Historical Movies

Nataly Azcatl


The Boy In Striped Pajamas. Directed by Mark Herman, MiraMax Films, BCC Films, 2008.


         “The Boy In Striped Pajamas” directed by Mark Herman re-creates the setting of the halocaust, a young boy, Bruno, who’s father is in charge of a concentration camp not to far from their home, explores through the woods and finds a young Jewish boy, Shumel, his age inside the camp. They become friends and Bruno finds out more about the camp as days continue of him visiting the Jewish boy on the other side of a wired fence. This film’s audience is directed to anyone, except those who are unable to view any violence throughout the movie. Although it’s a more serious film, it appeals to many people because it happened, the environment in the movie did happen and the series of cruel events towards Jewish people back then were true. The director tries to put the audience in the perspective of Bruno, throughout the movie you see the confusion of the boy believing that all of the Jews in the camp are farmers, he finds Shumel in the “striped pajamas” and notices his hunger and lack of personal hygiene he’s displaying. He notices all the anti-Semitic propaganda from his family and others when he isn’t by the camp. Towards the end of the movie, the director tries to persuade the audience to feel and act a certain way about this event, when Bruno says to Shumel “We’re not supposed to be friends, you and me. We’re supposed to be enemies. Did you know that?”, you notice the innocence involved with the social expectations in the time and place. Bruno decides to cut the fence and join Shumel inside the camp, still unaware of the horrors waiting for him, they enter the camp not knowing they are headed into a gas chamber, Bruno telling Shumel right before their lives are being taken that he was his best friend. 


12 Years A Slave. Directed by Steve McQueen, Film4 Productions, 2013.


        “12 years a Slave” was first made as an 1853 memoir written by American Solomon Northup who was born in the North identified as free but kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South before the Civil War. The director, Steve McQueen, read the book and wanted to adapt it into a film, he wanted to teach more about what slavery was and the impact it had, not only on one person but the hundreds of people that weren’t even identified as people because of their color. This serious film touches the audience’s heart because of this particular man’s story, the environment, setting and time period he had to live through shows inhumane ways people lived their lives. Through the movie, Solomon is beaten, chained, stripped down and forced to work for white people in their plantations, he is put through all those gruesome experiences but he never lost hope in finding his family again. The director tries to demonstrate how Afterican Americans were treated, how it affected their lives and how it was part of American history, he also demonstrates the mental impact of those people and it captures the audience’s attention because it did happen and it was a way of living back then. Some scenes become explicit and the director wants that in the film to get a reaction from the audience, an example in the movie was when an owner decided to punish one of the slaves he owned but he chose Solomon to whip one of them which he considered his friend, you then see how cruel and inhumane things were back then and it definitely catches the audience’s attention to see the history that actually happened and that it shouldn’t be forgotten.


Dunkirk. Directed by Christopher Nolan, Syncopy Inc. 2017


        “Dunkirk” directed by Christopher Nolan is taken place during World War II in France. Germany was able to trap Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk troops slowly and methodically try to evacuate with all the resources they can find during the massive operation involving vessels became a turning point for the Allied War effort. This particular movie is known as a silent film and is noticed by its lack of dialogue, the director tries to put the audience in the scenes. In a specific scene, hundreds of soldiers are in a naval ship believing they are going home, however the ship was bombed and you see how it goes down very quickly and the director wants to portray how it would be like to be trapped in that small space with hundreds of other soldiers and once the ships goes down its pitch black. It shows the fears that someone would have with the little amount of time to think or react, the audience can really get a full visual of what war did look it, in its horrible state, many soldiers were close to death and the audience can feel that while watching. Throughout American History, there have been many wars that lasted years with battles in between, any audience has the knowledge already for what war was like, but film directors try to take into a visual effect and show you instead of an audience imagining what it would be like. 


Lincoln. Directed by Steven Spielberg, 20th Century Fox, 2012


          “Lincoln” directed by Steven Spielberg takes time during Lincoln’s presidency and portrays the time of the civil war. During his time, it was considered historical because of his struggles to end the war and abolish slavery to pass the 13th Amendment by the House of Representatives in 1865. This film is about politics and the world’s greatest democracy and it shows the audience how the government was run before. Throughout the movie, you get to understand more of Lincoln’s personal life and what his goals for the nation was. Lincoln was one of the most recognized presidents because of what he was able to accomplish and the director wanted the audience to see that, in the film you see all the complications he had to go through and you see his ambitions for the country and what it would mean to pass the 13th amendment. Although, there have been other presidents that have done significant things in their time, Lincoln was a president that cared deeply about the nation and wanted to show everyone else what the nation was built on and what it was attended for and how peace is what the nation needs to become the greatest. The director tries to capture this time period and turn it into film for the intention of the audience to see why this specific historical was important and how it helped form the nation that we live in today. 


