The challenge of informing an inquisitive American public about the nation’s own two-hundred year old tragedy—slavery—has not fallen squarely on the shoulders of historians and other scholars. Artists, and particularly filmmakers, have played a central role in helping the larger public grapple with the horrors and indeed, aftershocks of human bondage.
An extravagant party on the rooftop of a Havana hotel. It’s the late 1950s; hedonistic tourism is booming in the City. A band plays loud. Drinks. Laughter. Our line of vision moves from the hotel’s rooftop to a crowd of tourists below, where we see a woman and follow her into the pool. Underwater….Hailed today a classic for its inventive cinematography, “I am Cuba” was virtually forgotten for three decades.
The new film 42 tells the story of Jackie Robinson’s heroic effort to integrate Major League Baseball.
Wayne Blair’s The Sapphires is the best new historical film that you most likely have not seen, yet. It is based on Tony Briggs’ 2004 play with the same name and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.
As a French historian, I was bombarded with questions from friends, family members, and even strangers about whether I was excited to see “Les Miz,” the film version of the wildly popular stage musical, which was released in December. For some reason, knowing that someone who studies French history is excited to see Les Misérables makes people want to see the film more.
We all know that films on historical subjects distort events for the sake of entertainment. The goal of this review is to examine this latest rendition of slavery in popular culture from a historian’s point of view to see how those distortions are used and what affect they may have on popular ideas about slavery.
Anne Buford’s documentary Elevate focuses on several Senegalese youths and their attempts to make it out of Senegal through basketball.
Argo is the story of the Americans’ ordeal and their relatively miraculous escape—and in this it delivers. It is unfortunate, however, that the film presents these dramatic events against a simplified backdrop that diminishes the complexity of the Iranian political scene at the time.
Steven Spielberg’s latest historical drama chronicles the 16th President’s final months and the struggle for passage of the 13th Amendment by the House of Representatives. Despite the excellent performances turned in by the star-studded cast, “Lincoln” has a number of shortcomings from the historian’s point of view.
“The Descendants,” directed by Alexander Payne, opens with a voice-over by protagonist Matt King (played by George Clooney), a wealthy Oahu lawyer, about how everyone assumes that Hawaii is a paradise.