A thorough but uneven study of the presentation of history in film.

A Critical History of History in Moving Pictures

An examination of how the film industry has interpreted and depicted history from the early 20th century to the present.

In this debut work of film criticism, Dunbar offers a detailed examination of how historical topics have been presented in movies, from the days of silent films to the present. Although Dunbar doesn’t ignore the question of a film’s artistic merits, his primary focus is on how well the movie presents an accurate view of history and if it provides the viewer with an engrossing sense of the past. The book moves both chronologically and thematically through Hollywood history (non-U.S. movies are addressed toward the end of the book). Dunbar displays an encyclopedic knowledge of movies, citing dozens of films in detail as he explains how historically effective narratives—John Adams, Band of Brothers—distinguish themselves from the rest of the industry. The book isn’t shy in its judgments: The Production Code Administration was an “idiotic agency of moral regulation”; “any film maker who undertakes to portray the members of that ‘Greatest Generation’ as anything less than they were is committing an act of cultural and historical libel”; John Wayne is “the prince of phonies.” The result is a highly idiosyncratic approach to historical analysis, and its effectiveness depends on how much credence readers are willing to give Dunbar’s interpretation. The high frequency of misspellings, from the names of notable historians (Leopold von Ranke; Thomas Macaulay; Herodotus) to filmmakers and the authors of works cited in the text (Barbara Tuchman; Steven Spielberg; Jeanine Basinger; John Huston) to simple typos (“New Wold,” “Sargent,” “profit” for “prophet,” “grizzly” for “grisly”), is evidence that the book could have benefited from further editing. In addition, the book’s inline citations make frequent references to Wikipedia.

A thorough but uneven study of the presentation of history in film.

Pub Date: March 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491868850

Page Count: 438

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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