Based·on a True Story?: A Historiophotical Analysis of Hollywood and Documentary Films
When I first began this project, I was interested in how history is portrayed through film and the impact it has on the average person's perception of historical events. How much of the public's understanding of the past is created by film? What kind of historical"truth" can one find in a Hollywood film compared to a documentary? How can films manipulate history for alternative purposes? Through my research in academic monographs, live video interviews and film analysis, I found that many of the dangers and problems inherent in attempting to portray history through film, whether in dramatic narratives or documentaries, are more complex than I originally envisioned. While many films and TV shows are explicitly fictitious and claim no connection to a historical event, many others problematically claim a direct connection and portrayal of the historical subject matter in an "objective" manner. The latter have provoked further discussion and controversy among historians and filmmakers. With the Hollywood marketing ploy of "Based on a True Story" and a widely held assumption of objective truth in documentaries by the public, there is danger in "rewriting history."1 Furthermore, in the academic world, there is much cynicism, frustration and anger targeted at films portraying historical events that academics have intimate knowledge of.