329--Week 1 Questions/Comments

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Place your questions/comments/debate ideas about this week's film here.

This class is awesome.

We have Lady Rebecca Rolfe watching over our every word...beware.

If we pick a movie that was originally a book, should we read the book, too?

Lauren Hicks

In the words of Senator Arlen Specter, "When Hollywood speaks, the world listens...when Washington speaks, the world snoozes (Why Movies Matter, pp. 1-2)." The words by Senator Specter are funny, yet relevant. Hollywood arouses the general audience more than politicians in Washington D.C. Do people need entertainment to push them into political involvement and awareness?-Lauren Hicks

Katherine Stinson

On Lauren's comments on if we need Hollywood to make us interested in politics, I would say yes and no. When some people see their favorite celebrity endorsing a certain candidate, they too get interested in politics, even if they never were interested in politics before. For example, during the Presidential election years, MTV does a campaign with celebrities to encourage the young people to vote, and has shown in the past to be successful. Other people are just interested in politics in general, and don't need celebrities to encourage them to get involved. ~Katherine Stinson~

Lauren Hicks

In "Hollywood's America," the author mentioned that the movie "Across the Pacific" was hastily rewritten after Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. Instead, the setting was changed to the Panama Canal. It reminded me of movies about the Twin Towers and how movies about them were reportedly halted because of 9/11. - Lauren Hicks

Ashley Wilkins

After reading "Slaves on Screen" I admit that I was put in a sense of contemplation. I had never really thought about poetry in the sense of fictional and nonfictional. It made me wonder more about movies, about movies I don't think are all that historically based, and just how much history from the time it was made is it the movie. For example, the gender roles played by women and men in the movie, are the roles based on what society expects at the time or is the director taking his or her own twist on what he or she believes the gender roles should be. Is the director taking a more radical or traditional approach to those roles. -- Ashley Wilkins

Ashley Wilkins

In the second paragraph of "Movies and American Society" it mentions that movies show us "how to dress, how to look, or what to buy." Movies also tend to say how a person's body should be shaped, that women should wear makeup to be pretty, etc... Movies penetrate society on many levels of how we think about ourselves and other people, some times I wonder if its safe to watch them, but then I think of how much fun I have watching them and communicating with others about the movie which is also mentioned in "Movies and American Society." --Ashley Wilkins

Taylor Brann

Perhaps it can be unsafe to watch movies in some cases. For instance, the women on screen are often ideals and it sometimes leads to ordinary women doing dangerous things in attempts to become those ideals. And then there are the various uses of movies as propaganda and tools of manipulation. But, as the article mentions, movies have also been forces of good. They can bring awareness to the suffering in the world and make viewers want to take action against it. Also, more personally, they can just make us feel better after a bad day. --Taylor Brann

Juliann Boyles

I agree with Taylor in that film can be a very effective method of propaganda. War film propaganda from the 1940s is a great example of that. However, human beings are not mindless and incapable of independent thought. Even though we may see an example of behavior on the silver screen, and some lost souls choose to follow their idol to the extreme, that does not make movies dangerous. Movies can have a powerful impact on their audience. I am sure we can all remember certain films that may have changed the way we think about certain things forever, of course I can say the same thing about certain books. Whether a movie was created for pure entertainment, social commentary, or artistic expression, movies have become an important part of American culture. Even in the case of fantastical docudramas, erring on the side of Disney with historical revision, there is still value to its study. Historical revision, after all, is not limited only to film.

