The Importance of the History of Cinema

         Movies have been with us since the beginning of the twentieth century. Many might believe that movies are just for entertainment and that use alone. But one just has to take a simple look back at movies since the beginning to now to know that there is more than just entertainment to movies. There are many movies that have social commentary or show the ideas of their time. Movies, even fictional ones, are distinct ways to learn how a certain culture, era, people etc lived at a certain time.

         Looking back on movies like Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind, one could witness the ideology of African Americans in not only Hollywood but in America at that time. Both of these movies use African American actors yet the roles these actors are placed in are usually ignorant and non important to the movie as a whole. We watch in Birth of a Nation how most of the African Americans (many of them played by white actors in black face) are shown to be ignorant and mean, as they are seen taking over the city and abusing the Caucasian citizens. In Gone with the Wind the African Americans seem to be more humanized but are still in the roles of slave. Also, the African Americans that, after being freed, do not choose to stay with their original owners are shown as bad. The African Americans that stay with their owners are considered good and are shown to have some form of intelligence.

         These two examples are just one of many, while watching films from other countries the audience could get the idea of how the culture is as a whole. For instance watching any Monty Python movie, the audience gets an idea of British humor, which is very different from the American idea of humor.

         Movies are placed in our society for more reason than entertainment; if anything such movies give us the opinions of others or even a glimpse into another era and/or culture.

Amy Hiett

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