Extra Credit Assignment
To earn extra credit, pick one of the movies from the following
list. Write a 1-2 page essay giving me a
summary of the movie and telling me how your chosen movie relates to the
history we have studied and what you learned from watching it. A good summary
including points of both historical accuracies and inaccuracies will earn you up
to five points on top of your final grade.
Any analysis over and above the basic may earn you extra points. Analysis over and above the basic would be,
for example, most movies made about historical subjects tell us more about what
is going on at the time they are made than it does about the historical subject
they’re portraying. Pay attention to the
dates these movies were made, points will be awarded for showing an
understanding of the historical context in which they were created. For
example, despite the fact that the first Indiana Jones movies ostensibly
portray Harrison Ford battling the Nazis, they much more accurately portray
Americans’ feelings about the Soviets and the Cold War in the 1980s, when the
original movies were made. The new
Indiana Jones, while the only one actually about the Cold War, really
shows you a lot more about how Americans think of the War on Terror and the
post-Cold War world. Points will be
given for humor and entertainment value.
Copying any portion of your essay from IMDB or any other website will
not earn you points, so don’t waste your time (and mine)!
I, Claudius (1976)
One of my favorite movies of all time, it is really a BBC miniseries, so
it’s about twelve hours long. If you
watch the whole thing, and prove to me you didn’t fall asleep in the middle,
I’ll give you double points. This movie
covers the development of the Roman empire from the point of view of the
emperor Claudius. It is completely
accurate to Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars, which means it probably isn’t
accurate historically, but it is full of all the most salacious gossip about
their emperors that a wealthy empire could come up with.
Spartacus (1960) A classic epic film, the fictionalized
account of an actual slave revolt that took place in southern Italy under the
late Roman Republic.
The Return of Martin Guerre (1982) The story of a medieval Frenchman who returns
to his home village after having been away at war for years. His friends and family suspect him of being
an impostor. More entertaining than it
sounds from this description, it is also interesting because it is a true
story, found in the French archives by a historian in the 1970s.
The Lion in Winter (1968) Yes, there is a later remake of
this movie, but watch the early one with Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of
Aquitaine and Peter O’Toole as Henry II.
This is the story of Henry’s reign in England in the High Middle Ages,
his battles with France over his territories there, and his battles with his
family, including his powerful wife and his pain-in-the-neck sons, particularly
Richard and John.
The Seventh Seal (1957) An Ingmar Bergman film about the
Black Death and its effect on European culture.
Does the film portray the ways that medieval Europeans dealt with the
plague, or really just what 1950’s culture thinks about death?
The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) Starring Charlton Heston
as Michelangelo, this is the story of the painting of the Sistine Chapel, and
the difficult relationship between Michelangelo and Pope Julius (the warrior
A Man for All Seasons (1966) The story of the last years of the life of
Thomas More, chancellor to Henry VIII.
More was a committed Catholic and was (spoiler alert!) beheaded because
he wouldn’t publicly proclaim that Henry was the rightful supreme head of the
Church of England.
Elizabeth (1998) The story of the early years of the
reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Pretty good on the politics, but as most of these movies do, it
completely invents a romantic plot line between Elizabeth and one of her
courtiers. You can also watch the
sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age if you want.
La Reine Margot (Queen Margot) This is the story of the St. Bartholomew’s
Day Massacre, told from the perspective of Margot, or Marguerite, the sister of
the king and the one who is being married off to Henry of Navarre, leader of
the Huguenots. It gives an interesting
view of the politics of early modern France as well as their religious difficulties. And, of course, some really bloody massacre
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