1980s Documentary Movies

Public list by WPS with 161 movies or TV shows/series

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160 movies found (page 1/6):

Imagine: John Lennon(1988)

1h 40min | Documentary, Music
3.7/5 (with 22 votes)

The biography of former Beatle, John Lennon—narrated by Lennon himself—with extensive material from Yoko Ono's personal collection, previously unseen footage from Lennon's private archives, and interviews with David Bowie, his first wife Cynthia, second wife Yoko Ono and sons Julian and Sean.


| 1h 26min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 173 votes)

Takes us to locations all around the US and shows us the heavy toll that modern technology is having on humans and the earth. The visual tone poem contains neither dialogue nor a vocalized narration: its tone is set by the juxtaposition of images and the exceptional music by Philip Glass.

For All Mankind(1989)

1h 20min | History, Documentary
4.1/5 (with 39 votes)

A testament to NASA's Apollo program of the 1960s and '70s. Composed of actual NASA footage of the missions and astronaut interviews, the documentary offers the viewpoint of the individuals who braved the remarkable journey to the moon and back.

Directed by Al Reinert - With Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Bill Anders, Buck Owens, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, ...

Stop Making Sense(1984)

1h 28min | Music
4.2/5 (with 57 votes)

A concert film documenting Talking Heads at the height of their popularity, on tour for their 1983 album "Speaking in Tongues." The band takes the stage one by one and is joined by a cadre of guest musicians for a career-spanning and cinematic performance that features creative choreography and visuals.


| 1h 39min | Documentary
3.8/5 (with 44 votes)

An exploration of technologically developing nations and the effect the transition to Western-style modernization has had on them.

Directed by Godfrey Reggio - With Cheryl Tiegs

Burden of Dreams(1982)

1h 37min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 36 votes)

The Amazon rain forest, 1979. The crew of Fitzcarraldo (1982), a film directed by German director Werner Herzog, soon finds itself with problems related to casting, tribal struggles and accidents, among many other setbacks; but nothing compared to dragging a huge steamboat up a mountain, while Herzog embraces the path of a certain madness to make his vision come true.

Style Wars(1983)

3.9/5 (with 17 votes)

Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant's PBS documentary tracks the rise and fall of subway graffiti in New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

With DONDI, Frosty Freeze, Ed Koch, IZ the Wiz

Document of the Dead(1985)

1h 31min | Documentary, Horror
3.6/5 (with 10 votes)

A documentary about George A. Romero's films, with a behind scenes look at Dawn of the Dead.

Directed by Roy Frumkes - With George A. Romero

I'm from Hollywood(1989)

1h 1min | Comedy, Documentary
2.9/5 (with 4 votes)

I'm from Hollywood is about the adventures of late performance artist Andy Kaufman in the world of professional wrestling. This film includes interviews with Taxi co-stars Marilu Henner and Tony Danza and interviews with comedian Robin Williams, wrestler Jerry Lawler, wrestling commentator Lance Russell, and Kaufman's best friend, Bob Zmuda. Other people seen in the film include TV host David Letterman and Jimmy Hart of Continental Wrestling Association. The film's title refers to a phrase spoken by Kaufman to the Memphis wrestling audience.

Water and Power(1989)

57min | Documentary
3.6/5 (with 6 votes)

Pat O'Neill, one of the most interesting filmmakers in America today, offers a dazzling reflection on the conflict between nature and man in Los Angeles, or the desertification of the city's surroundings due to its enormous water consumption. More interestingly, it is also a film in the age-old tradition of city symphonies: a film about LA's foundation myths and the dreams it embodies, about its history and (grim) future, its topography and ethnography. O'Neill uses footage from several classic films to recreate the several layers of meaning emanating from the city, juxtaposing images and fantasies and hardly ever allowing one picture to go untouched. George Lockwood's swarming soundtrack is likewise composed of conflicting languages, an elaborate work of plunderphonics in which snippets of sound stolen from movies collide with electronic soundscapes, contemporary chamber music, improv, and what not.

Directed by Pat O'Neill

The Compleat Beatles(1982)

1h 59min | Documentary, Music
3.5/5 (with 5 votes)

€?Let me take you down…” Now, for the first time, you can re-live the Beatles legends with this stunning 2-hour musical “Rockumentary”. It’s all there from the wild exuberance of the early Cavern Club days through eight incredible years, to the grim finality of “Let It Be”. See John, Paul, George and Ringo in performance, on tour, in films, recording with George Martin and in rare footage never before seen. Narrated by Malcom McDowell.

The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind(1988)

2h 4min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 1 vote)

This documentary revisits the making of Gone with the Wind via archival footage, screen tests, insightful interviews and rare film footage.

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Before Stonewall(1984)

1h 27min | Documentary, History
3.7/5 (with 10 votes)

New York City's Stonewall Inn is regarded by many as the site of gay and lesbian liberation since it was at this bar that drag queens fought back against police June 27-28, 1969. This documentary uses extensive archival film, movie clips and personal recollections to construct an audiovisual history of the gay community before the Stonewall riots.

Directed by Greta Schiller

A Tale of the Wind(1988)

1h 20min | Documentary
3.4/5 (with 8 votes)

It is an autobiographical fiction starring Ivens as an old man who has spent his life trying to "tame the wind and harness the sea" by capturing them on film.


| 1h 32min | Documentary
3.6/5 (with 16 votes)

German director Wim Wenders made this documentary in which he tries to explore the Tokyo that was depicted in the films of Yasujiro Ozu. When Wenders visits Tokyo for the first time, he finds a very different city, one with a booming fascination with technology that often clashes with the traditional elements of Japanese culture. Wenders also interviews Ozu's cinematographer, Yuharu Atsuta, and Chishu Ryu, an actor who frequently collaborated with Ozu.

