Film and Perspectives on History Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

The newsreels are a successful thematic device as they are used to guide the viewer through the details of the events. It was the decision more so of the studio executives to leave some things out as they only used what would drive the story of the horse. Only upon further investigation of the history does one gain a fuller knowledge. Still the filmmaker's intention of getting the story to the forefront of the American consciousness was successful and met critical review.

Malcolm X

In the film Malcolm X, Spike Lee misleads the viewer about the full nature of racism held by the Nation of Islam. The Nation of Islam characters in the movie say that whites are "blue-eyed devils," but never revealed to viewers is the doctrine about whites being eliminated in racial Armageddon. Furthermore, Lee did not limit the film's context to historical accounts; instead he chose to put in messages that push for revolution today. For example, while the movie begins with Denzel Washington, in the role of Malcolm X, speaking in which he denounces whites as "the number one murderer," the images of the 1990s; in particular, images of Rodney King being beaten are shown. This juxtaposition creates a tension for the viewer and its view of race relations. In other words, these images distort reality to the point of feeling discomfort. Also at the beginning, in between images of the King beating and of the Malcolm X character speaking; there are images of an American flag burning. By the end of the film, the viewer knows the meaning and cinematic purpose behind this powerful image. After the bulk of the film ends, it having shown a historical account of the black Muslim's life, Nelson Mandela comes on as himself to speak about the need of blacks to be treated like human beings and when Mandela says that "we intend to bring [such rights] into existence," Lee edits the image of the real Malcolm X speaking and giving the following conclusion: "by any means necessary."

The use of music and more specifically the Arrested Development song "Revolution" also builds the tension of Lee's overall message of dislike toward 1990s race relations. It is obvious he is passionate and emotional about the subject. His choices directly influence the viewer's point-of-view and the historical account of Malcolm X's life. In particular, Arrested Development momentarily offers "it's either the Ballot or the Bullet," but then reveals the group is that the artists have chosen the latter option when they follow up with the following: "come now, revolution." This goes along the same premise of Malcolm X that if progress is not made then other tactics must be taken so that the Black man no longer needs to be alienated by Whites.

It is significant to note that many media today follow the notion that Malcolm X became a non-racist after his pilgrimage to Mecca in the summer of 1964. What is evident from his speeches that came after his pilgrimage is that he no longer propounded Nation of Islam's doctrine about racial Armageddon. What many in the major media do not seem to consider, however, is that he continued threatening a race war, even after pilgrimage, if progress was not made. Additionally it should be notes that although Malcolm X did see, after his pilgrimage, the possibility of working together with some whites, he threatened a race war with those white not sympathetic to his cause. Lee does not go into this detail. He hopes to create an economic divide by creating a racial divide when all he really expresses is anger and injustice toward his people. This, at the time, made many liberal minded Whites uncomfortable and disheartened.

Conclusion

In some ways movies are not just entertainment but also catalysts for thought outside of the story. An historical event and its portrayal on film can inspire the viewer to seek out more information while questioning the elements of the event. One will wonder what really happened and was the event accurate or just another Hollywood hit meant to make millions? Is it possible to change the event enough to profit at the box office? What is the intent of the director and the producer or even the studio executive? Does the portrayal suffer because of artistic expression or the influence of the Hollywood political machine? Tompkins reflects, "What really happened in such a case is that the subject of debate has changed from the question of what happened in a particular instance to the question of how knowledge is arrived at. The absence of pressure to decide what happened creates the possibility for this change of venue" (733).

Filmmakers use the medium of film as a means of expressing their ideas and view of the world whether it is an original story or an historical event. The trouble with filmmakers using history as a genre to appeal to the mass audience is that most times the view of history is skewed to fit the status quo perception of the event. As the paragraphs below will examine with the three films of The Best Years of Our Lives, Seabiscuit and Malcolm X, these filmmakers worked to bring the stories of historical events to light and used different film techniques to accomplish this feat. However, the trouble with such history in the movies is that many people belief the filmmaker over the historical account. This is troubling as much as filmmakers try to bring the truth to the screen; most times they are presenting their own opinion.

