For this assignment, you will choose a film that deals in some significant way with the material we have studied or will study in this class and watch it critically — as a historian would. Your film must focus in a significant way on the history of religions — the focus of this class. A list of possible films to choose from is give-n below. If you would like to suggest a film for this assignment, shoot me an email and argue for its inclusion in our list. If I approve it, you can use it for this assignment.
Writing a film review often requires multiple viewings of the film. Plan to watch the film two or even three times. During the first viewing, surrender yourself to the cinematic experience; in other words, get los-t in the narrative and enjoy the film without worrying about the answers you will eventually write. During your second viewing, try distancing yourself from the plot and instead focus on interesting elements of the film that link up significantly with the material we cover in this class, the material you’ve encountered in the assigned readings.
Read that again: “These significant linkages are the heart of this Project.”
After watching the film of your choosing, you will write a film review about it. That review must, at minimum, be 1,500 words long. In that review, you will answer the following questions in the order in which they appear here:
(Use about 200 words, no more. I’ve seen the film!) Write a synopsis, or summary, of the film, starting by giving the title of the film, when it was mad-e, and who directe-d it. Make sure that your summary makes sense to a reader who does not know the movie.
(not the literal action — where it was shot — but where it pretends to be filmed)? When does the action take place in the film’s story? (present the time depicted as accurately as you can: give us some brief context. This question is not asking when the film was made, but when the action of the film pretends to take place). Is the story chronological (according to the order of time) or does it have flashbacks?
Given the material we’ve explored in our class (textbook, video, primary sources), how historically accurate is the film in portraying the period its makers have tried to represent or depict? “Very accurate” or “pretty accurate” is not enough and will earn you a poor grade. Raise your game: Dissect the film as a historian would and show us its historical strengths and weaknesses. (Remember, the historical accuracy of the film is more important in this assignment than its entertainment value.)
(name him or her), what significance is missing from this representation of the past (the film) that should be mentioned to the director? Why should it be mentioned?
Please observe the recommended word lengths for each question. The minimum word count for your review essay is 1,500 words. Write no more than 1600 if you wish to exceed the minimum word requirement.