Homework Question on The Film “Walker”
Film: Walker (1987)
Chasteen, Chapter 5, “Progress” and “Countercurrents”
Robert A. Rosenstone, “Walker: The Dramatic Film as (Postmodern) History,” in Revisioning History: Film and the Construction of a New Past, 202-213 (On reserve = PN1995.2 .R48 1995)
Grading of Written Work:
- The paper must be about history, that is to say, the relationships between the film portrayals and written historical accounts. You may summarize if and only if the finer points of the material summarized are relevant to the evaluative argument.
- The weekly, two-page paper should address the problems and potential benefits of each week’s assigned film and readings as depictions of history. For further elaboration, read my essay entitled “Never Read History Again? The Possibilities and Perils of Cinema as Historical Depiction,” in Based on a True Story.
Homework Answer on The Film “Walker”
Over the years, historians have given preference to the written historical accounts over the history portrayed in movies and films. The question of whether films are appropriate sources of historical knowledge has been as complicated as the issue of whether films are a depiction of reality. As Rosenstone (1) elaborates, opponents of films as a source of history argue that films are fictional and tend to represent the pre-determined theme of the director.
However, films should not be classified as a singular item since they fall into different categories. While some movies may not qualify to transmit history, there are certain classes of films that are appropriate historical sources. This essay explains why films are just as suitable sources of history as the written documents.
Firstly, academicians disregard films as an appropriate source of history because films are fictional and may idealize typical situations. For example, some may argue that scenes like those in the Walker exaggerate the circumstances in the age of robber barons by portraying it to be bloodier than it actually was. However, idealization of typical cases is also possible in written historical accounts. For instance, there is no notable difference in the depiction of the Walker by Rosenstone and the movie itself.