My apologies for the absence this last weekend, oh loyal viewers — wherever the five of you may be.
I took a little time for myself following the Honors Conference (both my panel and a few friend’s panels I attended on Saturday) to focus on the last few assignments I have to complete before the semester is over. Next week.
I’ve also spent a good chunk of the weekend letting the existential dread of realizing that “this week is my last full week of college” drape over me like a heavy blanket.
Seriously, what? That’s not real. Who allowed this?
To be fair, I may go back to school one day and get a Masters or teaching credential so I can be a teacher in my later years. Seems like that would be a cool way to give back after I make a name for myself.
But that’s not really a matter for here and now. I’m mostly just nervous about the incoming inevitability of having no excuses to not go after that name.
But not really, because Amazon isn’t paying me. If anything, I’m paying them — or at least my family is.
I will say the re-listen has been pretty worth it. Not only does the audio book make it easier to reacquaint myself with differences between the written and cinematic versions while doing other work, the act of listening is that much more fun because Wil Wheaton is reading it.
Wheaton’s reading leads to some beautifully meta moments, because he is personally mentioned in the story.
For instance, Wade Watts (the story’s protagonist) talks about Wheaton as a great representative of user interests on an elected council in the virtual reality world of the OASIS.
He says those lines without a shred of irony or winking to the audience, and it’s great.
But yeah… That has basically been my life. Everything y’all missed over the last couple days, other than helping a few friends through their own stressful life situations and watching Kill Bill with my family. Alyson had never seen it, and we needed to rectify that.
I know it’s a hot take for me to say it, but that movie is genuinely still incredible. A visual splendor.
If you need a little stress relief, like I have with all this impending graduation fatigue, go watch yourself some Tarantino. Or play a little Don’t Starve.
Yeah that’s right, these developments are so monumental that they’re one step more advanced than the obvious ‘Jurassic’ developments joke I could have made to attract attention from Spielberg fans.
Unfortunately the dinosaur conceit is also just clickbait.
Sorry y’all, but the promise of this neat-o dinosaur ice cream waffle was too much of an enticing image not to use! I found the window graphic while wandering Del Amo Mall for lunch with Mom and Aly and fell in love.
Especially after my friend Mitchell suggested their potential ultimate marketing strategy of the Green Tea-Rex.
I have no idea if they actually capitalized on that idea because I never tried the Waffle-saurus Rex.
Gotta use one of the best gifs of all time to punctuate a self-deprecating joke.
Going further down the school-related rabbit hole, I also got an email today letting me know that CSUF Commencement tickets are officially available. As much as graduation-related stuff stresses me out, that is an important step in the process.
Or at least… It would be.
If the website worked.
For some reason the link to buy graduation tickets leads to an endless loop of security verification.
I wager the traffic of people going after tickets at once isn’t doing so great on the school’s website.
You’d think the network would be better prepared, but there must be too much energy going toward the development of more parking space. Another thing I got an email about.
The extra spaces are needed, even if it’s unfortunate that permit prices are hiking up $50 or so to facilitate the construction.
Luckily I’ll be a graduate who doesn’t need parking permits by then!
So hey, it’s not all intimidating and bad.
With those major Cal State Fullerton developments, the only other thing I can think to tease is a fairly big interview I scheduled for Gladeo Wednesday. Not sure I want to give it away because I’ve been pushed off once already, but let’s just say it’s a nice, recognizable name.
That’s about all I have for the night. My first day back to school tomorrow is going to be punctuated by a Cognitive Psychology exam, so I wanted to write-up something quick before I get back to studying.
Here’s hoping my lethargy in that department somehow pays off.
While taking a break from doing my homework, reading chapters from Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” ironically enough, my family finally watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Honestly? I wasn’t very impressed.
As the middle in the trilogy rebooting Spielberg’s classic Jurassic Park movies, Fallen Kingdom kicks off three years after the first Jurassic World. The park that was established in that film has been abandoned, and all of the freed dinosaurs are at risk when the island is set to explode in a cataclysmic volcanic event.
When Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are brought back to help rescue a number of species for a philanthropic conservationist, they discover more sinister motivations under the surface and must take on both greedy human beings and powerful, ancient beasts.
While there’s a decent set-up here, it isn’t executed very well. At all.
I’ll be spoiling bits and pieces of this movie here, though not in too much detail (in my opinion). If that’s a concern of yours, here’s your warning.
Fallen Kingdom falls apart almost immediately with the introduction of some weak tertiary characters. In the time since Howard’s character left the theme park she once led, she became a dinosaur rights activist.
Which yes, is about as overt a metaphor as it sounds.
Two of her assistants, Franklin (Justice Smith) and Zia (Daniella Pineda), come along on the rescue mission. Their status as bigger players in the film are indicated with as cliché an introduction as it gets. They’re the only members of what looks to be a semi-large staff who have speaking roles, and those roles are mostly playing off of each other as bickering friends.
Then as they start to fly to the old park, their archetypes are immediately stated. Smith is a scaredy-cat technical nerd and Pineda is a dinosaur veterinarian (yeah) who takes no nonsense from anyone.
Neither changes over the course of the movie and only appear enough to help move the plot along, so they feel like one-note comic relief.
Perhaps that’s harsh, as they play their roles well. But they get a lot more screen time during the early part of the movie — which is kind of the worst part. So that might have colored my perception.
Pratt does a good job as a leading man, though his performance isn’t exactly inspired. Meanwhile, Howard’s character seems to take a complete 180 from her original role and seemed like a totally different character.
Granted, it has been a whole since I saw the first Jurassic World, so maybe I’m just not remembering her quite that well. But with that in mind, her performance seemed a bit jarringly out-of-character.
However the biggest problem with the film is the fact it’s hard to even begin suspending one’s disbelief while watching it.
For instance, at one point Pratt’s character is partially paralyzed and literally rolling out-of-the-way of a pool of magma slowly encroaching him.
The movie has next to no tension up until the finale because of things like this.
Things like this make other silly bits stand out in a bad way. At one point a character was watching footage of Pratt’s character training the main raptor from Jurassic World, Blue, while it was young.
The scene itself was obviously meant to help emphasize the larger moment, his character completing an arc from being willing to abandon the dinosaur at the start of the film to remembering how much he loves it, I was so generally disinterested that I couldn’t help but think about other strange details.
Like the fact that the footage was expertly edited together as of from a reality TV show with a confessional booth.
Instead of being engrossed in a story about dinosaurs walking the Earth again and nearly going extinct, I was too busy wondering who decided to edit together Pratt’s training footage so that someone could one day watch it as an exposition dump.
There are lots of little moments like this throughout the movie, where I was left wondering why certain things were happening.
Another issue with Fallen Kingdom is that it had a bit of a tone problem.
At one point, there are action-adventure scenes with characters escaping from an exploding volcano. Then there are times where the film seems almost unreasonably dark, with one character getting pretty graphically ripped apart on-screen. Then there were also moments of loss and other sad parts that seemed in-place only to push an environmental message.
Then there are scenes with characters evading one another that feel eerily like Looney Toons. Notably one with one character following closely behind another without noticing them.
It’s almost too silly for a movie that’s trying as hard as it is to be darker and edgier than the first. Because I’ll be blunt, the villain in Fallen Kingdom is kind of an unforgivable monster of a human being, almost cartoonishly so.
His plan is equally as cartoonishly evil, playing with themes of illegal animal trapping, trafficking and using genetics for unethical purposes.
Yet the filmmakers don’t seem to fully commit to the dark tone that otherwise could have made for a stellar overall package — even if it could scare away a certain sect of audience members.
While this review is mostly negative thus far, I will say the end of the movie is actually far better than the first two-thirds. Most of the darker stuff comes in here, and discounting a ridiculous twist in the last few minutes, everything is more engaging and tense.
On top of that, I would argue that the movie’s CGI and a lot of its cinematography is actually really well done.
