Film and Knowledge: Essays on the Integration of Images and Ideas (review)
- Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies
- Center for the Study of Film and History
- Volume 33, Number 1, 2003
- pp. 76-77
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Book Reviews | Regular Feature with lunch and picture-taking—resembles a Disneyland outing rather than an inconclusive Civil War conflagration. Other occurrences shared the same fate. The woeful 1850 frontal assault by the Light Brigade was originally viewed not as a calamity but, rather, a reiteration of British self-sacrifice for God, Country, and King only to be excoriated, 100 years later, as the epitome of blind stupidity, inflicted from the top down. Over in Texas, an identical story befell the 1836 loss of the Alamo, another defeat that took on new meaning during the Cold War. This time the Soviet menace replaced the Mexican army. Similarly the July 1863 FortWagner attackbyAfrican-American Union troops was repackaged for the Civil Rights straggle during the late twentieth century. And why is it that American schoolchildren extensively study Custer's Last Stand—known as the Battle of Little Big Horn—but have never heard of the Fetterman massacre , which was a similar Plains Indian victory? Beginning with medieval knighthood, Dr. Adams takes a hard look at the battles of Hastings, Agincourt, and Bosworfh offering explanations why the ideals of chivalry exercise a fascination for modern audiences even though this institution peaked around 1500 after gunpowder changed the logistics of warfare. What followed was the establishment of militias where the ordinary soldier—once viewed as society's outcast and disparaged as a waster, a potential rapist or murderer—was transmogrified into a model of honorable duty, a public servant who put the common good above person, profit, or well-being. Even the U.S. cavalry, noted for its brutal reprisals against Native Americans, emerged as heroic defenders of the Republic while Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, men whose drinking, whoring, and filthy hygiene seemed rampant, were expunged for a 1997 television movie that depicted these soldiers as paradigms ofvirtue, warriors who glibly recite the Agincourt passage from Shakespeare's Henry V. Twentieth-Century strife was similar. Months afterthe Great War subsided, British poets described their countrymen as happy warriors who marched like kings in a pageant to their imminent death. And in 1927, when the American Legion sponsored a reunion in France, the entire event, according to a participant, was replete with holiday gaiety that resembled a carnival. Years later, Norman Mailer fended off critics who called his 1948 account of the South Pacific fighting emotionally perverted because this WorldWar II blockbusternovel did not reinforce popular conceptions of adventure and heroism, but instead depicted U.S. officers as inept, nasty and, in the case of one general, fascist. Certainly, Dr. Adams is no stranger to the pervasive influence that media holds in kneading public awareness. His 1994 Second World War study, The Best War Ever depicted memory— the most common tool in the layman's experience—as a distorted vision that eventually takes basic historical information and grinds it down into a misleading legacy. Now, Echoes ofWar expands this theme and attacks the notion that conflict is frequently packaged , in miniseries format, to provide popular escapist entertainment. Unquestionably this recent book blasts away at the many myths associated with hostilities and explainsAmerica's obsession with heroic achievements. Maybe Major DeLucca, sitting wistfully pondering another cloak and dagger mission, will have a chance to read it before he heads out—with a small black bag in his hand—for bigger and more daring adventures. Robert Fyne Kean University RJFyne@aol.com Kevin L Stoehr, editor. Film and Knowledge: Essays on the integration ofimages and ideas. McFarland, 2002. 239 pages; $39.95. Three Brands This collection of essays is like one of those plush department stores, all mahogany and mirrors, which turn up in the novels of H.G. Wells and Arnold Bennett. The Epistemology Emporium (sole proprietor Kevin L. Stoehr, Boston University) is a quality outfit dedicated to the idea that the textual complexity of cinema makes it an ideal medium for examining fundamental questions about the nature ofknowledge, perception and self. By engaging with a film, Stoehr argues in his introduction, "we can think about thinking and discuss ideas about ideas." Those italics indicate the high seriousness of the enterprise. The customer can choose from a wide range of philosophical products. There are...