In the docudrama, historically verifiable events are apparently re-enacted by actors in great detail. The resulting drama is supplemented by documentary elements such as eyewitness reports and interviews or news images that accompany explanations by the author. The transition from documentary with re-enacted scenes to docudrama is fluid. The docudrama is not to be confused with pure feature films that were shot after historical events, but do not contain any documentary parts.
In comparison with text, photo or tape documents, the docudrama appears more vivid and lively and thus offers a television-friendly representation of the topic. Assumed subjective views and feelings of the protagonists can be shown in this way. This direct emotionalization is not or only marginally permitted in pure text or tape-based documentation due to the objective distance between the viewer and the events.
The docudrama must not obscure or falsify history. Nevertheless, the producers are partly dependent on speculation for the detailed re-enactment of the events and especially the inner workings of the protagonists, since the sources are often insufficient for such a representation. Contradicting statements in sources or interpretations are difficult to represent with the means of the feature film, as the film can only show one of several possible interpretations.
By mixing the documentary film with the feature film element, which is usually assigned to the entertainment sector, the docudrama stands in the field of tension between the entertainment expectations of the audience and the claim to historical authenticity. There is the problem of reconciling the dramaturgy of the feature film with the historically secured knowledge about the event. This includes the sometimes practiced optical alignment of feature film material with authentic historical film recordings (e.g. by shooting in black and white and using artificially generated signs of aging). If historical recordings and such unmarked game scenes follow one another, it is not always possible for the unprepared viewer to differentiate immediately.
Documentary dramas are primarily broadcast on television. The multi-part series by Heinrich Breloer and Horst Königstein , especially Todesspiel (1997), Die Manns - Ein Jahrhundertertroman (2001) and Speer and Er (2004), are well known in Germany.
In Austria, Elisabeth Scharang shot the docudrama Franz Fuchs - A Patriot in 2007 , which dealt with the criminal case of Franz Fuchs . Game scenes were supplemented by interviews and documentary recordings.
- Tobias Ebbrecht / Matthias Steinle: Documentary drama in Germany as a historical event television - an approach from a pragmatic perspective. In: MEDIENwissenschaft No. 3/2008, pp. 250–255.
- Christian Hißnauer: The docu-drama in Germany as journalistic political television - an approach and response from a television history perspective. In: MEDIENwissenschaft No. 3/2008, pp. 256–265.
- Christian Hißnauer: History games on television: The documentary game as a form of hybrid histotainment of the 1960s and 1970s. In: Arnold, Klaus et al. (Ed.): History journalism. Between information and staging. Münster: Lit 2010.
- Christian Hißnauer: Hybrid forms of remembering: forerunner of the docu-drama in the 1970s. In: Heinemann, Monika et al. (Ed.): Media between fiction-making and claim to reality.
- Christian Hißnauer / Bernd Schmidt: milestones of television documentarism: the Hamburg schools . Constance: UVK 2013, ISBN 978-3867643870 .
- Joanna Jambor / Christian Hißnauer / Bernd Schmidt: Horst Königstein: Daring TV game. A consideration in the spectrum of traditional and current forms . In: Hißnauer, Christian (ed.): The West German television game of the 1960s and 1970s. Special issue 3–4 / 2011 of the magazine Rundfunk und Geschichte, pp. 60–75.