The Book Thief. Directed by Brian Percival. Fox 2000 Pictures, 2013.


           “The Book Thief” directed by Brain Percival, is during the time period of World War II in Germany but actually focuses more on the impact of the civilians in a neighborhood near a war zone, instead of the soldiers fighting in the war. A little girl, Liesel, is welcomed home to her new foster parents, Hans and Rosa. Hans notices that she is unable to read and that she is almost ten years old, he then tries to help her with that and also acknowledge her about what is happening, since it was the Nazi Era, he explains to her what she should and shouldn’t do to stay out of the trouble and be careful with her surroundings while she walks to school and also has to be taught emergency procedures, such as hiding in an underground bunker, because of the war that was close by them. One day out of the ordinary, Hans brings home a young man to the house and Liesel notices how Hans makes him stay in a room, out of sight. She soon realizes that he is a Jewish man and that if anyone where to found out he was there, everyone would be in trouble. The director tries to show the audience what is was like for parents to teach their teach children about what was happening around them in that time period which is obviously completely different from now. Children back then had trouble learning and it affected them at an age where they should have already known, you notice in the film how innocence is taken away from the children because they must be aware of what’s happening and how life for them in a time of war is completely different from children now, where there is no war and children go to school at a young age and get the education they need. Not only for children but for everyone else too, there were many social rules because it was the Nazi Era and soldiers would be able to come in and search into people’s homes if they wanted to, people were scared to be approached by them and it really effected how people had to act and to the audience watching this film, you get an understanding how different circumstances can effect people. The director tries to open people’s minds to how society was back then and anywhere across the world.


Selma. Directed by Ava DuVernay. Paramount Pictures, 2015


         “Selma” directed by Ava DuVernay, is based on true events of Martin Lucther King Jr. forming a political march which led to a significant event in the American Civil Rights movement and helped pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the south, discrimation made it hard for African Americans to vote, a match was made in protest for President Lyndon Johnson to sign the act. On March 7, 1965, Martin Luther King leds thousands of people in a non violent protest from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, which happened to be 5 days and was known as a 54 mile walk. In the film, you are witnessing what the match was like for these people and what setbacks had happened to them, such as when crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the March was stopped by a blockade of state troopers, they were told to stop the march and when the people refused, they fought back with clubs and tear gas. King then began announcing help on telegrams to reach out to all religious leaders in joining the peaceful protest they wanted. There was so much that happened during this time, it was a big historical event because of the number of people that joined it and the number of people that had been sacrificed to get the act to be passed. The director tries to show the audience that it’s not just about the problem that African Americans had, but the injustice of the law and that it was affecting what the nation was supposed to be. Many directors try to re visit events like this that have affected a lot of people at the time and show people about the past and what it would feel like to be in an event that was important to history. A great way to obtain historical knowledge is throw film representation, it can show the audience the success, mistakes and failures made in the past that can help create a better society. 

3 thoughts on “Historical Movies”

  1. Great genre you picked! I like that you go in-depth on what the director wants to focus on the very impactful events that they picked, for example, the Holocaust. I feel like there can be more to be found in the specific stories other than their historical background, but what is the message that given putting aside its historical background, for example, when the children in the camp weren’t in the chamber but were outside playing on the campgrounds, would Bruno still say that Shmuel is his best friend? Do you think if a change of the setting, or the change of the characters time and place, would still have the same ending/effect?

  2. I absolutely love this genre you chose, I have watched a couple of movies you mentioned such as
    “12 Years A Slave” and “The Boy with The Striped Pijamas” which were very informative about the time periods that were based on that particular movie. However, I feel like there could be an addition of how the audience reacted towards the film, maybe a sentence about what someone said about it but overall great job.

  3. I like movies you picked. Especially “The Boy In Striped Pajamas” because it reminds me of my favorite movie “Life is beautiful”. One suggestion that you can strengthen your annotated bibliography is to mention more than one quote from each movie. It will give audience better understanding.

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