How do heritage films extend,
or delimit, the possibilities of
historical representation?
Rob Stone, University of
Birmingham
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Historical representation in heritage films is
extended through illustration, example, everyday
detail (costumbrismo), relevance to present
(allegory, foreshadowing), realising the myth
(‘getting to know’ famous figures and ‘experiencing’
specific events such as battles)...also star
discourse, generic conventions, narrative
ploys...and also reception (entertainment and
education)...
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Historical representation in heritage films is
delimited by narrow subjectivity on events and
people, revisionism (for a nationalist cause, for
example), by the construction of a distorting mirror
on the present (false allegory) for political
ends,...mythologising the real (mythopaeia)...also
star discourse, generic conventions, narrative
ploys...and also reception (receptiveness of
audience, fore-knowledge or its lack, suiting ‘the
mood’ or not...
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Roots of Europe in history...and its break-up?
Heritage cinema is related to myth (especially
those of nationhood). A myth is an enduring
narrative - how does it contribute to the idea of
Europe?
Myth includes and enables the coming to terms
with trauma
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
History
Myth
Historical representation
Narratives of nationhood
Heritage cinema
History
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
‘Heritage [is] “a project”, if not a conspiracy or a
plot that at the very least is a strategy [...]. It is a
“bid for hegemony”, a way of using knowledge in
the service of power.’
- Raphael Samuel, Theatres of Memory, London and New York: Verso. 1994, 243.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
‘In a consumer-led society, in which everything has
its price, and market values are unchallenged,
[heritage] ‘traffics’ in history and ‘commodifies the
past.’
- Raphael Samuel, Theatres of Memory, London and New York: Verso. 1994, 242.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Heritage reclaims the ‘folk’ - a Romantic gesture!
Rewrites or at least reorders the past from a specific
perspective
Cements basis of present-day endeavour, justifying same
Reframes future, allows for claims of tradition, symmetry,
destiny
Creates a ‘theme park’ representation of history, traditions,
customs and values
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
History
Myth
Historical representation
Narratives of nationhood
Heritage cinema
History
Memory
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
‘We do not remember, we rewrite memory much as
history is rewritten.‘
- Chris Marker, Sans soleil
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Heritage film today is ‘an important space for
playing out contemporary anxieties and fantasies
of national identity, sexuality, class and power.’
- Andrew Higson, ‘Re-presenting the National Past; Nostalgia and Pastiche in the Heritage Film’ in Fires Were Started: British
Cinema and Thatcherism, ed. Lester Friedman, Minneapolis and London: University of Minneapolis Press and UCL press, 1993,
113.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
History - Memory and rewritten memory
Myth - Imagination
Historical representation - Rewritten history
Narratives of nationhood - Anxieties and fantasies
Heritage cinema
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Heritage cinema offers ‘no critical historical
perspective.’
- Andrew Higson, ‘Re-presenting the National Past; Nostalgia and Pastiche in the Heritage Film’ in Fires Were Started: British
Cinema and Thatcherism, ed. Lester Friedman, Minneapolis and London: University of Minneapolis Press and UCL press, 1993,
113.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Heritage cinema ‘call(s) forth and playfully
betray(s) a popular knowledge of the European
past beyond the versions sanctified by official
history [...]. Thus films are first and foremost
symptomatic of the contemporary imagination,
offering unfamiliar takes on familiar myths.’
- Belén Vidal, ‘Classic Adaptations, Modern Reinventions’, Screen 43:1, 2002, 5.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Heritage cinema ‘has provided a space for
marginalised social groups, a sense of putting such
people back into history.‘
- Richard Dyer, ‘Heritage Cinema in Europe’ in Encyclopedia of European Cinema, ed. Ginette Vincendeau, London: Cassell,
1995, 205.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Historical imagery is ‘a dispositif that constitutes,
through an appeal to memory and identification, a
special form of address, at once highly individual
and capable of fostering a sense of belonging.’
