Streaming services really have helped with the explosion of documentaries in recent years, and Amazon Prime is no different.
While it may not have the same depth of original documentaries as Netflix or Disney+, there's still plenty to choose from on the streaming service. In fact, there's more than a few that you won't be able to find anywhere else.
Here are a few suggestions...
Even if you have zero interest in horse racing or any kind of equestrian sport, 'Being AP' is a fascinating insight to the mind and spirit of an athlete who is looking to finish their career on their own terms. It examines the doubts, the fears, and the determination it takes to be the best of their field and the cost it takes on them and those around them.
Directed by the same team behind 'Icarus', this documentary charts another investigation - this time, into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia's efforts to silence international dissent. 'The Dissident' dives deep not only into Khashoggi's murder, but the extraordinary wealth of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who sits in the middle of a vast web of power, influence, and deception.
Like 'The Dissident', Alex Gibney's 'Citizen K' focuses in on the relationship between power of the state and the power of the dissident. In this case, it's Putin's Russia and the exiled buisnessman-turned-activist Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Interestingly, Gibney doesn't necessarily paint Khodorkovsky in a continuously flattering light, but it does paint a fascinating picture of life in post-Soviet Russia and the rise of capitalism there, as well as the benefits and the problems it brought there.
Originally released in 1973, 'Swastika' is as controversial as they come. It was banned in West Germany immediately on release, and only had the ban lifted in the then-reunited Germany in 2009. Co-directed by artist Philippe Mora, 'Swastika' cuts together home footage made by Eva Braun and Nazi propaganda footage, and examines the utter banality of evil in Nazi Germany. There's a queasy feeling watching 'Swastika' compared to other documentaries, because it shows the personal lives of these awful, heinous people, from footage show by themselves.
Kevin Macdonald's work as a documentary-maker has always blended together sharp storytelling skills with kinetic editing, and 'Whitney' is no different. It marries together both Whitney Houston, the singer and the legend, and Whitney Houston, the deeply private woman who struggled with personal demons and her own sexuality. While the other Whitney documentary, 'Can I Be Me', zeroes in on her downfall, 'Whitney' offers a broader perspective and marries together the jubilance and the sadness of her life.
As far as personal topics go in a documentary, it doesn't get much deeper than 'Missing Mom'. Two film dorks set out to document their investigation into their missing mother, who left them almost 25 years ago. It doesn't have any of the lurid details you might hope for in a missing person documentary, but it does offer up an examination not only of a life spent in search of someone else, but also an inadvertent examination of how and why they went missing in the first place. It's by no means a slick production, and some of it does tend to fall flat, but 'Missing Mom' is nonetheless a fascinating if uneven examination of a life spent searching.
It may seem like a trite subject in today's world - rich people, it turns out, are miserable - but what 'Generation Wealth' does so well is that it examines both the wider society that pushes this idea, and the tiny details that go into it. It may be ruinous debt, the money itself may be tainted with blood, and the people themselves who live with it are devoid of any kind of life, but director Lauren Greenfield takes it all in without judgment. Her latest documentary, 'The Kingmaker', focuses in on Imelda Marcos, the wife of deposed Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos and does so with the same level of detachment that she uses here in 'Generation Wealth'.
'PRISONERS OF THE MOON'
If you've watched Apple TV+'s excellent alt-history series, 'For All Mankind', or if you watched Prime Video's trashy thriller series, 'Hunters', there's a good chance you're familiar with the shady beginnings of NASA and Operation Paperclip - in which the US government captured Nazi scientists and brought them to work on their space program. 'Prisoners of the Moon' dramatises the trial of Arthur Rudolph, a key figure in NASA during the '60s, when he was accused of war crimes in the '90s. Veteran Irish actor Jim Norton plays Rudolph, and intercuts a dramatised version of his trial with documentary footage and interviews for a intriguing blend of documentary and drama.
We generally think of mercenaries and PMCs in terms of action movies or videogames like 'Metal Gear Solid', where they're generally portrayed as cynical villains who care for nothing and nobody. 'Shadow Company', released in 2006 at the height of the Iraq War, examines the history of PMCs and their role in modern conflicts, including Iraq, and how they often operate outside of the law and with the inherent blessing of governments.