Historical Events

Please choose ONE of the following prompts to complete a five-to-six-page essay.

  1. Post-War: The final theme of the course focused on the end of the war, its immediate aftermath, or its longer legacy (Ashes and Diamonds, The Law and the Fist, All My Compatriots, and Aftermath (evening film)). Write an essay that considers how these films dealt with important post-war themes, including, but not limited to continued nationalist insurgencies against Communist regimes, post-war justice against wartime collaborators, local complicity in the Holocaust, restitution of property, the creation of a new Communist state, or another relevant theme of your choosing. What differences or similarities do you see across the films? Include at least three films in your essay. Be sure to include specific evidence from the films (scenes, quotes, etc.).
  2. History and Film: Considering the intersection between film and the discipline of history, a well-respected historian of early modern Europe, Natalie Zemon Davis, wrote, “…historical films should let the past be the past.” In contrast, historian and film scholar Robert Rosenstone argued that the “…best of historical films…can intersect with, comment upon, and add something to the lager discourse of history out of which they grow and to which they speak.” Using Rosenstone’s article, “The History Film as a Mode of Historical Thought” from Week 1, discuss the ways in which historical films can inform (or not inform) history and add (or not add) to historical discourse about the past. You can agree or disagree with any of Rosenstone’s key points about film as an important contribution to historical thought. Draw from at least three course films to support your discussion.
  3. Form and Historical Content: Throughout the quarter, we saw directors employ a variety of genres (drama, tragicomedy, action/blockbuster, horror, action, western, thriller, etc.) to explore several historical themes related to the Second World War and post-war period. Write a comparative essay discussing how these genres and their aesthetic, narrative, and conventional approaches affected the portrayal of historical events, people, and spaces. For instance, were comedic elements in some films helpful? Did certain types of dialogue/script writing help or hurt? Did special affects add anything special? Your essay should consider at least three films. You can argue for or against certain genres as successful mediums to engage with historical events, or simply compare and contrast different genres. No matter your path, make sure your discussion is based on evidence and argumentation, not simply an opinion about which genre you “liked” more.

Note: You can choose from films included in previous essays, but you must provide new content

– meaning do not repeat discussion of scenes or aspects already covered.

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