The 29 best documentaries

by PetrosTser | created - 25 Oct 2015 | updated - 31 Jan 2018 | Public


My favourite docs, mostly concerning music and cinema, from "The Song Remains the Same" (1976) to "Forever and a Day" (2015).

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1. Iron Maiden: Live After Death (1985 Video)

R | 90 min | Documentary, Music

Part of their World Slavery Tour, this, their Long Beach Arena shows, have finally come to the format of DVD. Bringing you the early tracks of their career and with the themes and backdrops... See full summary »

Director: James Yukich | Stars: Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain

Votes: 1,341

2. Queensrÿche: Operation Livecrime (1991 Video)

64 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

US heavy metal band Queensrÿche performs live their classic 1988 concept album Operation: Mindcrime in this concert film.

Director: Wayne Isham | Stars: Queensrÿche, Geoff Tate, Chris De Garmo, Michael Wilton

Votes: 116

3. Rammstein: Völkerball (2006 Video)

102 min | Documentary, Music

German heavy metal band Rammstein embarked on their wildly successful Ahoi Tour which took them around the world from 2004-2005. Völkerball consists of live footage from around the world ... See full summary »

Directors: Emanuel Fialik, Hamish Hamilton | Stars: Rammstein, Till Lindemann, Richard Kruspe, Flake Lorenz

Votes: 343

4. History of Iron Maiden: Part 2 (2008)

60 min | Documentary, Music

An extension from the end of the "The Early Days" documentary, this is a look into the bands past from the start of their "Powerslave" album days, and beyond, and the "World Slavery Tour" which followed.

Director: Matthew Amos | Stars: Bruce Dickinson, Ross Halfin, Steve Harris, Iron Maiden

Votes: 62

5. The History of Rock 'n' Roll (1995)
Episode: Plugging In (1995)

60 min | Documentary, History, Music

This episode examines the expanding electric music scene.

Director: Susan Steinberg | Stars: Steve Allen, Al Aronowitz, Joan Baez, The Beach Boys

Votes: 139

6. The History of Rock 'n' Roll (1995)
Episode: Guitar Heroes (1995)

60 min | Documentary, History, Music

Les Paul's invention of the electric guitar paved the way for later Rock 'n' Roll guitar heroes.

Director: Marc Sachnoff | Stars: Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Jeffrey Baxter, Jeff Beck

Votes: 128

7. The History of Rock 'n' Roll (1995)
Episode: The '70s: Have a Nice Decade (1995)

60 min | Documentary, History, Music

This episode reviews the development of Rock 'n' Roll music of the 1970s.

Stars: Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Jeffrey Baxter, Dickey Betts

Votes: 137

10. The Scorpions: Moment of Glory (Live with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) (2001 TV Special)

Unrated | 108 min | Music

A "reunion" concert of sorts, featuring the Scorpions biggest hits.

Director: Pit Weyrich | Stars: Matthias Jabs, Christian Kolonovits, Klaus Meine, Ralph Rieckermann

Votes: 116

A fabulous concert. Unlike most projects of this kind, Scorpions and Kolonovits have made it. The band's classic anthems have been beautifully mingled with impressive work by the orchestra. Of course, Scorpions' performance is energetic as always, Schenker running and jumping all the time. Excellently shot and filled with absolutely monumental music.

11. Black Sabbath: The Last Supper (1999 Video)

106 min | Documentary, Music

Mix of interviews with the original band members and a live performance recorded at Ozzfest 1999 during the band's reunion tour.

Directors: Jeb Brien, Monica Hardiman | Stars: Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward

Votes: 405

Black Sabbath, a mythical band, back on stage again. All four members are on top form, while Ozzy (despite the fact he cannot even speak properly) is jumping like a five-year old, throwing buckets with water to the crowd and displaying his ass with pride - just like the good ol' times. Only drawback the long talks between the tracks - it could (and should) have been simply divided into two parts: concert and talk.

A very interesting insight in the making of Chaplin's underrated 1923 drama, "A Woman of Paris". The narration offers all you need to know about the film's creation, Liv Ullmann gives a really good analysis of various aspects of the movie, Michael Powell talks about the impact it had on himself and places it in historical perspective, and there's also a re-enactment of the voices of editor Monta Bell and usual Chaplin DOP Roland Totheroh giving us interesting pieces of information.

13. Deep Purple: History, Hits & Highlights (2009 Video)

287 min | Documentary, Music

A performance film compilation of the British rock band, Deep Purple. This compilation consists of television performances, promo films, and excerpts of concerts that were filmed between 1968 through 1976.

Stars: Ritchie Blackmore, Tommy Bolin, David Coverdale, Rod Evans

Votes: 15

15. The Doors Collection (1999 Video)

172 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

A collection of short films, interviews and concert footage of the '60s rock band The Doors.

Directors: Ray Manzarek, Rick Schmidlin | Stars: John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison

Votes: 295

A special collection that includes a load of rare footage, exciting live performances and bonus videos.

16. The Doors: Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1987 Video)

62 min | Documentary, Music

A 1968 concert given by the rock group The Doors at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California.

Director: Ray Manzarek | Stars: Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore

Votes: 602

A package of very rare archive footage from a live Doors performance that dates back to July 1968. The camera work is worse than an amateur's, but you can't resist the power of the greatest psychedelic/ Californian rock band in the world.

With a running time at about three quarters of an hour, this Doors documentary is easy to comprehend, features great music and is not tiring at all. It doesn't go really deep into the personalities of them four and doesn't examine their work but includes rare on- and off-stage footage in an absorbing and wholly enjoyable format.

