Action! packed presentations
Is it possible to accurately tell a history story on film, and and have it also be engaging and entertaining to viewers?
What about in a theatre setting? When historians collaborate with actors, directors, cinematographers and others, is the final project a reflection of compromise, or does one participant's vision have to ultimately rule?
This morning, I managed to fit in two separate presentations, each dealing with history on film, or more accurately, historians participating in filmmaking.
The first presentation was a round table, titled "Theatre, History, Storytelling."
Participants came from the full spectrum -- there were historians who acted or act as consultants to theatre companies, historians who have had their works adapted into films, as well as directors, and playwrights, who are both tasked in their own ways with interpreting history and presenting it in a fashion that engages their audience.
Tough questions were raised.
What is the role of the historian? To ensure accuracy in the details of the history displayed in the production?
What if the movie or play is a revisioning of something like Macbeth, and the director wants to move the time period several centuries into the future to "update it" for the audience? Does a historian argue that this destroys the accuracy of the piece? Or are they really there to ensure authenticity -- that the work is true to the intentions of the person who first produced it?
The second session, titled Film and Public Memory, explored the way film can help us understand our understanding, and in some cases, misunderstanding, of the way we think we understand the past. (Now that's a mouthful!)
The bottom line for both presentations? That film is an extremely complicated medium in which to tell a history story, raising many questions for both the people who make them, and the audience that views them.
Thankfully, many historians are up to the challenge.
Posted: 01/06/2010 11:27:23 AM
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