A Self-Contained Project for Using Film in History Courses
- Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies
- Center for the Study of Film and History
- Volume 15, Number 1, February 1985
- pp. 11-13
- Additional Information
to what footage ofthe camps was new and what was archival. Another war documentary, Rossif s To Die in Madrid, was weakened by a failure to make that distinction, according to William Johnson. "Coming to Terms with Color,, in Lewis Jacobs, ed., The Movies as Medium (New York, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1970.) p. 232. 20This and the following quotations are from Roy Armes, idem. 21The Plaque, tr. Stuart Gilbert (New York, Alfred A. Knopf), p. 278 22lnsdorf s translation in her, Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust, p. 32 23Author s interview with Alain Resnais, New York City, November 2, 1984. 24Quoted in Alistair Home, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 (New York, Viking Press, 1977), p. 124. 25See, for example, "Memories of War Haunt, and Divide, the French, " The New York Times, November 3, 1984. 26Resnais in L Avant-Scene du Cinema 6 1 -62 (juillet-septembre 1966), p. 9 27James Monaco, Alain Resnais (New York, Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 22 28New York City, November 2, 1984. 29February 13, 1985 30In Robert Hughes, ed., Fünr.Book 2. p. 189 31Ibid., p. 7 32For a scholarly review and refutation of some ofthe key points raised by the "revisionists", see Serge Klarsfeld, ed., The Holocaust and the Neo-Nazi Mythomania (New York, Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1978), particularly the articles by Joseph Billig and George Wellers. A Self-Contained Project for Using Film in History Courses By Mariette Rebhorn Mariette Rebhorn teaches histoiy at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas, where she has designed and implemented thefilm and histoiy curriculum materials discussed in this article. For those historians who will accept the use of film as a viable part of enriching courses in history, there is still a debate. It focuses on what film materials to use and how 11 to use them. At the community college with which I am associated, we have had great success with a system in which students view feature length Hollywood films, read an accompanying essay, and then perform various pre-arranged projects which relate events in the film to actual historical phenomena. The process begins with the student viewing a Hollywood feature film (on vidéocassette) ranging from classics such as The Birth of a Nation and City Lights, to more recent films such as The Deer Hunter and Ragtime. Complete lists of films are currently available for both halves ofthe Western Civilization course and the second half of the American History survey. Students then read a provocative essay which relates events in the film to actual historical developments. These essays critique the information presented in the film as well as providing some ofthe historical context the film left out, and relate the film action to other historical periods. The student then chooses from a list ofpossible pre-packaged projects, and after consulting with the course instructor, decides which project to work on and how much it will "count" toward his grade. The projects include writing reports on books from a selected bibliography, comparing and contrasting such books, and doing further research on events portrayed in the film. Ifthe project is completed to the instructor s satisfaction, the pre-arranged "credit" is awarded to the student. The system has many advantages. Since the films are on vidéocassette, the student can watch them at his convenience—a major plus at a community college where students have such widely different schedules. The student can also view the scenes repeatedly. Since the students see the film outside of class, no valuable class time is lost More important, because the package—the film, its accompanying essay and projects—is a self-contained unit, even instructors with no film expertise can utilize the system. Students view the film, but the instructor assigns a traditional historical project and grades it by the traditional standards he already knows. This curriculum project began with the assumption that, for better or worse, the modem student is usually more visually oriented than print oriented. The great deal of time most students spend watching movies and television has given them some skills, but without doubt, they can and should become more critical viewers. In this project, students are taught to analyze...