American History In Motion Pictures Essay Research

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American History In Motion Pictures Essay, Research Paper American History in Motion Pictures We were there while the Titanic sank, we stormed Omaha Beach at Normandy, we saw the Battle of Gettysburg in person, and we rode throughout the west with Wyatt Earp. We were able to do this because Hollywood allowed us to journey to these historic times through the movies. Hollywood allows us to journey back in time to see how people lived, to witness the major events that shaped our world, and help give us a better understanding of a time period that we might not otherwise grasp. The movies help give us a visual picture, of the past, pictures that might not be easily extracted from a book. The means by which history has been taught has changed dramatically throughout the course of

history. Ancient cultures taught history through the oral reciting of events. Giving the teller the freedom to change history but also giving people a closeness with the story. With the introduction of the written word a more scientific approach was taken and an event could be studied and analyzed by many different people, this created a more linear way of thinking about history. By putting historical events into movies it changed the way history was perceived. History was no longer only on the page of a book it was now visual. It had the ability to show things that were hard to describe in words, throwing several things at the viewer in one scene where it would take twenty pages to describe the situation on paper. It had the ability to reach a new audience and the ability to

spread the knowledge of events to people who would not learn it from a book. The change has been so drastic that a history class of today would probably learn more about the Civil War from the movie Gettysburg than from reading The Killer Angles, the book from which the movie is based. ?It is history written in lightning.? Former president Woodrow Wilson spoke these words after seeing D.W. Griffith’s masterpiece The Birth of a Nation in 1915. The Birth of a Nation is considered as Hollywood?s first ?blockbuster? movie and is a historical picture. It is the story of the south during reconstruction and how the people must fight outside forces to maintain their normal lives. The Birth of a Nation served as a format for historical pictures for many years to come. Moviemakers began

to adapt famous novels, plays, and events into movies to draw a crowd and to also serve a teaching purpose. One author suggests that, ?One of the key functions of the new mass entertainment industry was to inculcate American values in the new immigrants and the only tried and true values were the old rural Protestant values of self-help, stern morality, a respect for family life, and a commitment to traditional sex roles.? Nowhere were these values found more than in novels and in the records of history. The main theaters of the time were filled with these new immigrants and the movies that were coming out of Hollywood, while entertaining, instilled this American moral code in them. Until recent years war movies were not produced with any negative connotations toward war, with

the mild exception of a few, namely the adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front. War films showed the romance and adventure of war and did not dwell on the actual horrors of it. They were there as propaganda and they helped build a strong sense of nationalism in the country. Only after the civil changes of the 60?s and 70?s have anti-war movies such as Born on the Forth of July, Apocalypse Now, and Platoon began to take a new and different look into war. Each of these generation?s movies definitely reflect the atmosphere of the time, yet another way that movies can be linked to historical study. The accurate recreation of events is a problem that Hollywood must contend with. How do you make a historically accurate film with out going into too much boring detail? Since most