Oscars 2014: History in Pictures

We would like to congratulate all of last night’s Oscar winners, but there are a few winners who are especially close to our hearts at UNC Press. After the dust of pre-Oscar predictions settled, Twelve Years a Slave arose victorious last night winning the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and Best Adapted Screenplay. When director Steve McQueen accepted the Oscar he said, “Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live,” and we could not be more happy that such an important film has received the recognition it deserves.

Glenn David Brasher: A Historian’s Take on ’12 Years a Slave’

Everything you have heard about the film 12 Years a Slave is true; it is exceptionally well acted, gorgeously filmed, and brutally honest about antebellum slavery. There are moments that are extremely difficult to watch and this is as it should be, leaving audiences stunned into numbness. Film critics and historians alike have praised it as a watershed in the depiction of slavery in American cinema, and this is certainly true. Nevertheless, the film demonstrates that Hollywood has not yet fully caught up with current interpretations of slave life in the antebellum South.

Twelve Years a Slave: The Narrative Behind the Film

The film tells the story of Solomon Northrup (Ejiofor), a free man and fiddle-player from New York who was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in Louisiana. It explores Northrup’s efforts to retain his dignity in the face of inhumanity as he longs for the family he was taken from and hopes for freedom throughout time in the employ of three different masters, ranging from a kindly preacher (Benedict Cumberbatch) to a cruel plantation owner (Fassbender). Remarkably, and horrifically, the story is a true one.

M. Todd Bennett: How and Why Humphrey Bogart, in Casablanca, Taught American Moviegoers to Risk Their Necks for Others’ Well-Being

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Casablanca’s world premier on November 26, 1942. In the following post, M. Todd Bennett, author of One World, Big Screen: Hollywood, the Allies, and World War II, reveals what fans may not know about the movie, widely considered among the best ever made.

M. Todd Bennett: When Behaviorism Went to the Movies

Developed at the beginning of the twentieth century, movies quickly arose to become the cultural centerpiece, especially during Hollywood’s “golden era” of the 1930s and ’40s. In 1941, 85 million Americans—85 million, more than three-fifths of the overall U.S. population, which totaled 131 million at the time—attended movie theaters each week. Cinema’s remarkable popularity led observers to conclude that movies strongly influenced impressionable theatergoers.

Miles Orvell: From Mayberry to Dogville: The Small Town as Microcosm

Mayberry, Lake Wobegon, Hadleyburg, Dogville—these are extreme representations of the small town and they are in direct conflict with one another. Taken together, they reveal the contradictions of the American twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Altina L. Waller: The Hatfield-McCoy Feud

What is missing here is any social and economic context. True, the Civil War is the film’s encompassing social explanation, but it leaves me wondering why the set of social and economic circumstances that confronted folks in post war Appalachia is completely ignored. In the Tug Valley, as in all Appalachia and even the entire South, economic decline was a serious threat to almost everyone.

Carrie Hamilton: Sexual Diversity in Cuba

It would be a mistake to say that Cuba’s revolutionary leaders came clean on the history of anti-homosexual discrimination and violence. But there were public signs of a willingness to revisit that history in a new light. The most famous example was the 1993 release of the film ‘Strawberry and Chocolate,’ by Cuba’s most prominent film director, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, a friend and ally of Fidel Castro.

Nicolas G. Rosenthal: Reimagining American Indian Culture in Hollywood and Beyond

From the 1910s through the 1930s, hundreds of American Indians settled in Los Angeles and worked in the motion picture industry as actors, extras, stunt performers, and technical advisors. Some were recruited from reservations to make films for a short period of time. They camped in the Santa Monica Mountains, shot films in its canyons during the day, and explored the city by night.

Christian McWhirter: Did They Get It Right?: Civil War Music in Popular Film

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R1dtIf8LQM”>”Dixie”

Glory is noteworthy as one of the few popular representations of the war to include African American music. The Civil War had a tremendous impact on black music but the songs created and sung by African Americans are rarely included in books and films. Although Burns makes use of black spirituals, even he does not incorporate those that were actually most popular among slaves, freedpeople, and USCTs.

Video: Trailer for ‘Death Row,’ a film by Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian, included in their new book

View the trailer for the documentary film ‘Death Row,’ included in the new book by Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian called ‘In This Timeless Time: Living and Dying on Death Row in America.’

Historians on ‘The Help’: Vanessa May and Rebecca Sharpless Respond

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RyEGeZmAn8″>to

Historians Vanessa May and Rebecca Sharpless discuss what’s wrong and what’s right with ‘The Help.’

Karen L. Cox: GONE WITH THE WIND as Southern History

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War epic, Gone with the Wind.  The book and its characters are being celebrated and discussed around the world.  From Atlanta to Calcutta, people have weighed in on why they like …

Continue reading ‘Karen L. Cox: GONE WITH THE WIND as Southern History’ »

Michael Hunt: Restrepo: An Oscar for Afghanistan?

Update 4/21/2011:The lamentable news of Tim Hetherington’s death covering the civil conflict in Libya reached us yesterday (20 April 2011). Restrepo is one of this fine and courageous documentarian’s major achievements. His record of what it meant for U.S. soldiers to fight in the Afghan War will stand the test of time.—MHH Ignore all the …

Continue reading ‘Michael Hunt: Restrepo: An Oscar for Afghanistan?’ »