What Does Film Tell Us About History.
Much what how we represent the past in the present is based upon reconstruction of history through various primary and secondary sources. Indeed the various approaches and methodologies within the discipline of history are divided and diverse. Historiophoty which is the representation of history in visual images and filmic discourse is one of these highly debated approaches and historians today still remain divided over the use of use of film as a valuable representation of history versus written history. I will attempt to very briefly touch upon these arguments, and demonstrate why that despite the shortcomings of historiophoty, film as a historical source cannot be ignored in a society that is becoming increasingly media orientated and that there are aspects in the study of history through film which cannot be represented by written history. Throughout the course of this essay, I will mainly be drawing references to Braveheart and Gallipoli. These 2 films are specifically selected because they attempt to re-create actual documented historical events or periods - which provides interesting grounds for comparison between written and film history, thus revisiting the aforementioned debate. Finally I will show why I believe Robert Rosenstone's evaluation that "the historical film must be seen not in terms of how it compares to written history but as a way of recounting the past with its own rules of representation" is indeed very apt and valid.
The Big Debate.
A skeptical David Herlihy, in providing arguments against the use of film says that "film, a visual medium, can effectively present the visual aspects of history but not the whole of history." This is indeed undeniably true of the limitations of the film medium. Having to be dictated by a limited timeframe, linear storyline and scenes, film can never fully capture the entirety of history.