X: The Unheard Music(1986)

1h 24min | Music, Documentary
3.3/5 (with 2 votes)

A documentary about the band X. Includes live and studio performances and interviews with the band members.

The Atomic Cafe(1982)

1h 26min | Documentary, History
3.7/5 (with 16 votes)

A disturbing collection of 1940s and 1950s United States government-issued propaganda films designed to reassure Americans that the atomic bomb was not a threat to their safety.

Directed by Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty - With Paul Tibbets, Harry S. Truman, Lloyd Bentsen

Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam(1987)

| 1h 23min | Documentary, War
3.8/5 (with 7 votes)

Real-life letters written by American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines during the Vietnam War to their families and friends back home. Archive footage of the war and news coverage thereof augment the first-person "narrative" by men and women who were in the war, some of whom did not survive it.

The Making of Fanny and Alexander(1984)

1h 50min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 4 votes)

The Making of Fanny and Alexander is a fascinating look at the creation of a masterpiece. Directed by Ingmar Bergman himself, this feature-length documentary chronicles the methods of one of cinema’s true luminaries as he labors to realize his crowning production.

The Killing of America(1981)

1h 30min | Documentary, Crime
3.7/5 (with 14 votes)

A documentary of the decline of America. Featuring footage (most exclusive to this film) from race riots to serial killers and much-much more.

Burroughs: The Movie(1984)

| 1h 30min | Documentary
3.8/5 (with 6 votes)

An exploration of Burroughs’ life story, as told by Burroughs himself along with many of his contemporaries, including Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, Francis Bacon, Herbert Huncke, Patti Smith, Terry Southern, and William Burroughs Jr.


1h 36min | Documentary
3.2/5 (with 2 votes)

This is the official FIFA film of the 1982 World Cup Finals in Spain. Runs 96 minutes and includes commentary by Sean Connery with a special score composed by Rick Wakeman. Not your average footie film, this is a stunning record of the 1982 tournament finals which included England and Northern Ireland and culminated in Italy's thrilling victory against West Germany.

Directed by Tom Clegg - With Sean Connery

The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter(1980)

1h 5min | Documentary, History, War
3.2/5 (with 2 votes)

Documentary about women's experiences of labour, in factories, mines and dockyards, in the USA during the second World War and how it affected their work and career aspirations once they were encouraged to give up such employment in peacetime.

Directed by Connie Field

Huey Long(1985)

1h 28min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 2 votes)

Ken Burns' portrait of Louisiana governor and U.S. senator Huey Long.

Directed by Ken Burns


2h 9min | Music
3.9/5 (with 5 votes)

Paul McCartney and Wings in concert, 1976. Thirty songs are performed, spanning McCartney's career with Wings (prior to Rockshow) and The Beatles.

Directed by Paul McCartney - With Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch, Joe English

Heartworn Highways(1976)

| 1h 32min | Documentary, Music
4.3/5 (with 3 votes)

The music speaks for itself in this performance documentary that highlights some of the biggest names within the country-folk scene in Texas and Tennessee during the last weeks of 1975 and the first weeks of 1976, eschewing narration and staged interviews.

Directed by James Szalapski - With Guy Clark

The Impossible Spy(1987)

1h 36min | Drama, Thriller
2.6/5 (with 2 votes)

This is the true story of an Israeli civilian who was recruited into Israel's Secret Intelligence Agency to become a spy in Damascus, where he spent years infiltrating the Syrian political establishment. Israel's national hero, Eli Cohen, successfully entered the upper echelons of the Syrian government as a double-agent. The secrets he obtained became crucial in Israel's victory in the 1967 Six Day War.

Directed by Jim Goddard

Radio Bikini(1988)

56min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 2 votes)

It starts with a live radio broadcast from the Bikini Atoll a few days before it is annihilated by a nuclear test. Shows great footage from these times and tells the story of the US Navy Sailors who were exposed to radioactive fallout. One interviewed sailor suffered grotesquely swollen limbs and he is shown being interviewed with enormous left arm and hand.

Directed by Robert Stone

Room 666(1982)

43min | Documentary
3.1/5 (with 6 votes)

During the 1982 Cannes Film Festival, Wenders asks a number of global film directors to, one at a time, go into a hotel room, turn on the camera and answer a simple question: "What is the future of cinema?".

Charles Manson Superstar(1989)

1h 40min | Crime, Documentary
2.5/5 (with 4 votes)

For forty years, Charles Manson has survived most of his life in what he calls 'the hallways of the all ways,' the reform schools, jails and prisons that have been his home and tomb. His thought was born in the hole of solitary confinement, apart from time and beyond the grasp of society. In his cell, he created his own world and speaks his own language: he has concluded that there is only the mind. From convincing his followers to move into the desert to train for the apocalypse, to leading a murderous crew through a string of devilish murders, you will see and hear from Manson himself of how he created a preconceived terror based on his philosophy of life. Manson claims that the so-called 'straight' world outside of prison is but an inverted reflection of the underworld in which he has lived. To him, the reality that presidents and law-abiding citizens accept begins in the hermetic alternate universe of criminals, cons and outlaws.

Directed by Nikolas Schreck - With Charles Manson
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