HIST/FILM 2907: Film and Modern History

Algoma University
by MichelleLee on April 13, 2015
  History film contains many different elements in it, and most of the history films will follow the principle of fact, what they saw, what the heard, what they experienced no matter it is a documentary or creation. However, there is also another type of history film that makes their own history fact and idea up then merges into the history film.

365 | 0 | 0
Algoma University
by CZorzit on April 11, 2015
What makes City of Life and Death an important and effective teaching tool is it is able to show the facts of what on during the occupation of Nanking and portray believable characters from all sides of the fight.

389 | 0 | 0
Algoma University
by mcase on April 8, 2015
  Goodbye Lenin: Effective teaching tool?  Yes! Of the films we watched in class, I think the one I most enjoyed was Goodbye Lenin. This film had a satirical; gallows humour style that I felt was effective at communicating the complicated reality of the people in the Soviet Union.

1,202 | 2 | 0
Algoma University
by sjbyrne on April 4, 2015
Fact vs. fiction

1,724 | 3 | 0
Algoma University
by anonymous2907 on April 4, 2015
From the three units that we have discussed; (re)constructing memory, film, nationalism, & identity and individuals & events I find that they each relate to one another.  In the unit of memory the three films show how memories are constructed.  In Memento you see how a man has no recent memories and each day he has to create new memories and a way of remembering.  In The Nasty Girl Sonya’s entire town was trying to hid or forget their past during the war and so together the town seems to be creating a new memory of the events that took place.  In Waltz with Bas

868 | 2 | 0
Algoma University
by TooManyCooks on April 4, 2015
The City of Life and Death is nowhere near a happy movie. Happy movies live in a few countries over from where that movie lives. It does not hide much in way of the “reality” of the people of Nanking during their massacre. Rape and death and other atrocious acts are all shown with little concern for protecting the viewer’s sensibilities. In this lack of a desire to shield the viewers from what happened in Nanking, The City of Life and Death becomes an effective means of teaching what happened during the Massacre of Nanking.

1,832 | 4 | 0
Algoma University
by Awesom-o on April 4, 2015
     I really enjoyed the film We Were Here and the approach it took to discussing the AIDS crisis in San Francisco. I felt this film provided viewers with an interesting yet informative look into how the outbreak of Aids impacted the San Francisco gay community and the city as a whole. Prior to watching this film I had very little knowledge of this event and even less on how it impacted the people of this city. Having watched the film I feel as though I gained valuable insight in both of these areas.

1,127 | 3 | 0
Algoma University
by taylorsljolin on April 4, 2015
Films have been used as a tool to teach students about many things, and they have, and continue to be one of the most useful, and democratized ways to spread information.The Battle of Algiers (1966) directed by Gillo Portecorvo, is a film that depicts the Algerian fight for independence from the French. While films about history, war, and revolt, are quite common, few garner the kind of praise that The Battle of Algiers has earned.

669 | 0 | 0
Algoma University
by mfleming on April 4, 2015
Blog Post 3: Inglourious Basterds

994 | 2 | 0
Algoma University
by Hououin Kyouma on April 3, 2015
I found Goodbye, Lenin! To be one of the more interesting films that was shown in the course. I feel that part of what made it good was the fact that it was able to tell a story in a setting that the creators would have actually lived in and could therefore relate to. This helps the overall film as it makes the film’s historical accuracy to be rather more trustworthy than that of a film depicting an event from even fifty years ago.

1,453 | 1 | 0
Algoma University
by MCaveen on April 3, 2015
When I was in elementary school I never considered that my classmates did not enjoy learning about history as much as I did, but the realisation came eventually when I made it to grade 10 and my classmates could only talk about Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List. Why were they more excited by those movies than by learning the facts like I was?

1,381 | 2 | 0
Algoma University
by FilmFanatic23 on April 3, 2015
       Chuan Lu’s City of Life and Death (2009) is one of world cinema’s most captivating motion pictures of the 21st century. The film centres on the tragic event known as “the Rape of Nanking”, one of China’s darkest episodes occurring just prior to World War II, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, involving the mass murder and mass rape of the Chinese population of Nanjing. Before delving into a critique of both film and historic event, it is necessary to bring to attention the lack of knowledge and interest the majority of the world has on this terrible tragedy.

1,202 | 2 | 0
Algoma University
by JMarasco on April 3, 2015
            History films aim to entertain the audience while presenting facts of past events as accurately as possible. The effectiveness of historical films depends on a number of various factors such as the style, quality, acting, directing, and overall goal of the film. Two major styles used to present historical films that we have seen in class include; documentaries and dramatic feature films. The two styles are very different in terms of effectiveness each with separate positive and negative aspects.

1,922 | 1 | 0
Algoma University
by eHarkin on April 3, 2015
In the 2011 film We Were Here that we looked at in class, we got to experience the AIDS/HIV epedemic that spread through the USA in the 1980's. The style of depiction, the individual narrative, was a good choice on behalf of director David Weissman as it engaged the audience on a very emotional and very personal level.

