Civil War In American Memory
Dr. McClurken, Spring 2013
The Portrayal of Confederate Soldiers in Film
This documentary will uncover the changes in Civil War films over time. Whether films have approached the subject in either a fictitious, satirical, or historical way, the soldiers are always the ones that gain the most attention. This is because they are literally the “stars” of the war, the same way they become the stars of the films. Since the first Civil War movies had been produced, it has become evident that the shift in the approach has begun to cater more towards aspects of entertainment and money making, then it had in its previous decades. Throughout the documentary, various examples of scenes will be taken from these films, and will be compared with one another to show that Confederate soldiers are not typically the “civil” soldiers, like those of the Union. This documentary will also include the opinions and thoughts of non-scholars who have seen the films, in order to see where the public stands on this topic, and also how influential these films are in providing perspective. People are easily influenced from what they witness in these films, and that is a major issue in regards to how the memory of the war is carried on. This is because, unfortunately, many people believe what they see on television and in cinema to be true. If they are being provided with false accounts of Confederate soldiers, it is likely that they will continue to believe what they see on the big screen, and remember the Civil War through the eyes of the director.
Scholarly approaches to this subject as a whole are minimal, however, the combined reactions to specific films will allow for demonstrating this topic.
Bordewich, Fergus M. Civil War Veterans Come Alive in Audio and Video Recordings. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Civil-War-Veterans-Come-Alive-in-Audio-and-Video-Recordings.html (accessed February 15, 2013).
This a collection of interviews from ex- Confederate soldiers. Whether not the interviews were edited for a specific audience or not, this is a first hand look at how the soldiers felt will allow for further interpretation of portrayal.
Butler, Richard. 2011. It’s Only Make Believe: The Implications of Fictional and Authentic Locations in Films. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes 3, no. 2: 91-101, http://ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/864103631?accountid=12299. (accessed February 15, 2013).
This paper discusses the extent to which film locations affect the decision making of tourists and overall attractiveness of film locations as tourist destinations. It addresses various films in which battle fields of the Civil War have been glorified to attract visitors.
Callenbach, Ernest. True Grit. Film Quarterly , Vol. 23, No. 1 (Autumn, 1969), p. 57. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1211129 (accessed February 17, 2013).
This is a review for the original True Grit film produced in 1969. It provides insight on the film and a positive reaction, which will be used in arguing the reaction of the public.
CSA: The Confederate States of America. DVD. Directed by Kevin Willmott. 2004; New York City, NY: IFC Films, 2006.
This film is a satire, which shows what would have happened to the United States, had the Union lost and the Confederacy victorious. This will become helpful in determining how soldiers are perceived in the sense of fictitious films.
Gettysburg. DVD. Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell. 1991; Hollywood, CA: Turner Pictures, 1993.
This film was a very popular Civil War movie. The courage and strength of the Confederate soldiers are portrayed in a way that is distinguishable from the Union.
Hillyer, Reiko. Relics of Reconciliation: The Confederate Museum and Civil War Memory in the New South. The Public Historian , Vol. 33, No. 4 (November 2011), pp. 35-62. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.umw.edu/stable/pdfplus/10.1525/tph.2011.33.4.35.pdf?acceptTC=true (accessed February 13, 2013).
This museum depicts slavery as benevolent; the museum’s exhibits reinforced the notion that Jim Crow was a just and effective means of managing postwar southern society. Although this source does not directly link to film, it describes the museum, which can possibly be indirectly linking itself with portrayal of soldiers in film, in the same fashion as they are portrayed in the exhibits.
Johnson, Wookie. ‘John Carter’ And 8 Other Films With Confederate Protagonists. http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-lists/john-carter-and-8-other-films-with-confederate-protagonists/1/ (accessed February 15, 2013).
This website, although not scholarly, provides an interesting summary for films that have Confederate protagonists. This will open doors to public perspective on the portrayal of Confederate soldiers.
Joyce, Simon and Jennifer Putzi. “Greatest Combination in Motion Pictures”: Film History and the Division of Labor in the New York Motion Picture Company” Film History 21, no 3 (2009) 189-207. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40405933 (accessed February 11, 2013).
This source provides insight on different issues that may have influenced filmmakers and writers to approach their films with a bias. That being said, it will allow for further development of arguing why Confederate soldiers are not portrayed the same in every film.
Koresky, Michael. 2004. Cold Mountain. Film Comment 40, no. 1: 74-75, http://ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/210288602?accountid=12299. (accessed February 15, 2013).
This review provides a good summary of the movie Cold Mountain. It will become helpful when analyzing the film.
Rollins, Peter C. and John E. O’Connor. “America’s Wars in Film and History: Why We Fought.” Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008.
This book describes how people are easily influences by film, specifically focusing on the Civil War.
Spehr, Paul C. “The Civil War in Motion Pictures: A Bibliography of Films Produced in the United States in 1897. Washington DC: Library of Congress Publications, 1961.
This book focuses on the different ways the Civil War has been portrayed in films over time. This will help in the historiography of this assignment.
Strauss, J. (2008). Myth and Memory: The Civil War in Fiction and Film From Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Cold Mountain. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 85(1), 216-217. http://ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/216939737?accountid=12299 (accessed February 15, 2013).
This source addresses the fiction behind many portrayals of the Civil War in different films. It will become evident how Confederate soldiers portrayed differently from Union soldiers.
The Birth of a Nation. DVD. Directed by D.W. Griffith. 1914: David W. Griffith Corp., 1915.
This is one of the earliest Civil War films. Although silent, it has been named one of the most 100 important films in the History of American films. This will be the beginning of the chronological approach. Also, it will provide the backbone for determining how different films are today in regards to the treatment of race.
True Grit. DVD. Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen. 2010; Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures, 2010.
In a battle to determine who has the most “grit” this film depicts confederate soldiers attempting to do so. It will be one of the primary examples in arguing how confederate soldiers are portrayed.
Watson, W. (2009). D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation”: A History of ‘the Most Controversial Film of All Time’. Southern Quarterly, 47(1), 172-176,185. http://ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/222241148?accountid=12299 (accessed February 17, 2013).
This source described the controversy behind The Birth of a Nation. It will become useful when arguing the shift in the approach to civil war films.