Ashley Wilkins

I had just a quick question about "Hollywood's America...." It mentions that some theaters were called nickelodeons at one point in time (page 10) because it cost a nickel to view the production. I was curious if the children's channel Nickelodeon was somehow a spinoff of those theaters, or just something completely unrelated. --Ashley Wilkins

Whitney Holcomb

Yep, that's where the name comes from! -Whitney Holcomb

Kellye Sorber

"Slaves on Screen" said that movies are just starting to be a source of history. There are many older movies, like Gone With the Wind, that have been around for decades. So what does starting to be a source really mean. Are they talking about that it is just starting to be credited as a valuable source? -- Kellye Sorber

Taylor Brann

I think the bigger point was that historical writers have had a few thousands years to develop ways of interpreting and presenting history, while filmmakers have had just over a century to develop their presentation techniques, which is probably part of the reason historians have largely ignored films as credible historical sources. Filmmakers are still the new kids on the block. -- Taylor Brann

Kellye Sorber

What movies today would be considered to be the most accurate cultural artifacts of our time? Are they portraying what we want future generations to remember when they think of us? -- Kellye Sorber

Lauren Hicks

To attempt to answer Kellye's first question, I believe no movie has portrayed history, now or in the past, accurately. To see what I mean, look at the movie "Vantage Point." There are several people who witnessed the attempted assassination, but they all have different views of the event. Therefore, no matter the movie, each film will have its own bias and viewpoint, never the whole, objective story. As for Kellye's second question, future generations who have not experienced events that we all have, such as 9/11, won't see them as we experienced them and familiar references that we know will get misinterpreted by future generations and history will get blurred from its original context like a game of Telephone. -Lauren Hicks

Kellye Sorber

Maybe the reason so many historians are unwilling to really analyze and comment on "history-oriented" movies is because they are not fully comfortable with the changing technology. As we become a more technology centered society historians and other individuals will have to look to new and different methods for unlocking history. I agree with the reading in Reel History, that "history-oriented" movies can be look at like any historical text, they are simply perspectives of an event or time. -- Kellye Sorber

Amanda Russell

I liked the "Slaves on Screen" reading, though I felt it jumped around quite a bit. I was appalled by Zanuck's comment on "Rothschild." While it is just egregious to history buffs on its own, it also offends by implying (at least to me) that what actually happened in history is not interesting enough to make a movie about. There is a fine line between creative license and fiction, and perhaps Zanuck fancies himself more of a poet than a historian. -- Amanda Russell

Amanda Russell

One problem with history-oriented movies is that it gives historians another level to analyze. This can be beneficial to some studies, but not if you were simply studying what actually happened (not the inevitable analyses). Kind of like the difference between reading the diary of Anne Frank and a 1980s analysis of the diary of Anne Frank. --Amanda Russell

Amanda Russell

I thought it was interesting in "Why Movies Matter" that filmmaking today and in the 1910s sound familiar: anyone with a camera and some kind of budget can make a movie today, there are just infinitely more outlets and audiences available than there were then. Is this circular motion or was the period in between the one we will not see again? --Amanda Russell

Elle W.

Slaves on Screen suggests that history itself must be carefully constructed, qualified and must admit the patchy areas of assumption or inference, whereas film is a story which is primarily entertainment which has less assumed qualifications. The films based on real life events are then questioned by the viewer, which really is a positive step towards getting more persons interested in history (in my humble opinion). –Elle W.

Elle W.

Why Movies Matter describes the overall social impact of movies that I had never really thought about. A quote that particularly demonstrated the importance and dominance of movies as a mode of mass communication was on page 4 – “Far more people are today reached by the moving picture than by the daily press, [and] while we read the newspaper only in parts, the moving picture we see complete.” And this was in 1908! A few pages later… I also liked the idea of censorship being another testimony to how influential films can be on the American public. If movies didn’t really matter or mean something to America, why would censorship be necessary? – Elle W.

Elle W.

I enjoyed the introduction of the book. It clearly lays out the direction of which the book is headed and I am already convinced that historic films deserve more credit than they are given. Getting the story out there allows more people to think, question, and investigate further in more traditional ways. This argument meshes well with the Slaves on Screen idea. –Elle W.

