An Inside Look at Life on the New York Times Obituaries Desk

DVD - 2017
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At a time when the free press is under threat, OBIT. takes a rare look inside one of the United States' foremost journalistic institutions, The New York Times. The steadfast writers of the paper's Obituaries section approach their work with journalistic rigor and narrative flair, each day depositing the details of a handful of extraordinary lives into the cultural memory. Going beyond the byline and into the minds of those chronicling the recently decesaed, OBIT. is ultimately a celebration of life that conveys the central role journalism plays in capturing and reporting vital pieces of our history.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Kino Lorber, Inc., [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
Branch Call Number: 070.449 O12g
Language Note: English with optional English SDH subtitles; closed-captioned
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (93 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in
4 3/4 in.,stamping,rda
digital,optical,surround,stereo,5.1 Dolby Digital,Dolby digital 2.0,rda
video file,DVD video,region 1,rda
Additional Contributors: Gould, Vanessa
Burke, Caitlin Mae


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Mar 10, 2019

I can only say as someone who used NYT obituaries to teach Engish to international students, the obituary columns were much more intriguing than the obit writers were in this film. I think that the producers of this film could have made a much better film by leaving the writers, their lecturing and vulgarity out and just filming the columns being read out loud by someone with a good voice. It looked as if some of these folks were auditioning. For what, I don't know. Barely a mention of one of NYT's best obit writers Robert McG Thomas Jr. Oddly enough, I guess I should be thankful.

Feb 25, 2019

A boring-sounding documentary, that turns out to be pretty interesting and curiously informative. The writers are every bit as much characters as the people they write about.

Jan 26, 2019

Not your usual obituaries, but the first-class mini-biographies written by the New York Times about the lives of people who made a difference in the world. Very interesting and informative documentary, except that poor editing made it drag a bit at the end.

lotuslori_8 Jan 10, 2019

A mildly interesting documentary about how the staff at the NY Times research and go about writing the obituaries of celebrities and other people that they think are newsworthy. The obituary writers job is not that much different than any other reporter, i.e. investigate, follow up, fact check, etc. except their subject is deceased.

Aug 11, 2018

A good look into the making of obituaries at the New York Times.

Jun 01, 2018

I enjoy watching documentaries, and I certainly enjoyed this one. The film consists of interviews and conversations with writers of obituaries for the New York Times. The process, the research, the newsworthy personalities, the photo morgue, the clipping files - all fascinating.
We hear the writers' personal take on what they do - as reporters, and what it means to their lives as individuals. There are many segments where photos of the subjects of the obituaries are being shown, while we hear the voice-over of the obituary writer talking about the life of the subject, their impact, the challenge of writing on a daily deadline (no pun intended).
A worthwhile use of 90 minutes of your time. I certainly recommend this title: Obit.

Dec 04, 2017

I've been reading obits since I was 8 years old. Like this sterling documentary highlighted, obits are about life. The Times still has full time reporters as their obit writers: their work is highly skillful, writing an entire life in less than a day.

Nov 29, 2017

Fascinating documentary. It's rare when film does writing or writers justice, but this doc. is about more than that. Funny, thought-provoking, nostalgic, too.

Excellent. Sad, when it was over. Four stars.

Oct 24, 2017

I loved this documentary! Have been a fan of NYT obits for some time now and it was thrilling to see the behind-the-scenes workday of the talented, small group of writers dedicated to bringing life to the recently departed. Of course we know that they cover the famous celebrities and historical figures, but my favorites were obits on the lesser-known but influential people such as the inventor of the Slinky. Writing obits is a dying (pun intended I guess) art as many papers do not have a dedicated staff. Hearing how these writers approach their subjects with rigor, respect and sometimes a riotous sense of fun, is inspiring. A lively look at a somber topic (and a fate we all share), this documentary is a keeper!

Oct 22, 2017

Let me first say that I tend to like documentaries. But still, they have to be well-made. Director Vanessa Gould has made a good one. Every aspect of the movie interested me. First off, just learning that The New York Times has a whole handful of obituary writers - I had no idea and I'm grateful to the NYT for supporting this important part of the news business. Second, meeting this interesting cast of characters and getting their insight into the biz is wonderful. They are wryly funny. They are good writers. Although they are writing obits, there can be great urgency to their work. If someone of historical importance dies, they have but a few hours to piece together what was their life - all the little fascinating details that we, the general public, may not have been aware of. One thing a film about interesting obits offers, that a newspaper does not, is historical footage. We get to hear the words of the obit writer and see, for example, footage of John Fairfax who rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. If you like history, the New York Times or the news business in general, I think you'll enjoy it too.

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