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Historical spaces as narrative: mapping collective memory onto cinematic space

By Andrew B. R. Elliott


The following article proposes and develops a single theory: that unlike written history which tends to privilege chronology, teleology and consequentiality, historical films have increasingly abandoned overt means of narration and instead inscribe historical meanings onto cinematic spaces in historical films. The reason for this shift, I argue, is that recent advances in historiography have begun to encourage scepticism towards the human element in reconstructing narratives. In a world bombarded with media rhetoric from all directions, persuasion from traditionally “authoritative” sources such as voiceovers, prologues, marketing material proclaiming the use of historical experts and research, individual viewpoints, eyewitness accounts, etc, all become open to criticism. In the absence of authorial authenticity, and the gradual erosion of trust in both grand narratives and individual insights, the historical film nevertheless still requires some means by which the viewer can be persuaded of its veracity through shared or collective memory, history proper and lived social experience. It is to answer this need, then, that history and historical narratives have begun to place an emphasis on historical spaces as a means to retell history by creating a “cognitive map”, which offers recourse to an intertextual “representational legacy”

Topics: P303 Film studies, V900 Others in Historical and Philosophical studies
Publisher: University of California
Year: 2013
OAI identifier:

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