Kelly Wuyscik

Like Elle, I saw a correlation between the intro to the "Reel History" book and the "Slaves on Screen" article. Film is so easily brushed off by critics and historians as a credible source of information, but I believe that using films and movies makes history interesting for more people. True, some filmmakers take "artistic license" a bit too far and the historical content is a bit stretched, but having someone sit down to watch a movie on a historical event catches one's interest more easily. By seeing the event on screen it allows them to actually picture what they're studying (or are now interested in studying) and applies the whole "face to a name" bit. They feel more involved with the past than by just reading text on a page. -Kelly Wuyscik

Mary Beth C.

I agree with Elle and Kelly. I thought the argument in the intro of "Reel History" was very good and shows that films can be a relevant source of history and sometimes seeing it on the screen even if some liberties were taken in the story brings it alive in a way that is more vibrant and real than just reading it sometimes. ~ Mary Beth C.

Mallory C.

While reading the introduction to Reel History: In Defense of Hollywood by Robert Brent Toplin, I found myself agreeing with many of Toplin's arguments. He explains that oftentimes artists and authors leave out details in order to make their work more understandable. Is this idea not true of directors or screen writers, who themselves are artists? History-orientated movies take a lot of heat for not including every detail of the story within the film. However, there are times when every detail isn't necessarily possible because it prevents the plot of the movie to flow properly. It is up to the judgment of the director to pick and choose which aspect of the story he/she wants to portray. As long as the facts are correct the audience can take away valuable information concerning the past from that particular movie. Movies have a great opportunity to teach the audience about a significant part of history. A story that is so important that it must be turned into a film in order to become better known to the masses. The article Movies and American Society edited by Steven J.Ross, relates nicely to what Toplin is arguing: Movies are a significant part of our culture, with millions of people going to the movies everyday; therefore, they have the power to educate and ultimately shape the intellect of America. The article further explains that film makers have the power to influence the way in which people view their society, government, even the world. Film makers have the ability to influence the way in which the audience views history and enable the audience to understand how history is created by everyday experiences.- Mallory C.

Jackie Reed

Several of the posts have brought up the possible growth of movies as accurate historical acounts or something of that nature. Taylor pointed out that movies which have some tie to history are perhaps continuing to develope through the still very new medium of cinema, while historical writers have had longer to hone techniques of accurate story telling of historical events. But (unless we are talking about movies that are strictly non-fiction documentaries) whether they are historically/period based or not, there is an important descrepency to recognize in making this comparison. Movies are not pure imitation of life. They are forms of art which most often incorporate recognizable and familiar aspects of life in order to appeal to its audience. And whenever life is represented by a form of art, some aspect of factuality is lost by the mere imitation (like the Platonic Theory of Forms- it is not the true ideal (form) when it is already a copy- it has lost some truth). Thus, unless we are comparing historically related movies to historical fiction books, they are not comparable to histories and textbooks. ~Jackie Reed

Jackie Reed

With my previous comment in mind... My debate question: As forms of art/and or entertainment, should all directors of historically based movies be held to the same level of historical integrity that historians are? Or to the same degree that writers of historical fiction? (Futher more... Which is more important, artistic integrity and the director's artistic expression/message or a movie's historical accuracy? ~Jackie Reed

Mallory C.

I think to some degree directors should be held to the same level of historical integrity as historians. If the intention of the director is to portray a significant piece of history then the film should be accurate. If the director is aiming for credibility in the business then it would be in his/her best interest to get their facts straight. Wouldn't it be pointless for the director to not do some background research for the film? - Mallory C.

Jason Ward

n.b. my post accepts Jackie's premise as sound. However, I would like to shift Jackie's debate back on to the historian. Let's talk about the standard by which historians are judged. We do it every time we write a research paper. We ask who wrote the secondary source? Who published the secondary source? What kinds of motivations were behind the construction of the source?, and so on. Just look at a subject's historigraphy to see that written history is not always air-tight. I think it would do us well this semester to not just analyze how film makers interpret history, but how historians interpret history. Too often we take historical texts as gospel (especially when compared to artistic representations), but is there really an ultimate truth by which we can compare apples and oranges? (historical text being apples, historical films being oranges)- Jason Ward

