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 Posted: Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 02:36 pm
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HankC
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Not only do visuals have had a much shorter history than the written word, but the production is entirely different.

An author may write ‘Billy was very kind to animals’.

To make the same point in movies, one has to come up with a scene to demonstrate the same.

Or, more on point, a writer may say ‘the column toiled through ankle deep mud, past wagons mired to the axles and mules too exhausted to continue. They bivouacked in the rain, scraped the mud from their legs, downed some sodden hardtack and shivered under their sodden blankets until daybreak.’ Imagine, though, what it would take to create this scene in a film…


HankC



 Posted: Tue Aug 24th, 2010 04:47 am
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Hellcat
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I think it's the exact opposite, Hank. I think a lot of the cave paintings of prehistoric man were actually them recording their history and the world around them. This would make them the earliest form of literature, which was strictly visual.



 Posted: Tue Aug 24th, 2010 01:45 pm
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HankC
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Thanks.

I was struggling for a word to tie together movies, TV, phonecams et al: scenes in motion.


HankC



 Posted: Tue Aug 24th, 2010 09:28 pm
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Captain Crow
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My one concern is in the public's ignorance of historical fact. Often I converse with someone who has seen a dash of fact, mixed with gallons of fiction, and has taken it for the real story. It doesn't affect someone like myself because I have a base of knowledge to judge such things by. But just think how our history may be distorted if the current trend towards historical illiteracy continues...imagine 100 years from now...."Okay dudes....uhh I mean class....today we are gonna discuss how Tom Hanks saved private Ryan and won...ummm...that war thing that happened...uhhh like sometime way back in the days when people read books and stuff."



 Posted: Wed Aug 25th, 2010 05:58 am
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Hellcat
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It seems that even if we eliminate the movies and TV series that is still going to be what happens unless you can get more people interested in the subject. And just saying the written word is the only answer doesn't seem to be the answer. I've seen plenty of folks who say their not interested in history because it's boring. Then some of these same folks turn right around and want to know everything there is about the Titanic or the Spartans or Pearl Harbor because of movies. Usually you can tell which ones believe the movies to be true because they quickly loose interest in the subject matter when they find a lot of what they believe from the movies is false. But there are others who become more interested when they learn this to be the case. They suddenly want to know the real history behind the movies. But otherwise they think history is boring.

It's my opinion we can't simply dismiss movies and TV shows depicting historical events just because Hollywood fictionalizes them. Anything that can start getting people interested in history can be a useful tool. Otherwise we are just dooming the future by saying there is only one way to teach history. There can't be just one way. Had it been just about books then I'd never have been interested in the subject as a kid. My interest came from the fact that my family tended to visit historic places when I was a kid. It was being in these places where history had occured, seeing the sights that garnered my attnetion. I have little doubt that there have been others for whom it has been movies that caused the same thing to happen. Caused a willingness to go beyond what's seen or encountered and learn even more.



 Posted: Wed Aug 25th, 2010 07:17 pm
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20th_Mass
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This discussion reminds me of an episode of King of the Hill when Hank helps build a stage for a play about the Alamo. At rehearsal Hank is horrified when he sees that they have put there own spin on the story of the Alamo. They have Bowie drunk out of his mind and Crockett running around in a dress screaming "I surrender." Hank goes to the director angry telling him this never happened and the director responds with "how do you know this didn't happen."

None of us can really say if Chamberlain gave the "swinging gate" command or gave a flowery speech before attempting to take Marye's Heights. Just because it isn't documented doesn't mean it didn't happen and just because a soldier wrote in a letter home about an incident doesn't mean it did happen. The soldier could be honestly mistaken. Producers are stuck with a difficult task in presenting history as it actually happened and need to make adjustments to make a movie that will sell.



