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Hollywood Prezi v3
Transcript of Hollywood Prezi v3
Grace A. Tanner Center, Distinguished Faculty Lecture Committee, & Rohn Solomon
SUU Convocations & Ray Grant
Colleagues (especially in HSS and CEC)
Rita, Alyson, & Amy Osborn
Margaret Grish (Mom)
Historians & Filmmakers
I'd Like to Thank The Academy . . .
America's Civil War:
Hollywood vs. History
Earl F. Mulderink III, Ph.D
Professor of History & Director of the Community Engagement Center
Grace A. Tanner Distinguished Faculty Lecture
September 10, 2013
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
First Hollywood "blockbuster"
Viewed by millions
Controversial then and now
Solidified pro-South, anti-black,
anti-miscegenation views of Civil War
Thomas Dixon & D. W. Griffith
Embodied "Lost Cause"
Drew upon President Wilson
Successful rewrite of history
Celebrated birth of (white) nation
"Lost Cause" Glorified
Influenced by Griffith's & Dixon's works
White Southerners fought gallantly
Black slaves remained loyal and happy
Hattie McDaniel won Academy Award (as Mammy)
Movie's impact endured for decades
Great Resources at SUU &
Many of Them Are Free (Sort of)!
Thanks to Sage Platt &
K.Jae Barbadillo of SUU's Speech and Presentation Center
The Sherratt Library has a fine collection of resources (known as "books") that focus on film history and studies.
Most of my resources were here at SUU, but interlibrary loans worked every time.
The Movie Business
"Blockbusters" created in "factory" system
Movies shape public opinion
Who Owns History?
Filmmakers vs. Historians
Hollywood favors simple dramatized stories
Historians see complexity
Civil War and History in Film
D. W. Griffith defended filmmakers
Civil War films outnumber other wars
Context is crucial
The "Lost Cause" and White Supremacy
White South portrayed positively
Loyal & contented slaves
Abolitionists started Civil War
Racial stereotypes endured in film
The Birth of a Nation
Hollywood movies have evolved in their portrayal of black characters from Prissy in Gone with the Wind (1939) to . . .
Sergeant Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) in Glory (1989) to . . .
Cecil Gaines "The Butler" (Forest Whitaker), 2013
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning best-selling novel
Cast included Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh
Lengthiest, second-most costly Hollywood film
New color technology
Most successful film in history
10 Academy Awards in 1940
#1 movie quote of all time
Margaret Mitchell 1937
50 years later, Hollywood featured black soldiers
$20 million budget with box office take under $30 million
Script based on Robert Gould Shaw's papers
1,500 re-enactors enhanced authenticity
Popular praise and scholarly acclaim
What Glory Misses
Historical errors and inaccuracies abound
Regiment NOT mainly runaway or former slaves
Frederick Douglass given only a cameo
"Dramatic" scenes never happened
Fort Wagner siege in wrong direction
Real African-American heroes ignored, such as William Carney
Steven Spielberg project over ten years
Tony Kushner finished screenplay
$50 million production & $15 million promotion
Much Praise for Lincoln
Twelve Academy Award nominations
$275 million gross
Informed millions about Lincoln's leadership & wartime politics
Inspired interest in Civil War & Sesquicentennial
Lincoln Movie - Other Takes
Movie features fictitious scenes, dialogue, characters, and even Congressional votes
Past century has seen clear evolution in Hollywood's portrayal of African Americans, and some change in depictions of the Civil War.
Still, as Brian Willis notes, Civil War films "tell us more about the times in which they appear than the periods being depicted on the screen."
Ken Burns's The Civil War is highly recommended, although flawed.
Hollywood's historical historical movies should never be viewed as the "last word on a subject," Robert Brent Toplin reminds us.
If you want to know more about the Civil War and its sesquicentennial, see more movies and read more books!
"One iron rule remains true. Every decision is shaped by the money men's perception of what the audience wants."
-- Martin Scorsese
"History always has been and always be regularly rewritten . . . [but] that
does not mean that history is simply a series of myths and inventions."
-- Eric Foner
"Real history, as opposed to reel history, is often complicated, contradictory,
-- Robert Brent Toplin
"More people have formed perceptions about the Civil War from watching Gone With the Wind than from reading all the books written by historians since Selznick's blockbuster debuted in 1939."
-- Gary Gallagher
"It is like writing history with lightning."
-- President Woodrow Wilson
Movie replaced Birth of a Nation as "most impressive and profitable cinematic expression of the Lost Cause."
-- Gary Gallagher
"The most powerful and historically accurate film ever made about the American Civil War."
"Glory is probaby the best Civil War movie ever made."
"I didn't even know that blacks fought in the Civil War."
-- Paul Finkelman
-- Denzel Washington
"A rough and noble democratic masterpiece. . . Mr. Spielberg writes history with lightning."
Movie "grossly exaggerates" its main points.
"Movie ignores or distorts roles played by African Americans in securing the 13th Amendment and ending slavery."
Movie has finally repudiated
"the moonlight-and-magnolia view of the slave South. . . [and] ought to remove, once and for all, the lingering stain of the Lost Cause mythology."
What do you think?
-- Eric Foner
-- Kate Masur
Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln
Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens
Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln
-- Sean Wilentz
-- A. O. Scott
Colonel Shaw and Matthew Broderick
Morgan Freeman as Rawlins & Denzel Washington as Trip
-- James McPherson
Dr. Earl Mulderink
2013 SUU Distinguished Faculty Honor Lecture
America's Civil War: Hollywood vs. History
September 10, 2013