Kelly Wuyscik

Jason brings up an interesting point when he said that "history is not always air-tight." To kind of support this a little further, I'd like to bring up one of our favorite sources, Wikipedia. Now, granted it is not the most reliable source of information on the planet but we do all use it as a starting point. But just looking at the history of those pages on historical events you can see that even events that took place hundreds of years ago are still under debate. Those pages are constantly updated and changed, sometimes by the hour. Historians themselves always have their own bias and oftentimes that is overlooked when doing research. How is this any different from a filmmaker and his bias? Or the bias of someone creating a documentary? - Kelly Wuyscik

David Flores

This is in response to Jackie's post. Although you have simplified your concern to a basic "is A better than B" question, I find the content rather complex. A great film that tries to tell a story during a specific period in our history combines the historical fact with the director's artistic expression/message. At times, the result makes it difficult for us to separate the two. I think when someone makes a movie, they take what is already generally known about history and fill in the little holes with what the director feels happened. A common debate of these movies is their portrayal of the character(s). Without a primary source, we become subjective to how we believe certain historical figures behaved. So to answer your question, I don't think directors should be held to the same level of historians are because I feel that they actually try to do different things. Historians give us facts about the past, and directors try to bring to life these facts while expressing their own artistry in their work. - David Flores

David Flores

A couple people have touched on this already, and it's a topic that I find interesting. The "Why Movies Matter" and the "Hollywood's America" articles both bring up the debate of whether the media creates society's values, or do they merely convey them in their work? I've always thought that the media used television and movies to help convey society's values (for example, The Simpsons conveying the importance of family by taking the model of a 1950's American family structure). But after reading these articles, its seems apparent that movies, especially in the 20's and 30's, had the distinct role of creating society's values. This includes how women should be portrayed, the behavior of lesser-known ethnic groups, and so on. Movies are a powerful tool in shaping what people believe (or think they should believe) in. - David Flores

Katherine Stinson

I agree with David that movies are a really powerful way of molding what people believe about others, but I wonder what people would think or be like if they didn't have movies to influence them. Would people still have thought that "...Africans were savages, and that their Afro-American decedents were lazy, happy-go-lucky, thieving, sexually promiscuous , and mentally inferior" (Alvin F. Poussaint quote on page 2 of Why Movies Matter), and would people's buying habits be different as well? ~Katherine Stinson~

Jason Ward

Why are academicians so upset with directors if history is not accurately represented? How damaging is it for directors to make egregious errors in historical accuracy? Does a film's message/ social commentary need to be grounded in "fact" or can the film's message transcend the nuts and bolts of historical accuracy?- Jason Ward

Bryan Mull

While reading both the introduction to Reel History and the "Slaves on Screen" excerpt, I was struck by the notion of just how new a medium film study is when compared to more traditional forms of history. I had never thought about how the relatively new status of films likely contribute greatly in the medium's lack of respect as a means for historical discovery. The example used in "Slaves on Screen" of how Homer's poetry once was the standard form of passing on historical information showed the way that the study of history has been subjective over time. The excerpt also pointed to how Herodotus and Thucydides in many instances made up their own interpretations of speeches in history. This is a practice not unlike the artistic license used by filmmakers for their dialogue. Clearly historic films are not as far off from the more traditional means of passing on historical knowledge. - Bryan Mull

Bryan Mull

At the end of the excerpt "Slaves on Screen" I was struck by the observation that audiences react well to the disclaimer placed before many movies: Based on a True Story. I know that I have on occasions been spurred to delve into a subject tackled by a film because of that disclaimer. The author then goes to point out that because movies based on history can spur such questioning, the film medium has a rightful place in the historical arena. I agree with this assessment, as films can touch people in ways that normal texts can never hope to achieve. The emotional responses elicited by films allow for a greater passion than some books and the emotions can spur greater inquiry to the past. Thus, I agree with Davis and believe that the film medium certainly has an important place in history. - Bryan Mull

Mary Beth C.

