Publication Date

August 24, 2011



Gods and Generals reviewed by Steven E. WoodworthEach month since June, the National History Education Clearinghouse blog has been reposting reviews of “popular films, documentaries, miniseries, and other history-based features” from the Journal of American History. Below we list the movies they’ve featured, with brief quotes from the reviews. We encourage you to head over to the site and check out the full reviews and other resources they have there.

You may also be interested in our past blog post, “100 Films Reviewed by Historians,” a roundup of the movies featured in the Perspectives on History “Masters at the Movies” article series.

  • Gods and Generals, reviewed by Steven E. Woodworth
    “When they wanted to do so, the makers of Gods and Generals were accurate in both detail and nuance. Unfortunately, the filmmakers preferred to spend much of the nearly four-hour running time of the movie doing a great deal of ax-grinding. The result is the most pro-Confederate film since Birth of a Nation, a veritable celluloid celebration of slavery and treason.”
    Read the full review here.
  • The Aviator, reviewed by David Courtwright
    “The chief virtue of Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator is that it restores [Howard] Hughes to his rightful place as one of America’s great aviation visionaries. As in most biopics, messy details are simplified, and characters are conflated or altered.”
    Read the full review here.
  • Titanic, reviewed by Steven Biel
    “When a film costs and earns more than any other, when it becomes a major cultural phenomenon, we ought to be asking questions about Titanic’s historical significance rather than its accuracy. How might we explain its resonance? How might we contextualize it? How might we compare it to previous representations of the disaster? How, in short, might we really locate this movie in time?”
    Read the full review here.

What are your favorite history-based movies? Or what movies do you find to be an affront to history? Let us know in the comments.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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