There were no moments I can recall where seeing a dinosaur on-screen took me out of a moment because it looked fake. In fact, the Indoraptor creates to serve as a more environmental antagonist, is used really well in a number of scenes with lighting contrast.
Yet for as pretty and clearly well-made as the movie is, the tonal issues and a general inability to suspend my disbelief unfortunately took me out of most scenes.
Fallen Kingdom is a hard movie to place.
I wouldn’t say it’s a kid’s film because a lot of it is dark and violent.
Yet it doesn’t fully commit to that dark tone until the very end, which makes it hard to recommend as a serious take on the Jurassic Park formula — probably the darkest since the original.
It’s a confused film that seems to be trying harder to push some kind of deeper message about either scientific caution or the importance of family than it is being a fun dinosaur flick. A lot of it is actually kind of unpleasant.
But it is a pretty film, and fits into an overall story we’ve been following for a long time now. So I suppose if those kinds of things catch your interest, you can watch it on those merits.
Otherwise, it might not be worth the time. I certainly don’t think I’d go back and rewatch it anytime soon.
Also, don’t be fooled by its advertising. Jeff Goldblum barely has a role in the movie.
Ever since my dad shifted careers to start working for the movie ticket broker Fandango, we’ve had the chance to enjoy a number of benefits.
Up to this point those benefits have been rather specifically movie ticket related (for obvious reasons). However, today we got to take advantage of benefits related to the company’s attachment with NBC Universal:
That’s right, we went to Universal Studios, y’all.
I had a blast spending the day with my family — pictured above in the featured image if it wasn’t clear to everyone — and just wanted to take a little bit of time to debrief myself from the trip and publish a couple of the pictures. Who knows, maybe that can serve an auxiliary purpose of showing some people the theme park/studio lot who can’t get there.
He says as if there aren’t plenty of outlets for that already.
But I digress. The day began, funnily enough, with work. I still work with the Gladeo League, and every two weeks (more or less) we have meetings over Google Hangouts. Naturally I forgot that today was the day I had a meeting at the same time as we needed to drive up.
Luckily it took plenty of time to get up to Universal.
Check out that fancy map
I would like to take this chance to apologize to Michelle and everyone else again for having to deal with my jostling around in the car during our meeting. If any of you happen to be reading this.
That said, even if you guys are reading this, I’m sure neither you nor the rest of the audience is interested in the logistics of driving to a theme park.
It’s all about the parking, after all.
Yeah we parked in the Frankenstein Lot. Also yeah, I got my sister to pose like everyone’s favorite amalgamate Universal monster. Also also yeah, my dad photobombed the picture.
But do I care?
Nah. It’s a great shot.
But hey, let’s jump into the park shall we?
Just kidding, got you! First I wanted to talk about this.
Look at these trees with me. These are trees outfitted with mist sprinklers. Sprinkler trees. I don’t know who came up with this idea or where they are now, but wherever they may be they should be happy I’m not there. Because I’m not sure whether to smack them for being so silly or hug them for being a genius.
It’s just so perfectly weird in all the best ways. I’m still trying to sort through my thoughts and we caught these walking into the park at 10 a.m. or so.
Okay. Now let’s get into the park. Seriously this time.
The first thing we did was wander the length of the main level to check out the different facets made available to us. Eventually we settled on the Studio Tour as our first stop.
Not included in my photo slideshow above is the interactive portions of the Tour, most notably.
The ‘ride,’ if you’re interested in calling it such, features two 3D virtual experiences. They both took place inside dark rooms with imposingly large screens surrounding the trams, which sat on rocking bases to simulate motion. One was based on King Kong and the other was based on Fast and the Furious.
There were also a number of examples of soundstage tricks throughout the time strolling around the studio lot, all capped off with a fun, snarky tour guide. Who started off the journey making fake airhorn noises.
Also in case you were curious, the Fast and the Furious portion of the Tour was just as ridiculous as the movies. Somehow they managed to pack two-and-a-half hours worth of insanity into about five minutes. Great stuff, honestly.
After finishing the Studio Tour, we moved over to check out the Simpsons region of the park.