In the "Movies and American Society" article, I thought it was interesting to see how the themes of movies have changed through the years to reflect what was happening in society at that particular time, such as the patriotic movies of the 40's and the sexual revolution of the 60's and 70's and yuppies of the 80's. Even today you can see specific themes like this-such as the movies about the war in Iraq that have recently come out. It will be interesting to go back and view some of the new films in about 10 years to see if our perspective has changed. ~ Mary Beth C.

Mary Beth C.

I agree with Bryan about the "Slaves on Screen" article. I usually go to movies that say they are "based on a true story" and then end up going out of the theater and researching the subject myself-to get more information or clarify things. I think that statement can be a good tool to start people off in at least a small amount of research on the topic. My niece (who is 16) hates anything "historical" but will always want to see movies based on an actual event so its an easy way to slip a little history in and then we usually end up discussing the movie and it always leads to us looking things up about the subject and she does not even realize she is learning history! ~ Mary Beth C.

Katherine Stinson

I thought the introduction of Reel History was interesting, but I was surprised that the author was not all upset with Hollywood's portrayal of history in movies. I was expecting the book to be about how Hollywood is all wrong when it comes to history, but the author actually believes that "movies can communicate important ideas about the past" (page 1). ~Katherine Stinson~

Wesley Weeks

The introduction to Movies and American Society argues that movies teach us how to think, specifically mentioning race. While movies and other things do in fact teach cultural values, those values must already existed within the culture to begin with. If a movie taught a value that was not already known in America, it would not be understood and Americans would likely not view or purchase the movie. Movies reproduce culture more than they create it. ~Wesley Weeks

Sarah Richardson

In response to Jason's question: The idea of the past is a powerful thing. It's "ours" in that it's a part of our national identity and perceived heritage. If a director plays around with facts in an attempt to better present a story or ideal (i.e., Mel Gibson's Braveheart), he or she will be criticized. But if Gibson had made Braveheart in a way that is more historically accurate it wouldn't have been as effective a film. Some view these factual misrepresentations as almost immoral. Historical films are a legitimate art form that when executed well can be an extremely effective historical medium. What's important isn't that these filmmakers bend the rules but rather how they do so. Historical films offer us a view into our own culture through what aspects of the "true" story the film emphasizes or de-emphasizes. - Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson

We've been talking a lot about whether it's appropriate for filmmakers to use artistic license when making historical films. How much artistic license do you think is acceptable? At what point does playing with facts completely cancel out a film's historical legitimacy? - Sarah Richardson

Wesley Weeks

The “Slaves on Screen” article focused on how the filmmakers created their depictions of history and how they can be a useful tool in understanding the past. It was noticeably silent, though, on how the person who views the movie brings his or her own preconceptions and cultural values to the film. For instance, when the movie Easy Rider was first released, many people thought the director was on the side of the people that kill the main characters at the end because they viewed that action as a good thing. – Wesley Weeks

Whitney Holcomb

I agree with Wesley's earlier comment on movies reproducing culture-- They are responsible for reinforcing and solidifying stereotypes or cultural views already in existence to some extent, and the more that do so, the more discourse created, the more effective they are. -Whitney Holcomb

Whitney Holcomb

In Why Movies Matter, Ross tells us that "whether a particular cinematic discourse is true or false is less important than its ability to create a dominant sense of reality." This statement ties together points in the introduction and Slaves on Screen, and means that it doesn't really matter whether a spectator of a 'based on a true story' film leaves wondering how much was accurate. If the director can successfully get his vision across or emphasize a view or stereotype, mission accomplished. -Whitney Holcomb

Christine W.

I thought it was really interesting how in the introduction to the book the author said movies were not historic because they "do not provide accurate, authentic, truthful, or objective treatments of history" (p. 4). While some of those things may be true about movies they are also true about history in general. Every event in the past that is retold by historians is biased in some way and how do we know what is the true, we can only guess based on evidence. Movies may be more colorful in their depiction of the past but to say they are not historical because they are not objective or truthful would mean that historians should discount any primary source written by a person because people are biased and liars. - Christine W.

