Film and History: Reanimating the Past

As many historians will tell you, writing history is itself an act of fiction. And when film recreates the past, the result is clearly an artistic and inventive production. So it's perhaps curious that recent Hollywood productions based on history, i.e., Oliver Stone's J.F.K., Robert Redford's Quiz Show, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves, or Spike Lee's Malcolm X, have all been criticized by some as historically inaccurate or untruthful. For twenty years it has been taken for granted that Hollywood often takes dramatic liberties, so it may seem ludicrous that critics are suddenly holding it to another standard. But in fact, it's this "reanimating of the past," to use film historian Bill Nichols's phrase (see the article in the catalogue), that reengages us with bygone issues and politics and gives this perspective some validity. Film historian and director of the UCLA Film and Television Archive Robert Rosen will moderate an exploration of the relationship between film and history and its impact in the present. He will be joined by Bill Nichols and critic/author Pat Aufderheide as well as major film directors and writers in what is sure to be a fascinating discussion.


Robert Rosen
Bill Nichols
Patricia Aufderheide
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