A number of the films deal with issues of authorship and whose voice should be used in telling a story. Whose stories are being told in films (or a specific film) we watch in class? Who should tell these stories?

by tombarry2410 on December 5, 2017 - 10:24pm

Many of the films from this course take multiple perspectives in the ways they look at historical events.  Hidden Figures looks at much Ignored African American mathematicians and how they effected the space race; Selma follows Martin Luther King Jr through the challenge of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting marches; and Waltz with Bashir follows Ari Folman through his life as a soldier in the 1982 Israel-Lebanon war and more specifically his involvement in the massacres in Sabra and Shatila. This films all show the different perspectives that a film can take whether looking at an event from the perspective of a leader, someone forgotten by history, or from multiple perspectives.

Hidden Figures looks at three females, African-American mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race. Primarily looking at Katherine Johnson a NASA mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for early missions such as Project Mercury. It also looks at the lives and experiences of NASA engineer Mary Jackson and her experience in trying to enter a segregated white school during the civil rights movement, as well NASA supervisor Dorothy Vaughn and her struggle to become a supervisor at NASA due to racial bias. This film looks at the space race taken from people who aren’t given the historical credit for their addition to history. This is most prevalently shown in the case of Katherine Johnson who’s impact on Project Mercury and its eventual success are largely ignored by history. This shows an interesting case of how history can be told from the perspective of someone who didn’t lead a historical event but was an important part of it and shows us a perspective oft ignored in lieu of a figure more important to a historical event as a whole.

Selma looks at the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting marches from the perspective of Martin Luther King Jr. It follows his personal story through the events of the marches ranging from the political difficulties he has with the march; to people challenging his position as figurehead of the civil rights movement; and his own his own personal issues such as his infidelity to his wife. All of these paint an interesting picture of King’s life but they lead to some issues with film overall. Prior to King's arrival the film uses an ensemble cast to set up the situation in Selma such as Annie Lee Coopers fight for her voting rights and the events of a the bombing of a Baptist church by the KKK. Characters such as Annie Lee Cooper and then largely ignored once King’s arrival happens rather than the way the events of the marches effected people outside of king. This shows that sometimes when focusing on a larger character the stories of the people that were affected by the event can sometimes be ignored.

Finally Waltz with Bashir looks at the life of Ari Folman and how it was effected by his experiences during the 1982 Israel-Lebanon war and his involvement in the massacres in Sabra and Shatila. The difference between this film and others is that the stories are told from many perspectives as Folman has little recollection of his own of how he was involved in the war. This leads the film to be told more from the perspective of Folman’s friends who tell their own stories to inform Folman of his life in the war. This telling from multiple perspectives allows the story of the Israel-Lebanon war to be more than just one person’s story but a telling of the story of the war as a whole. It differentiates it from the other films we have looked at as whilst it may not be as in depth as the other films it tells the general story of the war better than many of the other films.

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