Christine W.

I was surprised to read in the "Hollywood's America" article that all the first major movie producers were immigrants. I am in two immigration classes and writin my senior thesis on the topic so things related to immigration stand out to me. I thought it was interesting because movies are something Americans take pride in and so to learn that the industry was founded by people we at one time did not consider to be Americans is amazing to me and I think it shows just how important immigration is to the heritage of this country. - Christine W.

Taylor Brann

Hollywood’s America gave a nice summary of American film. One point I found really interesting was that immigrants began to dominate the movie business fairly early on. It’s ironic that newcomers to the country understood what the American public wanted to see more than American-born businessmen did. Also, HUAC accusing the Boy Scouts of being infiltrated by Communists is a little funny, but really scary too. The fact that Hollywood pulled a movie because a character tried to act as a peacemaker between warring tribes, which “might be regarded as a message for peace and therefore helpful to present communist designs”(21), gives a very clear picture of the fear caused by the Red Scare. -- Taylor Brann

Jonathan Bell

What all these readings really get me thinking about is just how influential film can be on peoples understanding of history. Even if a film presents information that is not historically true it can still influence people to believe that it is true. Without background knowledge determining what is true in a movie is very impressionistic. One of my favorite films "Tombstone" I can tell must be very fictionalized or exaggerated, but that does not change the fact that I found it enjoyable and it is my only real background on the people and events that were portrayed and leaves a strong impression in my mind. - Jonathan Bell

Juliann Boyles

As Jonathan points out, film can be a very powerful medium, with the potential to reach a much larger audience than a historical journal containing the published work of scholars. Uninformed Americans, however, sometimes have a difficult time distinguishing fact from well written fiction, a tendency that sometimes leads to controversy. For this confusion, many criticize the creative minds behind these controversial works that depict a fictional story laced with historical events and characters. I, however, believe it is the job of the viewer to be critical. A film, in its completed form is ultimately the combined interpretations of everyone working on the project. A film goer, like any good reader should analyze and consider the work before them. Even if the information presented is in written form, who is to say all the information is accurate and unbiased? Even when historians write, aren't they too trying to make a point, make an argument, stress their own interpretation of history? How is that any different from directors of film attempting to display their own interpretation of the past? If a viewer seeks the truth about a specific topic, research should not end with the credits of a movie, nor should it end with the last page of a text book.

James Drury

Good point Jonathan, movies are influential in shaping our views of history and usually leave certain impressions. Tombstone was a good movie. While thinking of westerns, it is interesting to note how many movies seem to have reoccurring themes. For example, movies usually portray Italians as organized crime goons or gangsters (sopranos/Godfather/Goodfellas), skinheads as Nazi’s or punks (American history X, Romper Stomper, Made in Britain), Indians as brutal savages with feathers in their head (most westerns), Asians as kung fu kickers(Year of the Dragon, Fist of Legend, Rush Hour), and blacks and Latinos as drug dealers (American Gangster, Scarface, Blow, Superfly and various 70s Blaxploitation movies). Many of these movies have a lot of truth to them; however, other movies like them, which have no truth to them at all, could pass as being very real to a viewer with no true historical backgrounds. Fictional aspects added to movies based on real events (whether to make them more interesting, appealing to the viewer, or to portray/introduce certain messages and images), or movies having purely fictional plots taken place in parallel situations to historical reality (I.E. Three Kings, Tombstone, MASH) seem to make the motion picture a historical contradiction, while portraying half-truth, half fiction.