This paper will explore the truth and fiction of the above-mentioned films and look at the different techniques in which the filmmakers chose to tell these stories to the public. In this day and age the real danger is that people will actually believe the fiction as truth. This paper works to establish a foundation for people to discover not only the value of history but to look beyond the images found in film's historical portrayal.

Works Cited

Malcolm X Dir. Spike Lee. Perf. Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett. 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, 1992.

Seabiscuit. Dir. Gary Ross. Perf. Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper.

DreamWorks Pictures, 2003.

The Best Years of Our Lives. Dir. William Wyler. Perf. Myrna Loy and Fredric March.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer, 1946.

Tompkins, Jane. "Indians':…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Film And Perspectives On History" (2005, April 24) Retrieved December 7, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/film-and-perspectives-on-history-66557

"Film And Perspectives On History" 24 April 2005. Web.7 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/film-and-perspectives-on-history-66557>

"Film And Perspectives On History", 24 April 2005, Accessed.7 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/film-and-perspectives-on-history-66557

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Film Analysis of the Patriot Colonial America

    Film Analysis of the Patriot Colonial America For the purposes of this paper, the film of focus will the Patriot. This film was written by Robert Rodat and directed by Roland Emmerich. The film has quite a cast, including stars the late Heath Ledger, and Mel Gibson, both of which have substantial film careers and reputations both on and off the screen. The film was released in 2000 by Columbia Pictures, a

  • Film Noir in Its Classical

    The fact that she flirts with gender roles and norms is equally as dangerous. For Corky, the danger is manifest in the potential betrayal and also in the eventual show down between the women and their male captors. Jessica is portrayed as a more passive figure, as a more classic pre-feminist femme fatale; whereas Violet is a more active figure, a true "postfeminist good-bad girl hybrid." Things happen to Jessica,

  • History Book Video the History

    Although the consumers of Europe may have profited from cheaper goods in the short-term, the film shows that the oppression of the proletariat at home and the exploitation of natives abroad was in fact part of the same system that enriched the bourgeois and aristocracy, and kept others in their service either by fear or through the dispensing of small economic rewards. Trade is thus viewed with a very cautious

  • History and Development of Sound Technologies and Sound Design in...

    sound technologies and sound design in Film Sound in films Experiments in Early Age Developments Crucial innovations Commercialization of sound cinema: U.S., Europe, and Japan Sound Design Unified sound in film production Sound designers in Cinematography Sound Recording Technologies History of Sound Recording Technology Film sound technology Modern Digital Technology History of sound in films Developments Sound Design Sound Recording Technologies The film industry is a significant beneficiary of performing arts. The liberal arts combined with latest techniques and advancements experienced a number of stages. The

  • Film Theory Film and Reality

    The spectator is unwittingly sutured into a colonialist perspective. But such techniques are not inevitably colonialist in their operation. One of the innovations of Pontocorvo's Battle of Algiers is to invert the imagery of encirclement and exploit the identificatory mechanisms of cinema in behalf of the colonized rather than the colonizer (Noble, 1977). It is from within the casbah that we see and hear the French troops and helicopters. This

  • Movies and Methods Volume I

    Not only does Nichols provide a good context for the many paradoxes that can confront film studies with his insightful and thoughtful introduction, but he also shows how sharing approaches and methods can help to stimulate a lot of the best writing regarding film. In addition he shows many of the common problems that are seen and deals with the contradictions that appear. Like the first volume of the anthology,

  • Film Noir Among the Various Styles of

    Film Noir Among the various styles of producing films, it has been observed the noir style is one that has come to be recognized for its uniqueness in characterization, camera work and striking dialogue. Film Noir of the 1940s and 50s were quite well-known for their feminine characters that were the protagonists, the femme fatale. This was most common with the French, later accepted in the United States. There might have


Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved