Contemporary Historical Film: Problems, Trends, Features

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Zviad Dolidze


The historical fi lm always was in the center of the fi lmgoers’ wide auditorium interest because it depicts historical facts and events or life (or part of life) of any historical person. This last type of historical fi lm is called biographical films. For some scholar historical film is a separate genre, for the others
– aa sub-genre of the adventure film. In various years it was named by various titles, for example, for the Germans it was the costuming drama, for the Japanese – Jidaigeki, for the Italians – the epic drama and Peplum and so on.

From the first day of filmmaking, the historical film was in the center of the fi lmmakers because they could see an opportunity of receiving useful commercial income from it. Of course in the fi rst stage when the duration of the fi lms was 2-3 or a little more minutes, in the historical fi lms they could show only one historical fact in a shortened version. Then when the duration of the fi lms was increased the fi lmmakers had a chance to expand their stories. This circumstance, in turn, enlarged a desire of making such fi lm production.

The contemporary historical fi lm stands against many challenges. First of all, it is a search of the investments for bigbudget film projects which are not easy and has the risks because many potential investors, for fear of commercial failure, avoid putting the money in such a project. Film history remembers numerous similar cases.

Historical fi lms often violate historical reality. This situation is explained by the authors of them (or by their lobbyist critics and scholars) by exacerbation of the cinematic adaptation of any literary work or original script, or by the necessary steps making for other purposes. It contradicts the historical reality.
But it is well known that historical novels also deface reality and this misleads the reader because he thinks that everything that is written in the book is true. 

In this regard, there has been a lot of discussion and debate in the circles of fi lm studies for a long time, but it has not been possible to establish a unifi ed position. Nevertheless, it should be noted that no justifi cation, not by a single sign, can be found
in the tendency to change historical reality in the work of lliterature and art (in this case, film).

Film, Genre and Sub-Genre, Silent Film, History in Film, Sound Film, Hollywood, The Blockbusters, Braveheart
Published: Dec 20, 2021

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Film Studies