18. Finding Leo (2005 Video)

10 min | Documentary, Short

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant try to contact Leonardo DiCaprio after Jude Law pulls out of a guest appearance in Extras (2005).

Stars: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant

Votes: 27

Ten minutes of unhinged hilarity. The behind-the-scenes madness of two of British TV's funniest caught spontaneously on camera, as they try to contact one of the world's biggest movie stars with a deadline looming. Intriguing backstage access meets real-life funny in this little DIY vid.

19. Forever and a Day: Scorpions (2015)

Not Rated | 100 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

A documentary on the rock band, The Scorpions.

Director: Katja von Garnier | Stars: Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Matthias Jabs, James Kottak

Votes: 94

Scorpions' career being not only very long but also very unique means a doc will always leave things to be desired (interviews with or at least mentions of all ex-members, more footage from certain eras etc.) but also highlights the triumph of capturing what the band is all about in just 100 mins: the vision, commitment and friendship; the background, glory days, ups and downs. In between rousing live vids, intimate interviews and spontaneous backstage clips this strikes quite the (power) chord.

20. Hitchcock and Dial M (2004 Video)

22 min | Documentary, Short

A retrospective look at the brilliance of Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder.

Director: Laurent Bouzereau | Stars: Peter Bogdanovich, Robert Osborne, M. Night Shyamalan, Richard Franklin

Votes: 91

21. Iron Maiden: Flight 666 (2009)

112 min | Documentary, Music

A chronological account of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden's 2008 world tour through India, Australia, Japan, USA, Canada, Mexico and South America in a jet piloted by the band's front man, Bruce Dickinson. Features interviews with the musicians, their road crew and fans.

Directors: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen | Stars: Iron Maiden, Vinny Appice, Pat Cash, Bruce Dickinson

Votes: 5,020

If you're a Maiden fan like I am this is a must-see. But even if you're not, it remains a very interesting story, a well-directed insight into a phenomenon of a band. The music is of course great and the band members are likable as always but what makes this special is that it combines priceless backstage access, interviews and live clips - and all that at an interesting time in the band's career, put together masterfully in an exhilarating whole and sprinkled with a welcome multicultural scent.

22. It Might Get Loud (2008)

PG | 98 min | Documentary, Music

70 Metascore

A documentary on the electric guitar from the point of view of three significant rock musicians: the Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White.

Director: Davis Guggenheim | Stars: Jimmy Page, The Edge, Jack White, Dallas Schoo

Votes: 11,964 | Gross: $1.61M

The guitar god that is Jimmy Page, the always-experimenting, so stripped-down and yet so touching Jack White and the mad-with-technology idiot that is The Edge in one film about the guitar. It's bound to be good. "It Might Get Loud" mostly consists of relatively well-written overlapping stories and some high voltage jamming, yet there should have been more of the latter and less of the former. Still, the extras located on the DVD release of the film make up for it.

23. L.A. Confidential: Off the Record... (1998 Video)

19 min | Documentary, Short

An inside look at the now classic film L.A. Confidential (1997), featuring interviews with writer/director Curtis Hanson, his co-writer Brian Helgeland sharing their challenges, concepts ... See full summary »

Director: Bruce Stuart Greenberg | Stars: Curtis Hanson, James Ellroy, David L. Wolper, Brian Helgeland

Votes: 83

24. Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)

R | 77 min | Documentary, Comedy, Musical

The Monty Python troupe perform a combination of classic sketches and new material at the Hollywood Bowl.

Directors: Terry Hughes, Ian MacNaughton | Stars: John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman

Votes: 12,788 | Gross: $0.33M

Typically witty stand-up comedy by the Pythons.

25. The Pink Panther Story (2003 Video)

29 min | Documentary, Short

Documentary about the creation of the Pink Panther movies including interviews with the crew cast.

Director: John Cork | Stars: Blake Edwards, Ralph E. Winters, Ed Sikov, Walter Mirisch

Votes: 64

Very insightful. Key people sharing their experiences and emotions regarding the making of one of the greatest comedic franchises of all times.

This is as good as short docs get.

27. Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same (1976)

PG | 137 min | Documentary, Music

A documentary of a Led Zeppelin tour mixed with live concert footage, a unique fantasy, and interviews with those involved with the band.

Directors: Peter Clifton, Joe Massot | Stars: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham

Votes: 7,317

28. Tenacious D: The Complete Masterworks (2003 Video)

Not Rated | 206 min | Documentary, Comedy, Music

This DVD Release (Complete Masterworks) contains the groundbreaking, hard to get (legally), HBO episodes which tell the tale of The D in their early days on the road to stardom. Also ... See full summary »

Directors: Tom Gianas, Spike Jonze, Liam Lynch, Troy Miller, Dave Skinner, Gabe Swarr | Stars: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Scott Adsit, Dave Allen

Votes: 1,608

A very good acoustic show featuring a lot of songs from the band's debut plus covers and more, the satisfying "Tenacious D" series in its entirety (that's six episodes), three disgusting short films that range from uninteresting to good, an "in the studio" documentary that lacks focus, three TV appearances that deliver the goods, three very good music videos including the making of two of them and a decent "on the road" doc. Lots of mostly great stuff.

29. The Unknown Peter Sellers (2000 TV Special)

52 min | Documentary, Biography

Documentary about the career of Peter Sellers.

Directors: David Leaf, John Scheinfeld | Stars: Fred Applegate, David Frost, Richard Lester, David Lodge

Votes: 137

Very insightful and absorbing.

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