Filming the «Discovery» of America: How and Whose History Is Being Told

Luisela Alvaray


At that moment, it was Rodrigo de Triana who shouted «Tierra! tierra!...» meaning that land could be seen on the horizon., That cry signaled the beginning of a continuous enterprise carried out through a period that from then on has been called the Discovery and Conquest of America. The shaping of this endeavor has relied upon innumerable chronicles narrated then by both priests and conquistadores of the time. Beyond the written accounts later summarized by historians, there have been a considerable number of films related to this epoch.l My attraction to these kinds of films shares two sets of questions certainly not unrelated. First, a theoretical inquiry connected to the controversial existence of film representations of History- to their validity as historical accounts- which will necessarily take me to the more general question of the conception of History itself: Are historical representations different from other discourses? Can they be connected to certain film styles? My second set of questions are ideological and connected to the actual signification conveyed through the films that will inform this analysis: Whose histories are being told and from whose point of view? Tracing out and mapping these questions will be the main purpose of this treacherous journey.

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