Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project

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Marion Stokes was secretly recording television twenty-four hours a day for thirty years. It started in 1979 with the Iranian Hostage Crisis at the dawn of the twenty-four hour news cycle. It ended on December 14, 2012 while the Sandy Hook massacre played on television as Marion passed away. In between, Marion recorded on 70,000 VHS tapes, capturing revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials that tell us who we were, and show how television shaped the world of today. Before fake news Marion was fighting to protect the truth by archiving everything that was said and shown on television. The public didn't know it, but the networks were disposing their archives for decades into the trashcan of history. Remarkably Marion saved it, and now the Internet Archive will digitize her tapes and we'll be able to search them online for free.


  • Michael Metelits

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Nov 14, 2019

Stokes recorded every story she possibly could, from 1977 to 2012. By then, it had become a lot easier to chronicle both the minutiae and the magnitude of life in the 21st century. But has that been an improvement? Wolf leaves it to his audience to decide, after gently pushing us past any instinctual answers.

Metacritic review by Elizabeth Weitzman
Elizabeth Weitzman
May 1, 2019

This is a small, carefully crafted film that tries hard to pierce the protective armor of a recluse known to be difficult and domineering. In the end, Stokes still remains slightly unknowable, as she’d undoubtedly prefer. Yet the documentary’s deep dive into her extraordinary archives, and the grainy video treasures it unearths, make for fascinating viewing.

Stephen Whitty
Screen Daily
Apr 26, 2019

[A] fascinatingly oddball story.

Metacritic review by Frank Scheck
Frank Scheck
The Hollywood Reporter