Posts Tagged ‘Aguirre: Wrath of God’

Five of my favourite films

12 January 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

Last term I had the opportunity to show a film to my early modern European history classes. Film and historical dramas have become one of the primary places that the average person experiences history. History enthusiasts of course have documentaries, but only a small minority of people who engage with documentaries. Viewing a historical film can be a thoroughly rewarding experience for those who are interested in history but these films often have to be taken with a pinch of salt. While taking tutorials, however, I became increasingly aware that students often take for granted the accuracy of very sensational historic films and television series.

While explaining the Tudor and Stuart family tree in tutorials there were constant references from my students to That other Boleyen Girl, Marie Antoinette, The Duchess and Young Victoria. In Ireland the legacy of Michael Collins has coloured most people’s experience of modern Irish history and the film and its romantic portrayal of the War of Independence seems unavoidable when dealing with Ireland in this period. As a tour guide I am also becoming increasingly aware of the lasting impact of The Wind that Shakes the Barley which many American people view before they come to Ireland. That said, The Tudors also seems to be a favourite amongst many of my visitors.

For good or bad Hollywood and HBO are the touchstone for many people’s basic knowledge on historical events. The fabulous costumes and dramatic plot twists understandably stick in people’s minds more readily than their study prep for junior cert history. But this touchstone can be put to good use in the class room. Students seem to react positively to film, even if it is just short YouTube clips. We are, more than ever, in a television age. Read more