Welcome to Springfield, population… A lot.
“Closed until Disco comes back.”
Playing carnival games!
Winning three-eyed fish off of carnival games! Also a blue monkey.
The wait for the Simpson’s Ride was a little rich for our blood, so we decided to go straight from there to the Lower Lot.
I didn’t get a picture of the escalators down, but there were seriously at least seven. The lot is built into a crazy steep mountain.
At the bottom there are a few rides, but Aly and I did not tackle the Jurassic Park ride specifically. A few years ago I took the literal plunge with my dad when we weren’t expecting what it entailed, and the picture that was taken of us that day still graces out living room.
But that’s a story for another day.
Today our time in the Lower Lot consisted of two rides: Transformers and the Mummy.
The Transformers ride was okay, though I frankly don’t have much to say about it. It was a 3D experience similar to the two portions of the Studio Tour I described, except moving around rather than being stuck on a single panel.
It did manage to be just as ridiculous as the Fast and the Furious portion of that Tour, however. Though that is a given considering it was based on a Michael Bay experience.
I think my tweet from that time sums up my thoughts pretty succinctly.
Somehow the ride incorporated that mentality while also containing an arc where Optimus Prime died, then came back to help save the day. All within the span of about five minutes. Good stuff.
From there we moved into the Mummy, where a lot of the fun came from the lead-in. Mostly watching Aly freak out as we got closer to the front.
Here she is stealing a book.
Gotta love the magic of subtitles.
The ride itself actually wound up being way more intense than either of us expected. It accelerated ridiculously quickly — but of course the park planned things specifically to take photos right when those G-forces hit.
As a result, we got this gem.
I thought very hard about using this for the featured image.
But if I did, I wouldn’t be able to zoom in like this:
Talk about 100 percent pure magic.
After finishing in the Lower Lot, we moved up into the place my family was looking forward to most:
I jest of course, but we really were excited for the Harry Potter stuff.
There were a couple of awesome things about this part of the park specifically. First and foremost, Butterbeer:
That stuff is real good. Enough said.
Then of course, the wands:
My dad’s job includes a discount at all the stores in the park, so we were all able to get wands of our own. Personally, I snagged a Luna Lovegood wand because of how beautiful a shape it takes:
It looks like a broom or an arrow, and it’s great. I also managed to get the last Snitch keychain on the rack and it’s just as beautiful. I’ll have to figure out what to do with it, since I’m not sure I want to actually stick it on my keys. Looks fragile, man.
My dad also got one of the special wands that interacted with parts of the park and he looked real cute walking around waving it at things.
But anyway, the other great thing about Harry Potter was the fact that my friend Tiana just so happened to be coming to the park today as well, so we met up there and jumped on the big attraction.
Honestly the line going into the ride was the best part. It had so many amazing facets to explore that were all recognizable rooms from the movie.
The ride itself was just okay, though. Fun but a little overwhelming when it rolls you totally upside down as your feet hang free.
I tapered off on photos around this part of the day. My phone had trickled down into single-digit percentages so I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities to keep it alive. Basically we ate at Mel’s Diner, I had an obscenely complicated trip around the park attempting to find a bathroom and we wound up over at the Minion’s Ride. Based, of course, on Illumination’s Despicable Me.
I’ll be honest, that ride was probably the worst part of the day. It was cute, but very impersonal compared to the way a lot of the other rides were presented.
Also it reminded me a little too much of the mobile game my sister messed around with a few years back, honestly.
On the way out we hit a couple of stores.
Welcome… To the photo I forgot earlier.
Aly being her dorky 50’s obsessed self.
The globe store.
Aly being a dork x2.
Also here’s something we found in one of the stores that will stare into your soul for the next few nights.
From there we left the park, took that neat-o picture I used for my post’s featured image out by the big globe and went over to City Walk so Aly could drag us to Voodoo Donuts.