Jonathan Bell

The reading from "Hollywood's America" particularly addresses the issue that even if the events portrayed in movies are not true they can still be educational by showing the beliefs and ideology of the people who made them and can give a glance at what sort of issues were important during the time the film was made. This is especially true when talking about movies that were produced many years in the past. Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will" a propaganda film made for the Nazi party is used as a way to answer historical questions such as how the Nazi party was so successful and how they portrayed themselves. - Jonathan Bell

Ashley Scutari

In the “Slave on Screen” readings I thought it was very interesting how they contrasted poetry and history. It stated that poetry can be “fictionalized” and that the certain techniques of poetry such as rhythms, metaphors, and verse forms can limit historical information. The reading also states that poetry techniques can increase the power for the features of past history. –Ashley Scutari

Kelly Wuyscik

One thing that really stuck out to me in the "Slave on Screen" reading was one specific comment the author made in regards to what critics look for as opposed to audiences. "Reviewers of historical films often overlook techniques in favor of a chronological summary of the plot or story line and the overall look of the moving picture in terms of costumes and props... The viewer responds as well to the film's modes of narration, just as readers respond to the organization and rhetorical disposition of a history book." (pg 8). The way someone is presented with information while watching a movie needs to be different from that of information presented to someone in a history book or textbook. A movie needs to maintain someone's attention through narration and dialogue between actors whereas in a history text, the words have to do all the work themselves. To me, they are two very different processes and this difference is often overlooked. - Kelly Wuyscik

Ashley Scutari

In “Hollywood’s America” it is amazing how commercialized amusement reshaped America’s “leisure activities” in the nineteenth century. In the earlier nineteenth century society was split between the wealthy and lower class with commercialized activities. Then the entertainment business expanded more and allowed lower class to receive the same amusement. Also the entertainment business promoted more towards young teenagers, which was a way to get away and enjoy more freedom. – Ashley Scutari

Shannon Hauser

At this point it is obvious we cannot analyze films in the same way we analyze historical texts. In my opinion, as much as we should be skeptical about films we should not forget that historical texts (besides primary sources) are also interpretations of events and can either be well researched or not. The narrative format of films reaches us on a different level than straight up historical texts. Right now I am looking at this class through the lens that films dance in the middle between "just the facts ma'am" and fictional novel. As quoted in "Slave on Screen", "Poetry deals with general truths, history with specific events". Films find themselves in the cross-hairs of poetry and history and it is easy to take a shot at them.--Shauser 21:30, 27 August 2008 (MDT)


James Drury

Movies and American Society reiterates that there are profound influential messages sent and received in an almost unbinding relationship between the movie watcher and movie along with and through its producers. Movie producers recreate the past, which invigorates and perpetuates history, but may also possibly dilute history, by creating or exaggerating certain aspects, also keeping in mind that movies are usually created through the moviemaker’s perspectives. Audiences watching movies sort the information presented and use it to understand how it is apart from reality and how they can relate what is in the movie to reality, later applying it to understand topics such as gender, class, race, sexuality, and most importantly, history. James


JT Newcomb

A professor in another class suggested this week that the number of things that everyone is expected to know is diminishing while the volume of things available for people to know is rapidly increasing. He made this observation concerning what you can learn in a history class. "Reel Hollywood" and "Slaves on Screen" seem to suggest that movies have taken a role long held by written documents, acting as a means to educate (in a loose sense of the word) an audience in history. I contemplated connection between these two ideas while I read. Perhaps movies are now a necessary part of our education, because we do not have the time to study many events in greater detail. What would a typical American know about the fight for Scottish independence without seeing "Braveheart"? What a person knows after seeing that movie may not be completely accurate, but they've at least received a crash course. Besides, "Reel Hollywood" argues that historians can skew the details of the past as effectively as any director... Furthur, if movies do now act as part of our education, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Do we need movies because there is more to know and less detail we are required to, or is there more to know and less detail that we are required to because we are gaining our knowledge from movies? - JT Newcomb

Amanda Russell

JT's comment got me thinking about the fact that college courses in themselves are "crash" courses in whatever we are studying. With the exception of our theses or a very well honed schedule, we receive bits and pieces of history each semester. Much like a film, if our interest is sparked, we must go outside of the original material to find out more. Perhaps this is just one way that society sees education now. -- Amanda Russell

Matt DeMarr

After reading "Movies and American society" I thought it was interesting that the producers use film to advance politics. I knew that the producers commercialize products but I always figured politics were left out of the picture.