History on Film: Fact vs. Fiction

We have the historical novel and history paintings. We also have the historical film. This course explores narrative fiction film (not documentaries) as a way of understanding history. Are there aspects of history that film can help us to appreciate that other approaches to history cannot? Which films render history accurately or insightfully, and which do not? We will examine eight films in eight weeks, covering history from around the world from ancient times to the 20th century, from blockbusters to low-budget independent films from several countries. Did Cecil B. DeMille get it right? Did Roberto Rossellini? And what does it mean to "get it right"? Examples of films include Hollywood blockbusters like Ben-Hur t o Roberto Rossellini’s The Taking of Power by Louis XIV and Akiwa Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai , as well as serious Westerns like Howard Hawk’s Red River (the final film list may change based on availability). Students will watch the films on their own and then meet online for lively discussions. Questions? Contact us at The Center for Applied Liberal Arts (CALA). Email sps.cala@nyu.edu or call 212-998-7289.

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You'll Walk Away with

  • A familiarity with critically acclaimed historical films by famous filmmakers
  • Increased knowledge about significant historical events and eras
  • An new appreciation for how films contribute to our understanding of history

Ideal for

  • Film enthusiasts
  • All members of the community– working, retired, and in between
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.