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Historical Accuracy in Films

Uploaded by joe on Dec 13, 1999

Historically accurate movies that are also captivating have an immense burden to meet. To capture the essence of the time through a personal story that captivates movie executives who regularly make movies with Steven Seagall and Bruce Willis seems an almost insurmountable task. But difficulties in sales aside, there are two crucial elements for movies about history to be the most effective they can be. These elements are historical accuracy in a personal story, and a sense of hope. Historical accuracy does not mean trying to encompass everything that happened in a particular time period. Rather, it requires a story that highlights key elements of the period involved while containing nothing that could never have happened in the time. For example, for slavery, the key elements certainly include slave family life, slave work, master-slave relations, the master's family life, and the financial situation in which slavery exists. Each of these general categories can be broken down further; for example, slave family life would include living quarters, families being separated, families coming together, and the essential problem of creating a personal identity in an inhuman institution. But again, the historical veracity of an historical film does not mean the film must represent everyone throughout that time period. Such a film would be pretty boring. Also, an attempt to represent the "average" slave life would probably result in a banal story. So the answer for historical accuracy in movies must lie in finding an original story that hits on the key points of the era while not disabusing realities of the period in question. Historical accuracy is not the only requirement for a fantastic historical work. The key in illustrating history through a personal story is to have it contain a strong sense of hope, even in the most devastating circumstances. The reason for this is that, for a story to be the most powerful it can be, it must be understood with the brain as well as the heart. It must have an intellectual question as well as an emotional feeling. If a film is based mainly on emotion, then any ideological feelings about the practices of humanity in the past may be lost with the sickening of the heart. Titanic is a good example of this effect. It is only secondarily a story about the Titanic. Primarily, it is a fictional love story; Romeo and Juliet on the sea. Yes, it...

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Uploaded by:   joe

Date:   12/13/1999

Category:   Film

Length:   8 pages (1,782 words)

Views:   1872

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