How do historical films affect and construct our understanding of history and historical events?

by 129674720 on November 9, 2017 - 10:13pm

                I would like to start off by saying, history is, strongly correlated to how the people presenting it through various media, how they remember or choose to present it. So history in its nature is strongly biased to the ones presenting it. There is a big part that has to do with memory and emotion. I choose to pair the two together because they affect each other. Various studies have proven that the more impactful an event to one’s life the more likely they will remember it. This explains the bits and pieces in our early childhood that we remember now. So your memory being formed depends a lot on your emotions towards the event. So the retelling of World War II would only be truly historically correct by a primary source, which I’d only consider someone who was actually involved and in the war. Often the stories made movies are supported by the primary source but not entirely. There needs to be an entertainment aspect to make it a best seller. One movie I’d like to point out to that wasn’t presented in class was Pianist, the antagonist was a real person who eventually told everyone his story. But then there are total fakes like Inglorious Basterds. These movies’ effect our understanding of World War II differently. Someone who hasn’t really been exposed too much information about it might believe Inglorious Basterds and thus absorb false realities. But more often than not people will realize it’s not true and if they know the director, Quinton Tarintino, they would also know he’s usually in it for the gore and entertainment.

Many more movies actually help us put the war into retrospect. A lot of these movies were mostly historically correct yet held an entertaining aspect to attract viewers. For example, certain movies add extra scenes to add to the plot, making it more entertaining. Tarintino does an excellent job with this in Inglorious Basterds, by creating a fictional side story derived from a real event. A movie like Anne Frank on the other hand, is based on a wonderful primary source and is very historically accurate. This movie helps us better conceptualize the war and the effects it had on the people, specifically the Jewish. This movie also touched the hearts of the viewers by creating a sense realism. As viewers, we desire a cunning story line along with factual events to tie history into the story.  The diary itself added the base of Anne Frank’s disposition. This really helps us understand the historic event from another source.

Historic events are understood differently by everyone, thus presented differently too. The media viewed also skews your perception in one way or another. Depending on where you’ve learned about the major Historic event, World War II, you will remember it differently and thus tell someone else about it the way you’ve absorbed information about it. The films on these major events construct a big part of what we know of the war in the modern day. By that, they’ve created a sense of reality of the past for us. 

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