- Thomas Elsaesser, European Cinema Face to Face with Hollywood, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005, 21.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
History - Memory and rewritten memory
Myth - Imagination
Historical representation - Rewritten history
Narratives of nationhood - Anxieties and fantasies
Heritage cinema - Genre
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Heritage cinema ‘constitutes a ‘genre’ only in a
loose sense’ - high budgets, historical setting, high
production values, A-list directors, stars, polished
lighting and camerawork, many changes of decor
and extras, well-researched interior design and
classical or classical-inspired music.
- Ginette Vincendeau, ‘Film/Literature/Heritage’ in A Sight and Sound Reader, London: BFI, 2001, xviii.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Genre provides:
Structure - chronology and chronicle
Iconography (can be appropriated)
Allegories of heroism, endurance, triumph
A resolution
Aspiration, association, nostalgia - sentiment!
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
The case of Spanish cinema
Francoist cine cruzada (Crusade Cinema)
Alba de América (Dawn of America)
Los últimos de Filipinas (Last Stand in the
Phillipines)
Raza (Race)
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
The case of Basque cinema
Post-dictatorship investment fosters a
rewriting of Basque history (5% of total
budget)
Unexportable ‘epics’: Akelarre and La
conquista de Albania
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
‘For few other peoples of the world, and surely
no other in Europe, can the scholarly study of
history be a matter of such direct and
contemporary importance, linked at not many
removes to political debate and even
terrorism, as is the case with the Basques.’
- Roger Collins, The Basques, Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
Revisionism - Romanticism and
Surrealism
Vacas - revisionist heritage cinema
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
‘Who takes the picture?’
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
‘Scholarly books and museums, civil rituals
and political discourse were for a long time the
elements with which the Identity (with a capital
“I”) was formulated and its rhetorical narrative
constructed.’
- Néstor García Canclini,
‘Will There be a Latin American Cinema in the Year 2000? Visual Culture in a Postnational Era’ (trans. Adriana X. Tatum and Ann
Marie Stock) in Ann Marie stock (ed.) Framing Latin American Cinema: Contemporary Critical Approaches, London and
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, 246.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
‘There is no reason to expect that the most
powerful media will enable us to look at
ourselves and to recognise our own cultural
and regional diversity in order to consider our
identity.’
- Néstor García Canclini, ‘Will There be a Latin American Cinema in the Year 2000? Visual Culture in a Postnational Era’ (trans.
Adriana X. Tatum and Ann Marie Stock) in Ann Marie stock (ed.) Framing Latin American Cinema: Contemporary Critical
Approaches, London and Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, 251.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
‘The state gradually, sometimes suddenly
removes itself from cultural production allowing
it to be devoured by the private sector with the
result that the most dynamic sectors of cultural
expression, which produce the most innovative
work, suffer the greatest repercussions. [...]
The private sphere, where transnationalization
and deterritorialization prevail, has almost
exclusive control over the voices and images.’
- Néstor García Canclini, ‘Will There be a Latin American Cinema in the Year 2000? Visual Culture in a Postnational Era’ (trans.
Adriana X. Tatum and Ann Marie Stock) in Ann Marie stock (ed.) Framing Latin American Cinema: Contemporary Critical
Approaches, London and Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, 250.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
‘National labels have promised varieties of
‘otherness’ - of what is culturally different
from both Hollywood and the films of other
importing countries [but we should] write
of states and nation-state cinemas rather
than nations and national cinemas.’
- Stephen Crofts, ‘Concepts of National Cinema’ in The Oxford Guide to Film Studies, eds John Hill and Pamela Church
Gibson, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 385-6)
‘Communities of sentiment’
- Georg Sorenson, The Transformation of the state: Beyond the Myth of Retreat, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004
•
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
In relation to the past - memory, history and myth interact always contested - accepted dialectic.
In relation to the future - projection of myth - unaccepted
dialectic.
How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical representation?
It depends on who takes the picture.
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How do heritage films extend, or delimit, the possibilities of historical