Archive for October, 2008

Matewan…yawn

jboyl5av on Oct 29th 2008

For one of the first times this semester, I watched the film before the lecture on historical content. My impression? Matewan, as far as historical films go, was pretty acuarte to the events surrounding West Virginian coal miners unionizing in the 1920s, as well as to the Matewan Massacre. BUT….I haven’t been so bored by a movie in a long time. Even if a movie is historically acurate, it does nothing to alter public perception if it can’t even capture my attention – someone who enjoys historical films. I kept checking the time every 5 minutes, hoping it would be over soon, but alas, it continued to drone on. One thing that did not help the film’s case in my mind is that the actors seemed to mumble a lot. Maybe this was an unfortunate product of their attempts to acheive Appalachain accents, but it made the diaologue difficult to understand, and the dvd lacked subtitles.
Apparently this film was low budget. Even so, jewels have been known to emerge out of little money…well I would not call Matewan a jewel. I did enjoy the performance by the young preacher boy who I am not sure even existed historically. I always love watching James Earl Jones in movies, but even he could not save this one for me…his portrayal as Few Clothes Johnson was that of a noble Black man, but more like a follower of the union, rather than a leader – especially towards the end when he was picked to execute Joe. He seemed rather feable and naive when holding that gun.
Overall, even though this movie took less historical liberties than a lot of films we have seen this semester, its impact on me was not significant.

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The valiant effort that is Glory

jboyl5av on Oct 9th 2008

After watching Glory, my first impression was that this was one of the first films I have seen for this class that actually takes into account primary source documents – the personal correspondence of Colonel Shaw. Not only does the film cite the letters as its source for the depiction of historical events, but goes further to provide narration from the letters to further the plot. I have to give props to the filmmakers of Glory for a valiant effort, for their depiction of history actually comes from a man who lived it. Although Gone with the Wind will always have a special place in my heart, with its sweeping epic nature and the romantic saga between Rhett and Scarlet, Glory is many steps above the film version of Margaret Mitchell’s romance novel of the Old South, in terms of historical accuracy, for sure. Not only was the history major part of me appeased by the filmmakers’s efforts to make the movie as accurately as possible, but the obsessive movie goer side of me was also quite entertained. The story of the 54th was a moving, one that tugged at my heartstrings till the very end when Matthew Broderick was thrown in a pit with 45 of his men, face down in the sand. I appreciated the performances by all the famous black actors of the 1990s, including Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman, as well those by Matthew Broderick and Carey Ellwis, who will always be Westley(Princess Bride) or Robin(Robin Hood: Men in Tights) in my heart. I am glad that Hollywood chose not to make the heroic story of the men of the Massachusetts 54th into a sappy love story with a happy, dramatic ending. In all the respects mentioned in the above rant, Glory was glorious.

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