“Movies and History”


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Elizabeth-Burton Jones
“Movies and History”

Movies can rarely be completely historically accurate. There is always one flaw to the tale that has the ability to set the whole story off course. But why is this important? It’s just a movie right? Yes, movies are movies and fantasy is fantasy, but the historical accuracy of movies is an important topic because movies are intrinsically linked to the media, read as history books, and the image from the screen becomes etched in our cultural memory.

“THE ROUTLEDGE COMPANION TO SEMIOTICS” edited by Paul Cobley, is an interesting reading that at times can be a summary to the world of semiotics. While reading,  the notion of the medias influence on culture, really sparked my interest. The reading mentions that “… as the media change, so too do the sign systems of culture” (135). This can be exemplified by historical movies and reflections of history.

The movie “Pocahontus”, is a fantasy cartoon. However within that fantasy, there’s an ounce of confusion. For instance, in the cartoon movie, it appears as though Pocohauntus married John Smith. However, in reality she married John Rolfe. Even though the “Pocahontus” movie is great and has a lot of truth, different people could take this as a history textbook. This is just one of the countless examples of “period” movies that change the way people think and the information that they are given?

This is important because these movies are meshed together with reality and people can interpret the meaning however they want.

Questions:

If media influences society then what does that say about stereotypes in the “Reality TV” market?

Why are “period” movies flawed? Why does it matter? How is the meaning mixed up and is the mixture of the meaning truly important?

If a person doesn’t educate themselves before watching a movie, what are the dangers of watching a “period” movie? Is “ignorance bliss”?

References:

http://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/10-historically-inaccurate-movies.htm#page=0

http://pocahontas.morenus.org

http://www.cracked.com/article_15014_11-movies-saved-by-historical-inaccuracy_p4.html

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/learning-history-at-the-movies/

http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/theory/Danesi-Semiotics-of-Media-Routledge-excerpt.pdf