Blockbuster History Films Essay

Blockbuster History Films Essay

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History films have often been criticised by academics and journalists as inaccurate depictions of the past. Yet there is no denying the fact that blockbuster history films are increasingly influential in shaping our understanding of historical people and events thanks to the accessibility of the medium. Producers of these films often take liberties with facts to tell a more dramatic, engaging and entertaining story. They have a basis in truth but are greatly influenced by the writers’ and directors’ desire to envelop the audience in the story and to entertain. They focus the visual and auditory senses of the viewer on the subject being studied creating a stimulating and forceful impact on the viewer, therefore engaging their interest. Popular films have undoubtedly increased interest in history and many historical feature films contain much accurate information about the period in which the film is set and portraying the events which took place in vivid detail; something which no text book can achieve. For this reason historical films are extremely valuable as they open up the past to the masses.
The Patriot (2000) is a dramatic and affectionate film depicting a determined man’s quest to defeat British forces during the Revolutionary war with the assistance of his local militia. According to historian David Horowitz, The Patriot, he writes, “reassembles the elements of the national myth into a powerful homage to liberty and to the American colonists who gave their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to its cause.” At the start of the film the audience are introduced to Benjamin Martin, played by Mel Gibson, an everyday American intent on remaining neutral. Martin, a South Carolina legislator, greets news of the Declarati...

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...orically appropriate” according to Miller . Furthermore, in reality Proctor was a victim of town rivalries, not a scorned lover. The Crucible is able to show the audience life in the Puritan colonial period better than any other historical source therefore making history accessible to everyone wishing to learn more about the period.

Films of the past have invaded the classroom in recent years. Whether they are historically valuable or not will be debated amongst historians for years to come. With the growth of this media, historians have now become involved in the process of making films; acting as advisers on film projects, dramatics and documentaries. Film creates a historical world with which the written word cannot compete, at least for popularity, therefore making them valuable as they open up history to everyone with an interest; whether in education or not.

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