions than it answered. But sometimes I like it that way. It was filmed by a Spanish film director who had a connection with the only non-Korean man in the North Korean government and was allowed to film some of the things that happen within the country. There are several interviews with citizens about what they think about the rest of the world (especially America), and many who wanted to set the record straight about stories that us outsiders may have heard about this mysterious country and its leaders.
Secrets of Underground London
You may think you know what London looks like, but beneath it is all kinds of historic secrets you may never have even thought about. This documentary is very well written and covers so much history. It tells stories of ancient roman ruins, haunted caves, vaults of silver, mass graves from the days of the plague, as well as secret bunkers and bomb shelters and the digging of famous Thames Tunnel two hundred years ago.
Sorry, I couldn’t find a trailer for this one.
This was unlike any documentary I’ve ever seen. Imagine all the leftover film from the Planet Earth or Human Planet series all put together in one movie with beautiful music and no narration this is what you get. The filming is just breathtaking!
Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
Have you ever wanted to just move away to the mountains and love on your own? That’s exactly what these people do. Yes it looks freezing because it’s northern Russia, but the snow is beautiful and you can really understand why the simple freedom makes these people so happy. The guy even makes his own pair of skis from a tree he chops down!
This one was much more up close and personal than any of the others on this list. This simply shows a few days in the life of six different dancers as they train and perform in one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in hopes or winning scholarships or being hired by a dance company. It feels very raw and really shows you what ballet looks like from young dancers’ perspectives.
Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace: Hampton Court
So you may know a bit about Henry VIII and the whole thing where he killed a bunch of his wives. Well this talks a little bit about his home life and history while showing his crazy large palace. From the immense kitchens where meals for up to 1,000 guests where prepared every day, to the indoor tennis court, to his royal lavatory chamber, and of course his great court (where the term eavesdropper originated, but I won’t spoil it for you).