598 | 1 | 0
Algoma University
by Skywrathful on April 3, 2015
One of the most importants ways that we learn about history is through the individual narrtive. Eye-witness accounts of certain events and eras of history can provide us with much more detail than trying to piece together an event after it has already occurred. Archaeological sites, for example, provide crucial artifacts and evidence for events, and civilizations, from thousands of years ago but diaries, documents, and art give a deeper insight into the culture.

379 | 0 | 0
Algoma University
by DKrishka on April 3, 2015
Blog Post #3 Documentaries and Historical Importance

1,412 | 2 | 0
Algoma University
by tyharris on April 3, 2015
Biopics, Documentaries and Hollywood Films  

364 | 0 | 0
Algoma University
by Enz_17 on April 3, 2015
The last film we watched was a documentary on the impact that the HIV/AIDS outbreak had on the gay community in San Francisco in the late 1970’s to the early 1980’s, called We Were Here. The film uses the perspectives of five individuals, from varying backgrounds in the community (Eileen, Guy, Paul, Daniel and Ed), to recall their experiences of the events and issues during that period.

619 | 1 | 0
Algoma University
by knizzle on April 3, 2015
Narrative is a central part of story-telling, and what is history if not a long story. Films look to accomplish a similar task on a less scholarly scale. With the introduction of characters in movies, albeit at times these may be portraying actual historical figures, we see the personal quality of their story while history looks to maintain a certain degree of objectivity to validate its claims. In recounting stories, it would seem that drama has found an advantage through the artistic liberties it has come to enjoy.

480 | 1 | 0
Algoma University
by Szorzi on April 1, 2015
The film “We Were Here” is a documentary that uses the memories of five people to recount the tragedy that was the AIDS Crisis. These stories work as a collective to tell of the joys that gay community experience but also of the sickness that spread quickly among the community of gay men in San Francisco in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, among all the tragedy that was occurring at the time of this crisis, each person tells of the compassion and the unity of others in their attempts to aid and comfort those who were suffering.

523 | 0 | 0
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Teacher

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Student

|
Reply to: Blog Post #1
1 year 9 months ago
n/a

n/a

1 year 9 months ago

While I agree this film does make a good documentary, I do think a perspective was left out of the film. The film focuses entirely on different soldiers experiences during the documentary while leaving out the perspective of a common citizen that may have been on the other side of the gun. I think it paints a different picture and can really show the horror that was captured at the end of the documentary. Would we still think the same of those depicted throughout the film? Would we have less sympathy? I think these questions are addressed with more viewpoints than just soldiers. While the film gives major incite of the events of the war, a common man's view may just have been effective or paint the whole story. Overall, I still think its good film, I just want a full picture considering when what voices should be used to tell the story of the war.

4 years 3 months ago

Although I agree with you in your argument that historical documentaries do not receive the same amount of attention as a documentary like Planet Earth received, I think that you need to stray away from the definition of what a documentary is and look at historical films themselves as the larger picture.
But first, I would like to continue your debate about certain documentaries being more popular than others. I believe that this happens because obviously some documentaries are just much better than others. I recently watched Tricked on Netflix, a documentary about young women being tricked into prostitution and I did not enjoy the documentary at all. To me, it was just a rehashing of information that I have heard time and time again about these situations. It did not offer solutions, only suggestions on how to stop this horrible reality. To me, if I do not learn anything new or have anything new to take away from a documentary, then its purpose was lost. Another reason for certain documentaries rising to fame over others largely has to do with who is involved with it. A well-known director’s documentary will have a large viewership over a first-time director right off the bat. Even something as simple as a recognizable voice doing the narration will bump viewership and sometimes even acclaim. I would watch a documentary with narration by Morgan Freeman, David Attenborough, Patrick Stewart, Alec Baldwin, or Benedict Cumberbatch over somebody that I did not know. I do believe that documentaries are slowly making a comeback though. Everybody wanted to make a documentary as documentaries like March of the Penguins, Planet Earth, and An Inconvenient Truth were exploding into mainstream media, but quickly faded away. However, the creation of mockumentaries has brought back the interest and population of documentaries. Shows like Parks and Recreation, The Office, and, Modern Family have created a new-found love for this time of format, even if it is untraditional.
To return to my point about looking at historical films as a big picture for documentaries, if you compare We Were Here, a documentary that featured people from a wide range of viewpoints of the epidemic, and City of Life and Death, a historical film that featured characters from a wide range of viewpoints from the occupation of Nanking, the only difference I see is the “title” it holds and the use of fictional characters. City of Life and Death does an amazing job at portraying the atrocities that happened during the occupation of Nanking and I’m sure it would be very similar if it was a documentary based on testimonials of people who lived during this period. If you look at historical films as a type of documentary or as an evolution of the documentary, you will see that the same informative storytelling about an event is all around us in mainstream culture, just under a different title.

