Historian to explain Hollywood's film industry

08 May 2014

A leading UC academic historian, who is an expert in the American movie industry, will give a public lecture next week looking at whether Hollywood got history right.

Historian to explain Hollywood's film industry

A leading University of Canterbury academic historian, who is an expert in the American movie industry, will give a public lecture next week looking at whether Hollywood got history right.

College of Arts’ Associate Professor Peter Field will raise issues such as whether there a premium on truth in the movies and if Hollywood’s take on history have a specific slant?

He will give his lecture on campus next Wednesday May 14. View a preview video here: http://youtu.be/LIjog9DHNkw.

"Hollywood at the beginning of the 21st century stands as the United States’ most valuable export, grossing billions of dollars worldwide.

"With so many people watching its movies, Hollywood is also the number one purveyor of stories about America and its history.

"In just the last year audiences have enjoyed Hollywood’s take on slavery, civil rights, the operation that killed Osama bin Laden and the triumph of Abraham Lincoln—to name only a few.

"How sensible, then, to ask if Hollywood has gotten its history right. When I was at Princeton University I got a chance to listen to film producer Martin Scorsese give a talk.

"We were only a small group and one student asked him what was Hollywood’s responsibility when it took on historic events with its films.

"Scorsese was taken aback. He said when people go into McDonald’s restaurants do they ask them what their responsibility was for culinary art for the people’s health?

"I think Scorsese’s indirect answer was actually ‘Hollywood’s number one directive is making money’. The colour of Hollywood isn’t the political red or blue colours it is green, for money.

"We know that Hollywood is an industry and has interests. Hollywood stands for the large American film-making industry and it is largely for America. During World War 2 a lot of Hollywood movies took on war preparedness with patriotic movies. But since the Vietnam war, Hollywood movies have become more critical and they have shown a more jaundiced view of American politics.

"So Hollywood takes up historical subjects and when it does so it does with its own  left, right or green slant.’’

Associate Professor Field was a classmate of US President Barack Obama at Columbia University in the 1980s. For further details about next week’s lecture: http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/wiw/

For further information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications 
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168
kip.brook@canterbury.ac.nz

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