In this section of our interpretative resources, we provide perspectives on some of the critical issues surrounding 'filmed history'.
Screening History at the Ulster Museum
Our 'Screening History' series, hosted by the Ulster Museum, featured talks and screenings by leading scholars and filmmakers, exploring the topic of film and historical representation.
Ian Christie (Birkbeck, University of London): 'Never mind the facts: why films invent the past'
Dramatic films notoriously take liberties with the historical record, and are often accused of misleading public opinion. In this talk, Ian Christie argues that we should take films seriously for the ways they bring the past to life, but not mistake them for textbooks. You can listen to Professor Christie's talk here (recorded at the Ulster Museum, 30 April 2014).
Ian Christie, FBA, is Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck. A Queen’s graduate, he has published widely on Russian and British cinema; early film; Powell and Pressburger; and Martin Scorsese. A regular broadcaster, Ian is currently directing a project in the Czech Republic on ‘Representing the Past’.
James Chapman (University of Leicester): ‘Film and public history’
More people ‘know’ their history from seeing movies than reading books but what responsibility does this place on the film-maker as historian? Professional historians have typically been dismissive of film for its factual errors and misinterpretation. This lecture, which explores how films present ideologies of nationhood, class, gender and imperialism, will argue that film is often as valuable a source for understanding the present in which it was made as the past in which it is set. You can listen to Professor Chapman's talk here (recorded at the Ulster Museum, 15 May 2014).
James Chapman is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Leicester. He has published widely on film and cultural history including on the British at war, James Bond, national identity, and Dr Who. His most recent publication is Film and History (Palgrave, 2013).
Alison Ribeiro de Menezes (Warwick University): 'Screening Memory: The Spanish Civil War'
The Spanish Civil War ended 75 years ago, yet its legacy is still keenly debated in Spain today. This talk explores how the war been depicted in film, and the contribution that film as a medium might make to the remembrance of conflictive pasts. You can listen to Professor Ribeiro de Menezes's talk here (recorded at the Ulster Museum, 23 May 2014).
Professor Alison Ribeiro de Menezes is head of Hispanic Studies at Warwick University. She has published widely on contemporary Spanish narrative and cultural memory. Alison’s new monograph, Embodying Memory in Contemporary Spain, has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan.
Des Bell and Fearghal McGarry discuss the film The Enigma of Frank Ryan.
Interview with Director Des Bell.
Filming Major Ryan
Filmmaker Des Bell and historian Fearghal McGarry outline the challenges and pitfalls involved in their collaboration on a TG4-commissioned documentary film on the life of Frank Ryan.
Des Bell on The Enigma of Frank Ryan
One cut too many? History and film: a practice-based case study
Des Bell in The Journal of Media Practice, vol. 14, no. 1, June 2013
Documentary Film and History
Des Bell in Documentary in a Changing State, 2012 (PDF download)
Documentary Film and the Poetics of History
Des Bell in The Journal of Media Practice, vol. 12, no. 1, May 2011 (PDF download)
Shooting the past: Found footage filmmaking and popular memory
Des Bell in Kinema, Spring 2004 (external link)
The primacy of practice?
Des Bell in Kinema, Spring 2011 (external link)