That, in a not-so-concise nutshell, was my day at Universal Studios. From there we drove home, where I got in some more Don’t Starve on the oh-so-convenient Nintendo Switch:
Don’t think I have too much more to say without things getting weirdly meta and self-contemplative, so I’m going to leave off where I started. I had a great day with my family and I can’t wait to see where we wind up next.
I have an unexpected two-for-one deal for everyone in the audience today.
That’s right, one newspaper, two Jason-branded stories. Deal of the century folks, I can tell you that much now!
… Okay, so I guess that’s not really a novel situation for me to be in all things considered, but it really did come up at the last-minute in today’s case. See, it all began with an unfortunate bit of timing.
Though it wasn’t exactly ‘unfortunate’ for me necessarily. But I’m overly qualifying each statement at this point so I’ll stop fooling around.
Last Friday, my family had plans to go see the new Steven Spielberg film “Ready Player One.” We all absolutely loved the book, so it has been on our list of things to do together pretty much since the film was first announced. Our tickets were purchased well in advance…
But then my Dad got stuck with work at the last-minute. Since he couldn’t go, my sister and Mom didn’t want to go either. The only issue with that was I had already promised our Lifestyle editor Hannah a review of the film. Plus we had four tickets already bought.
So I did the next best thing and brought my friends to a free movie.
As much as I wound up being disappointed that I couldn’t gush about how much I liked the movie with my family that night, it was a pretty dope day hanging out with my friends, playing video games and seeing a movie.
Also, as I just mentioned, I really liked “Ready Player One.” It’s not exactly a heavily story-driven film by any means, and the actors aren’t anything to write home about… But visually the film is just gorgeous, especially for the way it diversified each world the heroes travel between.
Plus, despite not exactly being super accurate to the book, the different take on Cline’s overall framework is pretty cool in its own right, so I’d argue the movie is a perfect companion to the book rather than being a replacement for it.
Sort of like the characters going through similar situations, but in alternate universes. That’s the best way I can think to put it.
I obviously don’t want to play all my cards here and not direct you right to the review, so you can see my thoughts on the film through this link here. All I’ll add at this point is that I highly recommend seeing it just for an enjoyably pretty moviegoing experience.
Especially with the Stanley Kubrick scene in the middle of the film that just continues to blow my mind with how gorgeous it was.
However, as promised, I still have more to go into.
See my first day back from Spring Break in the newsroom was a busy one. I was essentially juggling five different things all at the same time.
Not only was I fact checking and section editing stories as usual, I was also helping to set everything up for my movie review, transcribing out a 47-minute-long interview for a profile I’m working on (more to come on that soon enough), studying for two exams I have this week and working on a completely different story I was thrown at the last-minute.
Over the break, a 19-year-old man who does not attend CSUF was visiting some friends in the University House apartments near campus. At some point, for one reason or another, he fell off the third floor balcony and was hospitalized in a “critical” but not “life threatening” condition.
Even though the event happened early on into the break, our advisor wanted us to do some sort of follow-up. That responsibility went to me.
I tried to get in touch with our University Police department, but they were not involved in the case and directed me to Fullerton Police.
So I called Fullerton Police and had to cycle through multiple different departments, likely because people were off thanks to Easter. Eventually I did manage to get in touch with Sergeant Dan Castillo, who gave me some real basic information but directed me to the officer who was a watch commander that night.
A few hours later, when Lieutenant Michael Chlebowski was in the office, I called back and talked with him for some more specific details about the case and why the Fullerton Police won’t be following up on it.
It was an easy 300 words to write, and even then my editors cut it down quite a bit from the looks of the final piece, but I can’t really complain. With Comm 471, easy points are easy points.
If you want to read that story in its entirety, check it out here.
You can also see my full archive of writing for the Daily Titan over on the right!
Editor’s Note: For anyone who may be confused seeing this style of review show up here, let me explain. This article was one I had originally written for the Daily Titan’s first spring 2018 issue. Though the movie had its official wide release on Jan. 12 and we find ourselves in the midst of Oscar season, it was decided a review of this particular flick wouldn’t be timely enough to go in print by the time we hit production.
