ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Films as Historical Sources or Alternative History

The time has come to seriously examine the approach of historians to cinema in general and the historical film in particular. Since history itself has proved to be a dynamic discipline, the habit of viewing films with an eye to 'facticity' should give way to a nuanced understanding of the historical potential of cinema. This paper argues for a new relationship between visual and written history in the interest of both public memory and a socially relevant history. If historians want to bridge the widening chasm between public and academic histories they have no choice but to take relatively new forms of knowledge like film seriously. On the other hand, film-makers cannot, and should not, ignore the context of literacy informing their work. Given the will and ample opportunity to collaborate, historians and film-makers, operating in a heterogeneous field of post-literacy, literacy and pre-literacy, can learn a lot from each other.

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