Walker: the dramatic film as historical truth .

Robert A. Rosenstone


Among academic historians there is a general, if largely unarticulated, feeling that historical works done on film, particularly dramatized history, can never be as worth wile or as "true" as historical works done on the printed page*. Such a notion seems to arise from a sense that words are able to provide a serious and literal past reality that film, with its supposed need to entertain people, can never hope to match. To combat such a shortsighted view of the possibilities of history on film, I want to show the ways in which a single historical film can create a past that is at once complex, important, challenging, and "true". My point: to see that one film can make a contribution to historical discourse is to admit that the visual media can be used seriously by those who wish to create and understand the meaning of the past.

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