But of course, as luck would have it, I had finished writing the article before finding out it wasn’t running.
So I decided to cannibalize my own work and put it out on my personal blog with some additional bits added on. After all, what would be the point of having a blog for my writing if I didn’t do that sort of thing, and what better time is there to share something like this than the day Oscar nominations have been announced? It is a best picture nominee after all, amongst other things.
Plus I figured this movie in particular fit the theme of my blog given that it surrounds an important part of journalism history.
That said, I’ll stop blabbing and let you get to my opinions. If you enjoy this sort of thing let me know, since I have been considering doing this kind of personal publishing more often.
In 1971, a series of classified documents known as The Pentagon Papers were leaked to and published by The New York Times, revealing multiple presidential opinions on the futility of the Vietnam War despite its escalation.
When the government attempted to censor this sensitive information publishing, other papers like The Washington Post stepped in to continue the job.
Steven Spielberg’s latest movie “The Post” captures this important period in American and journalistic history that brought The Washington Post to mainstream popularity while offering viewers a more intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse at the paper’s struggle with deciding whether or not to publish The Pentagon Papers.
This struggle is chiefly characterized by the film’s two lead characters, The Washington Post’s publisher Katherine “Kay” Graham (Meryl Streep) and editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks).
Throughout the movie Graham must come to terms with being the first female publisher of a major newspaper after she inherits the business from her deceased husband.
Her inner turmoil comes from having to make the decision to potentially betray old family friends in the White House’s previous administrations so the public can learn the truth, while subsequently dealing with the “boy’s club” of publishers and investors who don’t believe a woman has what it takes to handle the job.
Meanwhile, Bradlee has to deal with the humiliation of losing such a huge scoop to The New York Times despite being the editor of Washington D.C.’s local paper, as well as the immense amount of work it takes for his team to secure a copy of the documents and go to print in a limited timeframe.
Eventually Bradlee also must come to terms with the fact that the potential illegality of publishing classified government documents may backfire on his longtime ally and friend Graham, who has much more at stake and much more to lose.
One of the standout means of building tension in the film comes from the way it showcases the more limited technologies available in the 1970s that led to more of an involved newsprint production process.
For example, one scene that comes to mind has a copy editor asked to do all of his red pen corrections on a physical printout of the major article in 30 minutes before sending it off in a pneumatic tube to be laid out on a more traditional printing press.
However, Hank’s performance is clearly overshadowed by Streep, who does an incredible job capturing the internal debate and eventual paradigm shift of Graham to support her staff and the First Amendment in spite of what the government would prefer.
Her arc is also given some clear signposts throughout the movie to show her role as a historically significant feminine figure, which Streep nails in facial expressions alone in scenes like her emergence from the Supreme Court toward the end of the story. In that moment she seems to ignore the primarily male-dominated crowd of journalists to instead focus on the passing businesswomen who have stopped to watch the commotion.
Unfortunately, performances are really the only place that “The Post” stands out. Despite having the legendary team of Spielberg as director and John Williams as composer, nothing about the presentation is necessarily exceptional.
The movie looks nice and sounds nice, is well-cast and well-written, but one would be hard pressed to walk out of the theatre after watching it and remember a particular image or score from the experience as something special that stays with them.
Even with this caveat, the performances and socio-historical importance backing up the movie make it undoubtedly worth seeing.
In an era begot by cries of “fake news” and the divisive presidency of Donald Trump, it is especially important to see this story come to the table in such a high-profile form to remind the world about the importance both of newspapers as a government watchdog and of the public staying informed with a higher degree of news literacy.
On top of that, “The Post” also fits in wonderfully with the strong legacy of journalism-based films.
Because of the way Spielberg uses the same Washington Post office set piece and ends the movie on a sort of cliffhanger teasing the start of the Watergate scandal, “The Post” and “All the President’s Men” could literally be watched in seamless succession to give anyone who did or did not live through the 1970s a clear understanding of the importance of newspapers, particularly The Washington Post, in American history.
