Filmsthat Show U.S History


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Filmsthat Show U.S History

The American history is among the richest histories in the world. The American has evolved over three centuries and the events have been recorded in various ways. Films have been a great way to depict the cultural events and shifts that the nation has been through (Rosenstone). While films do not necessarily include all the details of events like their written counterparts, they have proved to be an excellent way to depict the history of America, through the recreation of history by the use of images (Rosenstone). This essay is a comparison of three films that depict the American culture and the evolution of civil rights. The essay will also look at how non-whites have been portrayed and the evolution of their roles in films. Films have been a means to communicate strong messages and profound lessons for the American history.

Rocky IV is a movie which shows a legendary boxing fight between two boxers, Ivan Drago from Russia and Apollo creed from theUS. The film is set in the mid-1980s a period characterized by tensions between the Americans and the soviets. Distrust, competition, and indirect armed conflict were the character of the cold war taking place between the two nations. This condition was evident through events such as the berlin blockade, the soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Vietnam War. Since the two nations could not take up arms against each other, they chose to take their grudge to areas of protection where they unleashed war upon each other. Apollo creed is a black man who represents America in the boxing ring, in a boxing fight representative of the tension between the Americans and the soviets. Apollo sets out to show the soviets American superiority in the boxing ring. Apollo is, however, no match for his Russian opponent and dies in the match. This shows that death was an inevitable result of the cold war. In this film, the message is that despite a history of rivalry and hatred, people can change and develop amicable relations. The appreciation the Russian crowd gives rocky balboa is representative of the fact that peace could replace the tensions between the Americans and the soviets.

Do the right thing is a movie set in 1989 that explores the racial tension in a community. The characters in the movie are shown to be of diverse origins; being Koreans, African Americans, Italians and whites, all who live in Brooklyn New York. The tensions between these people are highlighted in various sections of the movie, following the death of Radio Raheem, who is killed by the police after he confronts the Italian pizzeria owner. The movie shows the relationship between Sal, the pizzeria owner, his sons and Mookie his lazy pizza delivery boy. The relationship between non-whites is evident in the fact that Sal, who is Italian, still retains Mookie in his employ despite Mookie’s lazy character. Mookie is also married to a Hispanic woman, Tina. The film is representative of how social class, race, and moral decisions affect the daily interactions of diverse peoples. The movie portrays the characters through their racial stereotypes and shows how they express their differences through ethnic based insults. The film shows that though there is a conflict between the Korean Americans, Hispanics, and the African Americans, the conflict between the whites and blacks is more pronounced; it is only the white man’s business that is burned to the ground.

The great dictator is a movie set in 1940, a period characterized by the rise of Adolf Hitler. The movie itself is a satire of Adolf Hitler and condemns the Nazis and their values. The movie focuses on Hitler’s strategy to put the Jews in concentration camps and attack neighboring nations. The movie focuses on the suffering hailed upon the Jews by their white oppressors. The main focus in the movie is the mass murders that occur due to the violence and greed that have overtaken the free and beautiful way of life. In the case of the movie, the dictator urges the people to treat each other more humanely and eliminate the need to cause suffering to others. The Jews, in this case, are portrayed as the victims of hatred with no basis.

The three movies depict nonwhites as victims, heroes, and instigators of conflict, in different eras of American history. The evolution of American history is well portrayed from the time of the world wars to the cold war and then to a time when whites and nonwhites can coexist in a neighborhood with a sense of unity, though not peaceful coexistence. The three movies focus on the growth of human rights, racism, and the abuse of civil rights. In the movies rocky IV and Do the right thing, the nonwhite person is depicted as one who is aggressive and holds a form of conflict over the white person, perhaps due to the years of racial segregation that taught blacks to be against whites. In the movie, the great dictator, the non-whites are victims of the white’s hatred and racism, which can explain the reaction of the blacks towards the whites in the former movies. The movies show the evolution of the non-white character, through the various phases of American history.




Rosenstone, Robert A. History on film/film on history. Routledge, 2014.


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