• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Do Historical Films help or hinder our understanding of the past? Discuss with reference to one or more films.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"Do Historical Films help or hinder our understanding of the past?" Discuss with reference to one or more films. Historical films help our understanding of the past because they enhance our knowledge of past events in ways that are more accessible than written sources; however, historical films also hinder our understanding of the past because feature films based on historical events are merely for entertainment purposes. Historians are divided as to whether historical films help or hinder our understanding of the past. Alan Munslow argues that historical films hinder our understanding of the past as he suggests how films are "at worst an inventive entertainment that can only do permanent injury to our understanding of the past."1 However, alternatively, Robert A. Rosenstone agrees that historical films help our understanding of the past as he argues that "a feature film can provide a construction of the past as legitimate as a book written by an academic historian."2 Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List and Oliver Hirschbiegel's Downfall (Der Untergang) are two films that illustrate how historical films both help and hinder our understanding of the past. Spielberg's Schindler's List helps our understanding of the past because the producers choice of a film in black and white rather than colour, allows Spielberg to create a realistic atmosphere, and thus places us into this dimension of memory.3 Spielberg's Schindler's List hinders our understanding ...read more.

Middle

However, on the other hand, the historian Alan Bullock in his biography24, rather than just focussing on Hitler dictating his life and his anti-Semitism, goes on to suggest how Hitler As his successor he appointed Admiral Donitz President of the Reich, Minister of War, and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces - and promptly proceeded to nominate his government for him.25 By not mentioning Hitler's chosen successor in a film based on Hitler's last days, would not be of any value to historians, and also to audiences studying the period, because it may distort our understanding of Nazism's legacy. Furthermore, in the film, before Hitler commits suicide, Hitler informs Gunsche that he wanted to be burned so that he could not be put on display.26 Although, accurate, Alan Bullock, further explains Hitler's decision for his body to be burned, rather than falling into enemy hands, was influenced by his received news of Italian Fascist Dictator Mussolini's death on the 28th April 1945.27 A scene not showing Hitler's reaction to this prior to his own suicide could perhaps limit our understanding of the past. By thus creating inaccuracy, historians still debating Hitler's death, would not benefit from this depiction of Hitler's last days. Furthermore, Downfall hinders our understanding of the past because the film appears to portray Nazi criminals in a favourable light. ...read more.

Conclusion

239 19 Pelzer, "The Facts behind the Guilt?", German Politics and Society, p.95 20 Pelzer, "The Facts behind the Guilt?", German Politics and Society, p.95 21 Downfall (Der Untergang), (2004), Film, Directed by OLIVER HIRSCHBIEGEL, Germany: Constantin Film Production 22 Alan Bullock, "War-Lord 1939-45", (ed.), Hitler; A Study in Tyranny, 1952, 2nd ed, 1962 (Pelican Books), p.794 23 Downfall (Der Untergang), (2004), Film, Directed by OLIVER HIRSCHBIEGEL, Germany: Constantin Film Production 24 Bullock, "War-Lord 1939-45", Hitler; A Study in Tyranny, p.794 25 Bullock, "War-Lord 1939-45" (ed.), Hitler; A Study in Tyranny, (Middlesex, 1952 and 1962) p.795 26 Downfall (Der Untergang), (2004), Film, Directed by OLIVER HIRSCHBIEGEL, Germany: Constantin Film Production 27 Bullock, "War-Lord 1939-45", Hitler; A Study in Tyranny, p.798 28 Georgescu, "Hitler's Downfall Revisited", Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, pp.371-377, p.376 29 Jurgen Pelzer, "The Facts behind the Guilt?", German Politics and Society, p90-101, p.97 30 Rosenstone, 'Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to our idea of History , p.127 31 Arthur Marwick, "The Communication of Historical Knowledge", The New Nature of History, (Palgrave, 2001), p.188; p. 235 32 Pelzer, "The Facts behind the Guilt?", German Politics and Society, p.95 33 Marwick, "The Communication of Historical Knowledge", The New Nature of History,p.188; p. 235 ?? ?? ?? ?? Mark-James Fisher History Module 1002: Presenting and Representing the Past Essay 1 Dr. Mark Sandle 8 Page 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1920-1949 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1920-1949 essays

  1. The Re-Unification Of Germany.

    Confederation The idea of a German confederation was for a while the most favourable, however it was soon ruled out due to being unworkable. If a confederation was to be formed of the FRG and GDR, it would be unstable due to the huge inequalities between them.

  2. To what extent did the Tsarist and Soviet governments control and influence music in ...

    I have used it as a sourcebook for primary materials to which I would otherwise have had limited access. 21 Maes, p.353. 22 ibid, p.354. 23 Schneider, Peter Otto (1966), preface to Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in D minor, op.

  1. Can Franco be described as a truly fascist dictator?

    However extreme racist theory was all about absent from Francoism. Overall it is clear to see that Franco's social and domestic policies can be described as Catholic and socially conservative rather than ultranationalist and fascist. Another key theme which needs to be analysed is Franco's economic policy.

  2. J. Robert Oppenheimer: An Unappreciated Genius

    A child threw a ball out of the lot, and the school director admonished the youngsters, telling them they might have injured a passerby. Robert immediately calculated the probable force with which the ball had struck the sidewalk, demonstrating that its velocity could not have hurt anyone (J.

  1. Source Analysis - Was Hitler really Master in the Third Reich?

    He will personally know Hitler and there are few better people to interpret Hitler?s leadership qualities or lack of qualities. We also notice that Wiedemann?s role at Hitler?s side ended in 1938, which has significance in terms of his judgement on Hitler?s role in the party.

  2. Critically evaluate the skills you have begun to acquire as a historian. Why and ...

    Being that Historians operate by rules of evidence it is pivotal to differentiate through these. Another skill I have developed is debating and arguing, although we have yet to have any organised debates in class. Studying History requires that in written and oral form, arguments should have structure and be relevant and concise.

  1. Amongst the various acts of barbarism and repression in Europe during the 1930s and ...

    Despite the fact that there have been countless horrific acts of terror and injustice perpetrated throughout history, the characteristics of the holocaust make it distinct from these other tragedies.12 Browning bring across two views on the Nazi holocaust. The 'intentionalists' view focuses on Hitler's ideology.

  2. Given the resources of the Grand Alliance, the defeat of the Axis powers was ...

    determined in great measure by issues of production, scientific discovery, military reform and social enthusiasm. In 1944, only weeks before the Normandy Invasion, the bombing offensive against Germany denied the German forces approximately half their battle front weapons and was a successful attack.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work