Truth and entertainment : historical film as a representation of the past in the works of selected filmmakers
The aim of this study is to interrogate the validity of Historical film as a representation of the past and a source of historical knowledge, in the work of Richard Attenborough, Claude Lanzmann, Angus Gibson and Jo Mennel and my film practice, using Robert Rosenstone’s theories, the 6 Codes of Representation (Rosenstone, 1995a) and the 4 Modes of Invention (Rosenstone, 1995a) as a theoretical framework. The main research question is: How can Historical film preserve the historical integrity of a subject whilst entertaining the viewer? Three different film genres were analyzed using this theoretical framework. Films included the Historical Drama Gandhi (1982), the Historical Documentary Mandela (1996) and the Experimental Historical film Shoah (1985). This research interrogates the degrees to which history presented on film can be altered, without becoming an invalid representation of the past. Research outcomes have concluded that the Historical film will inevitably dramatize a subject in order to appeal to a larger audience. However, in making a Historical film, a filmmaker’s decision to stray from historical facts must be supported by a sufficient justification of any significant fabrication, and an explanation of how it benefits the historical subject. This study informed my practical component, consisting of a treatment and storyboard for what I term a hypothetical Historical Experimental film, exploring the Aversion Therapy. These therapies were practiced on SADF conscripts in order to ‘’ cure’ them of ‘illnesses’ such as homosexuality (Kaplan, 2001). It is my hope that this study and proposed film will encourage people to investigate and discuss the Aversion Therapies, creating an awareness of a subject that has had little exposure post 1994.