一个简短的、包罗万象的定义是可以想象的，但本质上并不重要。它隐藏的东西和揭露的东西一样多。至关重要的是，我们认为每一部纪录片都以一种方式为正在进行的交流增添一些共同的品质，而这些共同的品质是与新的、明确无误的框架相违背的，就像一条不断进化的变色龙一样。无论如何，我们将从纪录片的一些共同特点开始，以便对大多数讨论发生的领域有一个大致的感觉。首先要了解纪录片从来没有一个准确的定义，这是绝对重要的。约翰·格里森(John Grierson)在20世纪30年代首次提出了纪录片的意义，如今，它仍然很常见，那就是“对现实的富有想象力的处理”。在他看来，纪录片是一种创造性的事业。它还不确定“发明处理”和“事实”之间的明显张力。(Kristin Bluemel, 2009 -“纪录片电影和‘事实’”)我们可以相应地改变纪录片的这一含义，说:“纪录片谈论真实的情况或场合，并尊重既成事实;他们不展示新的，神秘的。他们具体地谈论记录的世界，而不是形象地谈论。(Keith Beattie, 2004)虚构的故事建立在非常基本的道德层面上。它们使人在思想中漫游，从一个世界到另一个世界。像《北方的纳努克》这样的纪录片专门提到有记录的世界，以事实而非虚构为基础。他们呈现的图片和大量的声音直接来自“真实世界”。尽管,这一事实将能力之后,纪录片普遍抓人和场合,照片有地方与世界分享而不是表现出人物和活动旨在讲述一个故事,回到我们现实在倾斜或比喻。他们这样做的一个关键方式是对既定的现实和提供明显的证据。例如，《纳努克》不是真实的电影，但从某种意义上说，它的确是:这部电影遵循了纪录片的典型惯例，同时也展示了它自身的创造。纪录片中发生的一切都是真实的，尽管背后发生了很多事情。纳努克在这条线的另一边绝对有用武之地。这部纪录片在技术上并不先进，这可能是因为它是用一台摄像机拍摄的，没有舞台灯光，是在寒冷的室外拍摄的，每个人似乎都在同一水平上。然而，它有一种真实性，战胜了任何反对/误解，一些场景是舞台。
A brief, overarching definition is conceivable however not essentially significant. It will hide as much as it will uncover. Progressively vital is the manner by which each film we consider a documentary adds to an on-going exchange that draws on common qualities that go up against the new and unmistakable frame, similar to a consistently evolving chameleon. We will, in any case, start with some common qualities of the documentary film so as to have a general feeling of the domain inside which most talk happens.It is absolutely vital to first understand that documentary film has never had an exact definition. It stays common today to return to some rendition of John Grierson’s meaning of documentary, first proposed during the 1930s, as the “imaginative treatment of reality.” ‘In his view, he recognises that documentaries are inventive undertakings. It additionally leaves uncertain the conspicuous strain between “inventive treatment” and “fact.” (Kristin Bluemel, 2009 – “Documentary Cinema and ‘Fact’) We may, accordingly, alter this meaning of documentary by saying, “Documentary films talk about genuine circumstances or occasions and respect well-established certainties; they don’t present new, mysterious ones. They talk specifically about the recorded world as opposed to figuratively.” (Keith Beattie, 2004) Fictional accounts are on very basic level moral stories. They make one wander in their thoughts and go from one world to another. Documentary films, such as Nanook of the North, allude specifically to the recorded world, based on facts and not fiction. The pictures, and a significant number of the sounds, they present come directly from the “real world”. In spite of the fact that this announcement will get capability later, documentary pictures generally catch people and occasions that have a place with the world we share as opposed to exhibit characters and activities designed to recount a story that comes back to our reality at a slant or metaphorically. One critical manner by which they do as such is by regarding well-established realities and giving evident proof. For example, Nanook is not a cinema verité, and yet in a sense, it is: The film follows the typical conventions of a documentary and at the same time it shows the creation of itself. What happens in the documentary is real, despite the things that occurred behind it. Nanook definitely has a hold on the other side of that line. The documentary is not technically advanced, this may be due to the fact that it was filmed using just one camera, no stage lights, it’s filmed outside in the cold and everyone seems to be on the same level as everyone. However, it has an authenticity that triumphs over any objections/misconceptions that some of the scenes were staged.