1980s Documentary Movies

Public list by WPS with 303 movies or TV shows/series

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302 movies found (page 1/11):


| 9h 26min | Documentary, History
4.2/5 (with 64 votes)

Claude Lanzmann directed this 9½ hour documentary on the Holocaust without using a single frame of archive footage. He interviews survivors, witnesses, and ex-Nazis (whom he had to film secretly since they only agreed to be interviewed by audio). His style of interviewing, by asking for the most minute details, is effective at adding up these details to give a horrifying portrait of the events of Nazi genocide. He also shows, or rather lets some of his subjects show, that the anti-Semitism that caused 6 million Jews to die in the Holocaust is still alive and well in many people who still live in Germany, Poland, and elsewhere.

Directed by Claude Lanzmann - With Raul Hilberg, Claude Lanzmann, Jan Karski, Szymon Srebrnik, Mordechaï Podchlebnik, Rudolf Vrba, ...


| 1h 26min | Documentary, Music
4.0/5 (with 200 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.

The Thin Blue Line(1988)

3.9/5 (with 133 votes)

Errol Morris's unique documentary dramatically re-enacts the crime scene and investigation of a police officer's murder in Dallas.

Directed by Errol Morris - With Randall Dale Adams, Marianne Leone Cooper

Stop Making Sense(1984)

1h 28min | Music, Documentary
4.2/5 (with 68 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 49 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

Roger & Me(1989)

| 1h 31min | Documentary, History, Comedy
3.7/5 (with 103 votes)

A documentary about the closure of General Motors' plant at Flint, Michigan, which resulted in the loss of 30,000 jobs. Details the attempts of filmmaker Michael Moore to get an interview with GM CEO Roger Smith.

For All Mankind(1989)

1h 20min | History, Documentary
4.0/5 (with 46 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, ...

Burden of Dreams(1982)

1h 37min | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 43 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.

Isle of Flowers(1989)

13min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 59 votes)

A tomato is planted, harvested and sold at a supermarket, but it rots and ends up in the trash. Ends? No. Isle of Flowers follows it up until its real end, among animals, trash, women and children. And then the difference between tomatoes, pigs and human beings becomes clear.

Directed by Jorge Furtado

The Times of Harvey Milk(1984)

1h 30min | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 33 votes)

Harvey Milk was an outspoken human rights activist and one of the first openly gay U.S. politicians elected to public office; even after his assassination in 1978, he continues to inspire disenfranchised people around the world.

Directed by Rob Epstein - With Harvey Milk, Dan White, George Moscone, Dianne Feinstein, Anne Kronenberg, Tom Ammiano, ...

Vernon, Florida(1981)

55min | Documentary
3.4/5 (with 18 votes)

Early Errol Morris documentary intersplices random chatter he captured on film of the genuinely eccentric residents of Vernon, Florida. A few examples? The preacher giving a sermon on the definition of the word "Therefore," and the obsessive turkey hunter who speaks reverentially of the "gobblers" he likes to track down and kill.

Directed by Errol Morris

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years(1988)

| 1h 33min | Documentary, Music
3.4/5 (with 22 votes)

An exploration of the heavy metal scene in Los Angeles, with particular emphasis on glam metal. It features concert footage and interviews of legendary heavy metal and hard rock bands and artists such as Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Megadeth, Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne and W.A.S.P..

Directed by Penelope Spheeris - With Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Megadeth, Faster Pussycat, ...
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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.

Terror in the Aisles(1984)

| 1h 24min | Horror, Documentary
3.3/5 (with 9 votes)

A non-stop roller coaster ride through the scariest moments of the greatest terror films of all time.

The Decline of Western Civilization(1981)

1h 40min | Documentary, Music
3.6/5 (with 29 votes)

The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.

Directed by Penelope Spheeris - With Black Flag, Germs, The Bags, Circle Jerks, Fear, Alice Bag, ...

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On(1987)

2h 2min | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 10 votes)

This documentary was five years in the making, and revolves around 62-year-old Okuzaki Kenzo, a survivor of the battlefields of New Guinea in World War II who gained notoriety by slingshooting steel pinballs at Emperor Showa to protest against what he considered to be the ruler's war crimes. Setting out to conduct interviews with survivors and relatives, he finds the truth of the past to be elusive, achieving a breakthrough only when he confronts ex-Sergeant Yamada, who grudgingly admits the occurrence and instructional source of certain atrocities.

Directed by Kazuo Hara

Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam(1987)

| 1h 23min | Documentary, War
3.8/5 (with 8 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.

Style Wars(1983)

3.8/5 (with 18 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


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

Sherman's March(1985)

2h 38min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 12 votes)

Ross McElwee sets out to make a documentary about the lingering effects of General Sherman's march of destruction through the South during the Civil War, but is continually sidetracked by women who come and go in his life, his recurring dreams of nuclear holocaust, and Burt Reynolds.

Directed by Ross McElwee - With Ross McElwee

Comic Book Confidential(1989)

| 1h 30min | Documentary
3.4/5 (with 10 votes)

In the 20th century, no artistic medium in North America with so much potential for creative expression has had a more turbulent history plagued with less respect than comic books. Through animated montages, readings and interviews, this film guides us through the history of the medium from the late 1930s and 1940s with the first explosion of popularity with the superheroes created by great talents like Jack Kirby and hitting its first artistic zenith with Will Eisner's "Spirit". It then shifts to the post war comics world with the rising popularity of crime and horror comics, especially those published by EC Comics under the editorshiop of William B. Gaines until it came crashing down the rise of censorship with the imposition of the Comics Code. In its wake of the devastation of the medium's creative freedom, we also explore EC's defiant survival with the creation of the singular "Mad Magazine" by Harvey Kurtzman.

The Compleat Beatles(1982)

1h 59min | Documentary, Music
3.4/5 (with 5 votes)

- No description / details available yet. -


1h 31min | Documentary
3.8/5 (with 13 votes)

Portrays the lives of nine desperate teenagers. Thrown too young into a seedy grown up world, these runaways and castaways survive, but just barely. Rat, the dumpster diver. Tiny, the teen prostitute. Shellie, the baby-faced blonde. DeWayne, the hustler. All old beyond their years. All underage survivors fighting for life and love on the streets of downtown Seattle.

Directed by Martin Bell - With Baby Gramps

The Atomic Cafe(1982)

1h 26min | Documentary, History
3.7/5 (with 17 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


2h 9min | Music
4.0/5 (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

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


| 1h 32min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 20 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.

Half a Life(1982)

1h 35min | Documentary
3.2/5 (with 2 votes)

Michel Recanati was a militant leader in the May, 1968 riots in Paris, organizing many groups to meet, discuss, and act on leftist principles both before and after the disturbances. He was imprisoned for a short while in 1973. Disillusioned after the failure of the demonstrations and the death of the only woman he had loved, his life seems to have changed from a period of hope and activism to one of bottomless despair. His friend, Romain Goupil wrote and directed this biographical documentary. Death at 30 received the 1982 Cannes Film Festival's Golden Camera Award for "Best First Feature-Length Film.".

Directed by Romain Goupil - With Romain Goupil

The Killing of America(1981)

1h 30min | Documentary, Crime
3.6/5 (with 15 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.

Samsara: Death and Rebirth in Cambodia(1990)

29min | Documentary
3.0/5 (with 3 votes)

Made as a relief worker's master's thesis, this documentary chronicles the difficulties of rebuilding a community in post-Pol Pot Cambodia.

Directed by Ellen Bruno
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