15 Awesomely Nerdy Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries You Can Watch for Free Right Now

Monday, August 26, 2013 at 6:00 am

7. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001

Total: 593 minutes.

Further evidence that the age of the DVD extra is passing: Warner Bros. has put three excellent mini-documentaries from the official release of 2001: A Space Odyssey up on their YouTube channel, because why not at this point? "Vision of a Future Passed" considers how 2001 did and did not predict the future, and they're open about the fact that it's mostly in the "not" category...

8. Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Total: 614 minutes.

...while this one examines his influence on filmmaking as a whole, but particularly on directors as such as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg...

9. 2001: A Space Odyssey - A Look Behind the Future

Total: 637 minutes.

...and my personal favorite of these three, a behind-the-scenes short from when the movie was actually being made. Everyone was so hopeful for the future, unaware the Space Race was going to thud to a halt less than a decade later. And Arthur C. Clarke isn't yet bitter about the whole "Satellites were MY ideas, guys!" thing. Also, sidewall haircuts and horn-rimmed glasses, yum.

10. 2001: A Space Odyssey - The Making of a Myth

Total: 680 minutes.

This longer doc, looking back on the making of the movie rather than reporting on it at the time like the previous one, is not actually on the WarnerBrosOnline YouTube channel, but I suspect that even if it did get taken down, Warner Bros would just slap it right back up for themselves.

11. Doctor Who: Adventures in Space and Time

Total: 720 minutes.

There are quite a few classic, pre-Eccleston Doctor Who documentaries on YouTube, most of which were recorded from the BBC and aren't of the best quality. Although the sound starts out a bit out of sync, and only gets worse as it progresses, this '99 doc is my favorite for a couple of reasons. First, it's narrated by Peter Jones, the voice of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (Speaking of which, check out "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Daleks," which features a quite passable Jones impersonator doing the narration.) Secondly, it features quite a lot of footage of then-modern-day Tom Baker frolicking around London, and that's just the best.

Fair warning: certain titles within the program spell it as Dr. Who, not Doctor Who.

12. Empire of Dreams - The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy

Total: 871 minutes.

Directed by Kevin (not Ken) Burns, this two-and-a-half hour documentary was, for me, the real killer app of the 2004 Star Wars box set. To the best of my knowledge, a lot of the footage had never been seen before; at least, I'd never seen the screen tests or Kurt Russell or William Katt, nor the deleted rear-projection landspeeder footage. Of course, a lot more has been leaked in recent years, and remix culture has since gotten into full swing, resulting in...

13. Star Wars Begins

Total: 1,010 minutes.

We've gone off the YouTube reservation now into Vimeo territory, and for good reason: this was pulled off YouTube a couple days ago for copyright reasons. (Thanks a mill, Little Dot Studios, SME, FOX and Warner Chappell!) Actually, what was actually pulled was a nutzoid seven-hour compilation of Jamie Benning's three Star Wars documentaries, of which Star Wars Begins is actually the third.

To quote from the press release, which describes it much better than I can: "Star Wars Begins is an unofficial look at the creation of the classic movie and features deleted scenes, alternate takes and different angles, bloopers, original on set audio recordings and a huge amount of commentary from cast and crew, culled from every corner of the galaxy." It's like a cubist version of the movie, watching it from every perspective, and it's kind of brilliant. As are his previous two fan documentaries in the series...

14. Building Empire

Total: 1,146 minutes.


15. Returning to Jedi

Total: 1,293 minutes.

(He's also done Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark, if you're into that sort of thing.)

So, there you go! Unless my math is completely off, that's about 21.5 hours of documentary goodness you can watch from this very page. Call in sick to work tomorrow!

Previously by Sherilyn Connelly:

The Eight Funniest Recurring Themes in the Original Star Wars Trading Cards

The Six Coolest Things In Starlog #001: The Voyage in Retro-Nerdery Begins

Ten Amazingly Strange Celebrity Hotlines of the 1980s

The Eleven Coolest Things in Starlog #002: Gene Roddenberry Has a Big Pipe, and Bigfoot Is Just Big

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