K. A. Pital wrote: ↑
I still think that a more nuanced film could do just fine. Maybe it wouldn't be a Hollywood one but instead a European one. Maybe someone will have a go at it.
I would not have justified its budget because I doubt it could meet the expectation of a wide audience. A European (technically Darkest Hour is British as opposed to American) about Churchill would have been odd because there isn't a demand for such a thing. It would have been extremely low budget.
Once again you try to lecture me on semantics in a very hilarious way. I already said that I'm not going to play the "war is peace" game, didn't I? "Verifiable - able to be checked or demonstrated to be true, accurate, or justified"
Able to be verified doesn't make one particular narrative more truthful, that's my point. Even if one film has more veritfiable facts than the other, it's still trying to convey a particular narrative over others.
Exactly. And we are supposed to be moving beyond this. We have tools to check quote attribution, instead of relying on mere hearsay, we have a mass of documentary sources that dwarfs anything previously available, and this relates in the most direct way to the XX century history.
I'm saying we can't. Human society as a whole doesn't verify facts even if they are easily accessible to us. Some of us do, but human society as a whole doesn't. We still rely on implicit trust in our social circle or sources we trust.
I know the story, and it is one of the rare instances where the losing side got to name the war. Exceptions only solidify the rule: empires win wars, they rewrite history to absolve themselves, and in the end, there is no objective information, just stories and myths. As the defeated normally cannot raise their viewpoint sufficiently, they have to wait until they have the power to retaliate culturally.
Nope, that's not the argument. The point made by Chen (2016) was that it was the victors who got to name the war. It was the British public that named the war, popularise it worldwide before the Chinese decided to adopt it because they themselves benefits from such a name.
You're misreading the naming of the war because you are injecting your own moral sensibility to history. That's the issue I have.
I saw a Chinese movie that centered on repatriating cultural relics stolen by the British and the French. It took what, just 200 years to tell a very basic story from a different, non-Western point of view where the modern-day Chinese thieves are the good guys restoring a grave historical injustice done by the colonialists?
And such a movie got made because there was a popular demand for such a narrative that can finance such a project.
And yet, this is exactly what happens - attacks and counterattacks by people of different views. If these are factual debates, then we learn more as facts are unearthed by people looking to further their moral claims. If they stoop low and employ underhanded tactics (lies, fake events, fake documents) - we suffer as a whole, because the field is muddied by fakes which need to be proven fake, by false statements which take a great deal of effort to dismantle even with lots of factual information, and by misquotes that stick no matter the rebuttals. So in essence, history is a moral contest, or more precisely an ideological one, but underpinned also by personal moral perceptions.
Yet by casting a moral judgment on historical events, we limit our abilities to search for a much wider historical understanding. If we were to say, cast the interlocutors of imperialism, the local elites that benefited from Imperialism as morally wrong, we hinder our ability to understand the reason they made such decisions and why did empires last as long as they did.
We need to separate our moral/philosophical understanding of ethics from our study of history.
Make no mistake, Christian historians who engage in "unbiased" studies of beneficiality of Christianity aren't really. Nobody is. But the search of a more truthful account happens even in this imperfect state.
But that's not really the case. People looking at the benefits of Christianity aren't looking at historical questions in the very first place. They are looking at historical events for the sake of using them as examples to defend their modern sensibilities. It completely ignores how different Christianity was in the past from what it is today. We need to break away from our modern day ideas of morality if we are to study history.
Why? Something bad can't last? That's also a statement, which implies by definition that only good things last long. But the Dark Ages lasted long. Witch-burning, executions of heretics and the Inquisition lasted long. So his argument is not strong. It betrays his own bias only.
No, it's that looking at things from a moral perspective would hinder our ability to ask more historical questions. It doesn't allow us to understand things from the perspective of the people participating in the imperial projects.
And come on Pital. Surely you've read enough by now to dispell the whole notion of a "Dark Age"? Historians spent decades trying to deconstruct the whole idea of "dark ages", and you're buying into the popular and out-dated periodization of western history. You're falling into the trap of an artificially created period and letting the name cloud your understanding of history.
You should be allowed to make a moral stand that the Empire is bad, because the whole god damn apparatus of a defunct Empire will be there to claim that it's good!
No one said you can't. I'm saying that simply isn't historical.
You mean the geneaology? I like some of his ideas (like starting with the present and working into time before, in the process of historical study), but I don't think I'm an authority on Focault. I like "Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison" (Focault recanted later, saying he went overboard - I think he didn't and I love that book, a rare cry of pain in our numb age), but I'm not that well-versed in his ethics studies.
I was hoping to ask what do you think about his views on ethics within the realm of history, as it would have tied into our current discussion.
I am not a historian.
I'm not saying you are, or you should be. Although I do think you've read quite a number of historical works. My point is you need to understand casting moral judgment in historical narratives isn't the best approach to conveying your idea across.
Who are you to say what is the point of something? History is just ideology turned towards the explorable past, just as propaganda and TV are manifests of ideology in the present.
Because otherwise, it would make history entirely indistinct from fiction?
So far I see here that historical events are routinely faked, not merely "oversimplified". And films are full of fakes, and that's where most of the population gets their historical knowledge. So please bear with me. It is not as if I want to narrow the breadth of exploration - and even if I did, who would listen to this nobody? I want to broaden the scope of popularization. Make the popular narratives more complex and more accurate. But you're so hostile to the idea that you've already made your conclusions about my views, and they're hard to shake.
Our fundamental disagreement lies in how we perceive films and history. Most of the people' population doesn't come from the domain of film alone, but instead, it's through a much wider variety of sources and cultural discourse. People already possess views about Churchill even if they never saw any movie about him. They "know" about him in the way people know about figures like "Boudica" or William the conqueror.
Films are merely representing what people already "knew" about historical figures. Films are an expression of what we think we know on some level. A WW2 movie must dress in certain way, a medieval movie must dress in certain way and so on.
If you would have paid attention, I said that correcting factual errors - even in a simplified narrative - is a good start, and we shouldn't say "no let's keep films as bad as they are" just because it's the way it used to be.
Going back to my original point. I'm saying films aren't history and certain events are conjured up for narrative reasons. Films have certain technical constraints and limitations. We can't just blindly ignore them and assume correcting factual errors would make a film watchable in the eyes of the audience.
Hence my point about Tora, Tora Tora. Is it a well-researched movie? Sure, but it's also considered by many people as too boring that they don't even want to watch it in the first place. If the masses reject a work, all your effort about historical research would have gone to waste because no one actually sees your work.
Another example is Gladiator. The story is entirely fictional, but not everyone is bothered by that, even if they are Roman historians like Thanas. Does it portray a more idealised version of Rome and Marcus Aurelius? Certainly, but most people understand it's a fictional movie first, historical documentary last.
This would depend a lot on the skills of translating a complex narrative into a dramatic story, and on the people's preferences at the time. If there's a sizeable demand for a critical look, it can be successful. If not - well, at least we tried, y'know.
My main argument is there is no sizeable demand that can allow a movie of that budget to see any decent return. Historical validity and accuracy is not a big demand in most audience's minds. It's akin to people asking the world-building in Star Wars to be consistent. Drama in a story always overrides detail concern. You're expecting most of humanity to be something they're not.
Humans are such funny creatures. We are selfish about selflessness, yet we can love something so much that we can hate something.