Blog post 1.What purpose does film serve in the history classroom or in the telling of history? Yuki Inoue

by yukiinoue818116 on October 4, 2017 - 10:39pm

Question 6: What purpose does film serve in the history classroom or in the telling of history?

            Some people may say that films are just films, and they are just for entertainment. However, I believe that films serve the purpose of going into people’s minds automatically, and especially when they want to study, they are very effective. Films are something that people have watched definitely at least once in their lives. Films are somehow related to our lives. We sometimes watch them for fun, but sometimes they are for studying.

I have my university back in Japan. During the last year, I studied history of black slaves and Abolitionism in the United States of America. In class, my homework was watching films about them which my teacher assigned us. The films included “Glory,” “12 Years A Slave,” “Roots,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Malcolm X,” and so on. They are basically the historical movies, and I learned a lot about black slaves in the U.S. At the same time, I gained the knowledge of how serious the situations were at that time. There were a lot of issues on discrimination and violation against black people, and they still exist. I did not know anything about them until last year. Every time I watch the film in this class, they make me realize that how effective historical films are when I want to learn history. As I wrote in the first tutorial preparation, I easily forget everything including important things. Therefore, it is easier and faster for me to understand the context when I watch and hear something important through my eyes and ears because the context automatically comes into my mind. In contrast, when I read books to preview for the class, the memories about the content disappear before the class for sure. Some people do not like to study, sitting on the chair and holding a pen, and I am one of them. However, in my case, when it comes to watching films, my tension gets taken away regardless of types of films. Besides, every film has its own messages or lessons for the people who watch it. Therefore, films serve the purposes of automatically going into people’s minds and leaving deep impressions on them. When I only study, read textbooks, listen to the teacher, and write down what the teacher says and teaches us, I only gain the knowledge, and use and study it only for the exams. However, films are quite different from studying. Films give us not only the knowledge but also messages or lessons which catch our attention and impress us. For example, when I watched “Memento,” it gave me a new idea; having tattoos in order to remember events. That idea was completely what few people come up with. I was impressed by its new idea. In addition, when I watched “Waltz with Bashir,” it also gave me an idea of how seriously the main character struggled to remember what has happened in the war. In my opinion, people sometimes forget what has given a huge impact on them or something too shocking for them. However, I think that the harder they try to remember, the faster the memories come back. I have imagined how I would be if I lost my memories. It would be a nightmare because even though I want to remember everything that has disappeared, it is almost impossible because I cannot control my memories. Moreover, I have heard that the starving children with big stomachs because of lack of nutrition started to appear in Biafran War. In the first year of my university in Japan, I studied poverty and the connection between poverty and education in the African continent. I learned a lot about poverty, prostitution, and lack of education, so I have some knowledge of the starving children with big stomachs. It was good for me to know that they started to appear in that war because I gained the important information.


            To sum up, films are essential to study history in the history classroom because they have sounds and moving images which we can understand the content when we see and hear. Therefore, historical films are recommended in order to study history because they are more effective than reading books, listening to the teacher, and studying it for the exams. Films give people impressions and messages which persist in people’s minds and hearts. 

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