Canterbury academic historian to explain Hollywood
Canterbury academic historian to explain Hollywood’s film industry next week
May 8, 2014
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/