4 years 3 months ago

I whole heartedly agree. The movie is good in multiple senses, it's captivating and it paints the picture of the three realities of people getting through this era of change. At first I wasn't sure if I would agree with calling it a satirical piece, but then I recalled how the word 'capitalists' was used and how there were plenty of comedic characters who worked to get the point across. This movie was eye opening to me, because as a westerner and a capitalist I myself forgot that not everyone in Eastern Germany would be happy when the wall came down, and not everyone would run towards capitalism and western ideals. It was a friendly reminder to myself that I am a product of my world just like Alex's mother was a product of hers and I have been told to fear their world as they have been told to fear mine. It is a good piece to talk about the fall of Eastern Germany, but also to provide information about communism. We may not have grown up in the time of the Cold War but we are a product of it all the same, we are only told the negatives of communism, it is painted as the evil other and we never for a moment stop to think about individual people and how they believed in their society the way we do in our.

4 years 3 months ago

The first point in your blog post, that historical films present a unique method of communication for students, is one with which I strongly agree. Films are very important for not just entertainment, but also for education. Film is a widespread form of media with which almost every person can say they are familiar, and because of this popularity film becomes a very powerful medium through which information can be shared. History especially can be shown through film, whether it be a documentary, a dramatization, or a combination of the two. Film has become a staple in the way that people understand and learn about history. And not just big-budget films either. Footage of war-zones is just as important as the recreation of said war zone, if not more important. The personal narrative also plays a huge role in the way that history is presented on film, as was seen in We Were Here.

4 years 3 months ago

I agree with your article, because the memories that contain in the history are really interesting, and after reading your article, I think we have the same idea of this issue.

The way of memory being effect is giving me a new idea of what to believe, for example how people build up memory, how people package their memory and how people protect themselves by rethink about their memory, these information allow me to ask and understand why to believe and kind of understand why survivors will talk in this way. Then the following films are all have some parts that related to the memory, I guess this is just what human being is built for, and to choose Waltz with Bashir at the early film at the beginning of the semester is a smart move.

4 years 3 months ago

I agree with you. I don't think, when hearing someone talk about history, that accuracy is the important thing. Oh sure, you can probably collect enough testimonies that you can weed out what was possibly invented by accident or exaggerated or whatever and give yourself an alright understanding of the specifics of the event. Really though, that's not the important part, the reconstruction. The important thing IS the talking. You brought up the imperfection of memory, and I agree on your points about it. Are there going to corrupted memories that will hurt the accuracy of a story? Oh absolutely. I can barely tell you exactly what happened last week with clarity, so how can someone telling their story remember every last detail? What matters is what they saw. It doesn't matter if it wasn't empirically true and doesn't hold up entirely to what historians have established about what actually happened. What matters is this: it was their truth.

4 years 3 months ago

I completely agree with your sentiment that We Were Here should be used as a compliment to research into the topic of HIV/AIDS during this period in San Francisco. While the movie is certainly a fantastic way to learn about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it only shows the tales of 4 men and 1 woman during the period and while individuals can speak for a community as a whole, especially regarding something as devastating as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we certainly cannot call the film the ‘whole’ story. Tens of thousands of men and women were affected by the HIV/AIDS outbreak, as well as their families. Nonetheless, We Were Here is a fantastic educational tool and should certain be seen as an effective and worthwhile film.

4 years 3 months ago

I think we don't necessarily need to dramatize history for students to connect with it. It's very easy to say and read "6 000 000 Jews died" or "120 000 Allied soldiers died in the Invasion of Normandy." It appeals to that logical side of someone's head to give them numbers and textual descriptions. I don't think history needs to be dramatized such as it was in the films you mentioned or be made into a lesson plan. They just need to see it. They need to hear it from someone who was there. Those statistics need to be ignored for a minute and instead of being told that people died, they need to hear from people who saw the people die. Films like Shoah or We Were Here do this very well. Very little in the way of hard and fast statistics is presented to the audience. It’s just someone talking about what happened. You see their faces as they work through their emotions of the event. By hearing and seeing it, you build your own interpretation of it. And I realize as I’m typing this, I’m already proving myself wrong. This would only apply to recent history. Anything before 1900 or thereabouts will be very hard indeed for a student to see, as there would be very little in the way of a good testimony from the people of that time. So, yeah, in the end I agree with you. Film would be a perfect way for a teacher to get their foot in the door. As well, a potential entry way for teachers might be the YouTube series Crash Course: World History, hosted by the young adult literature author John Green. Very informative, engaging, etc., and would act as good way into the minds of the students, getting them ready for further investigation into a time period or event.

4 years 3 months ago

I strongly agree with your point of view. Many of us having grown up far from such event as the holocaust or the rape of Nanking and in a distant period of time have little connection to these events. As a result it is hard for a individual to grasp or emotional connect with the severity and horror these atrocities inflicted on those forced to endure them. By seeing them through film and being able to connect with the characters, individuals such as myself are able to see these events for more then just a number representation of the death toll, but rather the affect it had on the individual person. Having witnessed these events through film I feel like I gained a more in depth appreciation for effects these events had on the individual and just how terrible they truly were.

There no collaborative classes

About the author

Institution

Class Subject