 Posted: Sun Aug 29th, 2010 01:46 am
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Captain Crow
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Personally I would think if those involved in these productions are talented enough to make a movie/show about a given subject...then they could make it entertaining without slaughtering the facts for the sake of a buck. Take a movie like "Braveheart" for instance....That movie is so far from the truth as to almost be fiction...but ask someone about William Wallace and they may spout something about Mel Gibson in a kilt....but that will most likely be it. Interest in history wont be kindled in today's theaters....but it can be kindled at home if an environment of learning is maintained. There is I admit, a movie that was recently released that I almost regard as precognitive in it's accurate portrayal of man's possible evolutionary future......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nseyKfQX0ZI

Last edited on Sun Aug 29th, 2010 01:52 am by Captain Crow



 Posted: Sun Aug 29th, 2010 12:12 pm
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Mark
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20MA, reading your post reminded me of a Simpson's episode where Lisa does historical research on the founding of Springfield and uncovers some facts that threaten to demolish the myths that the residents hold dear. You make a good point about the producers having a different goal than the historian. I'm so glad this thread has generated such a great discussion!

Mark



 Posted: Tue Aug 31st, 2010 04:02 am
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The producer oversees the production of the film or show. The director over sees the actual filming. It's the director's vision we're getting and they'll either following closely to the script the writer/writers give them or they'll use it as a loose guide.

Yes, the director's agenda may not be the same as the historians. But again can we really say there is no place for films and TV series in getting folks interested in history? Did you not say, Mark, in the Foote vs. Catton thread that it was Gettysburg that got your gnereation interested in the war? That's an example of a film being used to garner interest in history. I wouldn't be surprised if director/writer Ron Maxwell wasn't interested in telling history but rather telling the story of The Killer Angels.

Let's also remember that we accept stories as actual history even now just because they may be written down. That does not mean their the actual history. Everyone knows the story of Betsy Ross making the first American flag. It's taught in school to be the case. But that story came from her grandson in 1876 and has since come into question. One of the reasons for that is the lack of Ross' own records of the event. As her source of income was being a seamstress, she's known to have kept detailed records of all her jobs. So why didn't she record that? Also, why didn't anyone else mentioned as going to her actually record anything about having her design and make a flag for the nation?



 Posted: Thu Sep 2nd, 2010 07:48 pm
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ole
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 Interest in history wont be kindled in today's theaters....but it can be kindled at home if an environment of learning is maintained.
And in living history presentations, re-enactors, and odd-balls like us who keep CW discussion boards alive.

Ole



 Posted: Tue Sep 14th, 2010 10:54 pm
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Captain Crow
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Right on ole.



 Posted: Wed Sep 15th, 2010 01:31 am
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Hellcat
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I just wonder at what point, if any, visual history will replace the printed word as the primary way the public learns about history.
Wouldn't re-enactors and living history presentations fit as visual history? Mark brought up the fact that people were learning history from movies at least as far back as the '20s. I recently saw CameronsHighlander mention re-enacting going back to the Roman times and bring up naval engagements being held in ampitheaters and re-enactments of battles such as Thermoply and Marathon. What are the chances people learned their history from watching these?

My point is that we can't just rely on books or even an enviroment where learning can be maintained. We have to try and use everything possible to encourage an interest, even if what it has to say about history is not compeltely accurate. It doesn't matter how well maintained the enviroment is if a person is not interested. If their not interested their not going to be willing to learn. Use things to fuel an interest in the subject then once fueled build that interest so they can understand the difference between what's seen and what may actually have been.

Re-enactors and living history presentations are better than TV and movies, but their not infalible. In the War Reenactments thread (http://www.civilwarinteractive.com/forums/forum24/2042.html) it's brought up that a WWII vet offered to show WWII re-enactors how they actually wore their uniforms and gear only to be told they didn't need his help because they'd watched movies and photos of how to wear these things and what to carry. The man then explained that these movies and photos had been done before the soldiers actually entered combat so that the actual way had changed. And I got into discussion with a re-enactor years ago concerning the Congressional Medal of Honor and he tried telling me I had no idea what I was talking about only to have another re-enactor back me up. The discussion was about the creation of the medal and I'd just recently read about the order of creation online, the guy backing me up had read a book on the medal. It comes down to what has been learned as to what can be passed on. And what has been learned may have itself come from visual sources.

With re-enactors you also get back to interest in the subject. If they were not interested in the period their re-enacting then would they be re-enacting that period at all. Or even putting enough effort into learning about the era to get it right?



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