Somehow the historical side of my blog for my Honors World Civilizations course has almost become more of a platform for me to talk about films. In the first two posts I did (Post 1 and 2), I talked about Chantal Akerman’s documentaries in various degrees around the times that I watched them.
So, I figure why not take this last post for the class to talk about the relationship between movies and history as a whole?
The way history is depicted in media often has a large impact on how that history is addressed and thought about in our everyday lives. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is generally debatable.
The fact that events in our past are recorded and repeated through films and TV programs is a great reflection that we as a species are continuing the legacy of those involved in various historical periods and moment. As one of my favorite clichéd phrases goes, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” If stories from, say, the Holocaust are consistently depicted in films, we’re more likely to keep the Holocaust in our collective consciousness as a reminder that we can’t let it happen again.
In his book Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to our Idea of History, Robert Rosenstone talks about film as a tool which can alter our perception of history by saying, “In privileging visual and emotional data and simultaneously downplaying the analytic, the motion picture is subtly […] altering our very sense of the past.” (32) Rosenstone ponders the differences between written and visual representations of history, wondering whether or not film can hold the same weight as history books or novelizations of events.
In this same vein, there are questions beyond the general strength of film as a medium. Are films accurate in their approach to dramatizing history? What additional issues can we cultivate in portraying historical recreations? Yes, it’s great that movies like Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” help to draw large-scale attention to the Holocaust so we can remember it. However, to what extent is it irresponsible to make those who watch the film believe that Schindler was the same man who trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is also the same man who saved his family with “a particular set of skills”?
There are other potential issues with how we depict historical moments in our filmography beyond this name or face association. Of course, I’m referring specifically to entertainment, fictionalized or blockbuster films and shows rather than documentaries. There’s a very common complaint that Hollywood is too “whitewashed”, hiring caucasian actors in roles which are better suited for or meant to be people of color. There’s also the possibility that the very desire to create a film, which by convention tends to be restricted in view time and the perspectives shown on-screen at a time, results in certain editing or removal of pieces from a history.
Now, whether or not I’m qualified to judge if a movie is historically accurate is a different story entirely. I’m not planning on tearing apart or championing any particular film for how it addresses the history it desires to address. I just figure this is a good place to talk about why I believe it’s important to try to be as accurate as possible when showcasing history in a film.
Part of why I say I’m not necessarily qualified to judge historical accuracy is because I’m not a history major. I enjoy learning about history, but I’m not an expert in any time period by any means. One of the ways I enjoy learning about history is through movies, as it’s much easier to understand or appreciate something that happened when it’s shown in a recognizable way.
Gillo Pontecorvo‘s 1966 film “The Battle of Algiers” is an excellent example of this. I knew next to nothing about the Algerian War for Independance before watching that movie. The struggle between the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the French Government, the escalating animosity of the two parties from the means of warfare that was used, the large-scale bombings and attacks that devastated the common people, the use of women and their perceived gender roles to sneak things through French boundaries… All of these ideas and more were represented in the film, and therefore all of them were things I learned about the Battle of Algiers from watching it.
Wars and revolutions as a whole are complex, that’s a given just in the nature of building up to such events. It’s hard to totally understand everything that happens to both parties that physically and psychologically drives them to any sort of conflict.
That’s where I think “The Battle of Algiers” succeeds. In my opinion, it teaches the history of an event that seems a little less well-known in a way that you get an idea of how both sides are thinking and responding to things throughout the film. As far as I’m aware, the movie does a great job of teaching someone who knows nothing about the Algerian War (like me, as I’ve said) what they need to know to understand the struggle.
Bear in mind, filmmakers take creative liberties in their art, and what you see in film isn’t always exactly what transpired in history. To some extent, it’s realistically impossible to recreate history exactly as it happened. For an audience, there should be a balance between suspending your disbelief when you go to a movie and understanding that life is too complex to represent in an hour and a half to a two-hour celluloid format. For a filmmaker, there’s nothing wrong with taking creative liberties or trying to show history in an entertaining way, but we should keep in mind that the movie being created could become someone’s only connection to that period of history.