October 31st, 2008

Matewan is an interesting movie. From our study and discussion it is apparent that it is one of the most historically accurate of the films we have seen thus far. It does however revolve around two completely fictional characters, Joe and Danny. This is only somewhat disconcerting because they both represent well a certain view in labor history. Joe is a pacifist who embodies a true union supporter – wanting the union to accept blacks, immigrants, etc. so that they can work together to achieve their objectives. Danny (according to Professor McClurken) can be associated with those individuals who shared their first hand experiences of this massacre with director John Sayles. Many of them would have been around Danny’s age at the time of the event.

Overall there is much more to compliment about the film than there is to pick apart.

On the topic of whether or not the degree of historical accuracy of a film directly correlates to how “slow” or “boring” the film is… In a way I agree that there is a correlation. I immediately think documentary and cringe. But if you really think about it there are decent films (entertainment wise) that do portray a section of history very well. Matewan wasn’t my favorite movie, but it did fit into both categories – entertaining and historically accurate, so maybe it is one of the exceptions to our rule. AND maybe it is due to the lack of industry pressure that Sayles is able to create such a film… I like this explanation.


October 26th, 2008

This movie doesn’t really deserve to be talked about in great detail, at least not in a historical context. I agree with many peers’ references to Pocahontas. Wyatt and Pocahontas are much the same in that they are both historical characters whose stories have been completely mangled into myth from the perspective of ONE very wrong side of the story. Pocahontas was English-ized and turned into a classic tale of romance and the integrating of cultures. Wyatt was warped into some hero who was ‘just passin through’ when an unfortunate sequence of events happened to his brothers. The key to this story is that Wyatt and his brothers were the victims of the story, when in reality it doesn’t seem to be so. The real travesty for the story is the death of James – inspiring Wyatt to take the law into his own hands and avenge his lost cattle and dead brother. Sigh- not at all what happened. It does make for an interesting story (as did Pocahontas’s reworking), but it is certainly not something to dwell long on given that our purpose of viewing it was to find it’s historical-ness.

We did manage to find a few somewhat accurate portions – the thin line between female entertainer and prostitute (as demonstrated by Chihuahua (GREAT name by the way)), the landscape and garb seemed pretty accurate (they filmed in the desert and wore a lot of the same clothes as was common in that time – the one exception being Clementine), AND to me, most importantly there was a sense of taking the law into the hands of average citizens, which as demonstrated in numerous readings is pretty accurate.

Overall – not a very entertaining movie, and not at all a historically accurate one. At least it was pretty short.


October 7th, 2008

Glory has an all star cast that nearly rivals that of Amistad and to me falls around the same spectrum of historical accuracy as Amistad as well. Glory has individual pieces of truth, but fell short on the grander scheme of things. While there was a fair amount of racism shown within the film, it seemed like just a drop in the bucket of what truly was going on during the civil war. It demonstrated a very small portion of racism within the Union army, but fell short on showing exactly how much 99% of whites, both northern and southern, did not trust blacks. I also wondered if there was a different reason for the 54th to be placed at the front of the initial assault on the fort, could it be that minority troops were less important and could therefore be sacrificed more easily? I felt that this movie filled stereotypical roles for blacks and war movie characters in general. Overall I felt that this movie is much like Amistad and the Patriot in that there are historical inaccuracies intertwined, but overall the main purpose was to portray a historical even in an entertaining way (in which style, things have to be rearranged etc. to achieve this).

Gone with the Wind

October 2nd, 2008

Ok, first and foremost, I am disappointed by my classmates who did not bite the bullet and admit ignorance in regards to the carpetbagger/KKK situation. Thanks guys for letting me take one for the team. In regards to this part of the movie, let me give context and say why I was confused: In the second part of the film (disk 2), Scarlet is married to Mr. Kennedy. She goes for a ride through a carpetbagger shanty town and is accosted by a white guy and a black guy. Sam, the loyal slave from Tara, saves the day and accompanies her back home. The men gather for a “political meeting” and leave with their weapons in stow. The Yankees come to arrest Ashley and the Dr. for “taking the law into their own hands.” From this I assumed that the men were “reasserting their masculinity” by protecting their women folk by attacking the Yankee carpetbaggers who had harassed Scarlet that day. Apparently I was supposed to read through the lines and subtlety to know that there was a white supremacy undertone. I felt that now that it has been laid out for me, I can see it somewhat, but by no means is it as blatantly obvious.

Overall, I can see why this film is so immensely popular. Besides the length, I enjoyed it. A few things…. 1. The blacks depicted in the film are apparently better than they would have been without the actions of the NAACP and black actors. I really don’t see how it could have been that much worse, given the black support behind Ashley to work as the KKK, Sissy’s character in general just killed me – so ignorant, so worthless, so annoying… enough said, Mammy and Sam’s unconditional loyalty… I could go on and on. 2. The villianization of the Yankees is expected… but really overdone – to a point of historical inaccuracy (ex: Sherman’s march where the damn Yankee’s burned everything in their path).

Good to know that we have no more 4 hour movies left.