Many of the world’s moviemakers have been drawn to recreate pivotal events from our past through the lens of historical fiction, resulting in highly entertaining, and often award-winning, viewing. These movies have, in some cases, had an impact far beyond entertainment, shaping perceptions of events long after the fact (and the movies’ releases). During each week of this high school course, students will view a selected movie at home and then critically examine the truths and fictionalizations (intentional or not) in each film during moderated class-based discussions and in written discussion forums.
Through this class, students will gain a deeper appreciation for both the art of movie entertainment and the history being mined by the moviemakers. Weekly webinars are 50 minutes long. Recordings are available for students who must miss a session. Discussion topics will be posted in the forums to help guide the viewing of each film in its appropriate historical context.
Note: Please be aware that there can be multiple versions of some of our films, each from different years and with different actors. To help you in finding the correct version, we have included the lead billed actor and the year in which the movie was filmed below.
Eras Examined (and associated films):
Shakespearean Histories – Kings of England
- Looking for Richard (1996)
- Henry V (Kenneth Branagh, 1989)
Shakespeare and Beyond – Friends, Romans, Countrymen
- Julius Caesar (Marlon Brando, 1953)
- Spartacus (Kirk Douglas, 1960)
Racial Inequality to Apartheid
- Belle (2014)
- Invictus (2009)
Imperialism into World War 1
- Gandhi (1982)
- Lawrence of Arabia (Peter O’Toole, 1962)
- All Quiet on the Western Front (Louis Wolheim, 1930)
- Chariots of Fire (1981)
- The King’s Speech (2012)
World War 2
- Casablanca (1942)
- The Imitation Game (2014)
- Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
- Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Many of the selected movies are rated at least PG (a.k.a. ‘Parental Guidance’ suggested), although some are rated R. We strongly advise parents to be aware of the content that their children will be viewing before signing up for this course and we encourage families to view and discuss films together.