History adapted into on-screen entertainment

Students are watching history unfold from the comfort of their theatre seats.

Movie adaptations of true-stories have been flooding the box offices. Through these films, viewers have gotten a mere glimpse into history, being educated on social, economic and political issues while remaining bug-eyed at the site of Hollywood’s entertainment. Many of the most recent motion pictures have documented either real-life stories or real-life issues, bringing an element of history to what is commonly seen as solely a source for entertainment.

Split: 1883

While the plot line of Split is fictional, the basis of the film centers around Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which was one of the first psychological disorders to be studied by scientists. One of the earliest case studies dates back to 1883 when Frenchman Pierre Janet studied Léonie, a woman who had three distinct personalities. One theory surrounding DID is that alternate personalities – anywhere from five to 16 of them – develop after an individual experiences a traumatic event as a way to block out the tragedy.

AP Psychology teacher Angie Johnston said due to the scarcity of DID, there are few case studies on the disorder; however, Split has done a good job of bringing the resurfacing the discussion.

“I think Split probably has brought this out more would be my understanding,” Johnston said. “It’s been talked about, but I don’t think it’s nearly as talked about as anxiety disorders or mood disorders or something like that. In our book, it says the prevalence can be anywhere from 0.4 percent of the population upwards to six percent of the population could have it, but again, it’s not researched enough.“

Hacksaw Ridge: 1945

Hacksaw Ridge was among the many historically-adapted films to receive academy attention. The film followed Desmond T. Doss, an American soldier who saved 75 lives in World War II without firing a single shot. Doss enlisted as a medic when he was 23 and was given conscientious objector status after refusing to carry a gun. During the Battle of Okinawa, Doss rescued 75 of his comrades who had been stranded on a cliff, known as Hacksaw Ridge, by lowering them into a rope-supported litter he had created.

Senior Todd Borgerson said the reality of these movies makes their plotlines more appealing to the viewer.

“It’s probably a movie that I wouldn’t have seen if it wasn’t nominated for best picture or base doff a true story, so the fact that it was a true story made it just a little bit more extraordinary and a little bit more interesting,” Borgerson said. “Some of the war scenes and seeing running through and saving people and getting shot at were pretty insane just to watch and imagine that being real, so I thought that was really cool. I think there’s a lot of great true stories that haven’t been told, and movies are a really good way to see these incredible stories that people have gone through.”

Hidden Figures: 1958 

The Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures addressed 1960s controversies surrounding African Americans and their struggle for civil rights, specifically African American women and their fight to achieve equality in the workforce.The plot centered around the lives of NASA Human Computers Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson and their perseverance through segregation, gender and racial issues in order to put John Glenn and Alan Shepard into space.

Senior Sarah Wade said she appreciated the film’s discussion of race and gender inequality in the workforce and that this discussion has resonated with her.

“It makes you think more about your country’s history,” Wade said. “It’s not just ‘Oh this happened this happened, this happened; there were slaves and now there’s not.’ There’s so many little things in between that we don’t pay attention to. It’s got me thinking a lot more about issues, especially with race, in our society today and how I don’t always pay attention to things like that but how those things that are uncomfortable or controversial have shaped our society.”

Loving: 1967

The Supreme Court’s 1967 ruling to legalize interracial marriage was rooted in Richard and Mildred Loving’s relationship, which at the time was a crime due to Richard being Caucasian and Mildred being Native American. Loving chronicles the famed Loving v. Virginia case and its impact on today’s society.

Wade said the fact that the film explored such an iconic yet sometimes overlooked fact of American history appealed to her.

“I never knew that the couple in Loving was the first interracial couple to have the controversy with the government,” Wade said. “I (thought) ‘Whoa, like that is gonna be a great movie, discussing that first milestone in our country,’ and then with Hidden Figures, the same thing. They were both just really big events that I didn’t really understand; they were all kind of like hidden things that I knew were important, but I didn’t really know much about, so that’s why I wanted to see it.”

Lion: 2012

After getting lost navigating the trains in India, Saroo Brierly was disconnected from his family and forced to fend for himself at only five years old. After being adopted by an Australian family, Brierly became determined to reconnect with his family in India, so he tracked his heritage using the newest technology, Google Maps.

Sophomore Samantha Theisen said the film opened her eyes to a world outside of American culture.

“Lion was nominated for a couple Oscars, and I think because it was such a powerful story,” Theisen said. “I couldn’t wrap my head around it because living in the United States, it’s not like that at all, so I was surprised to see the numbers of in India how many kids go missing and how in the United States you’re kind of sheltered from that because our culture is completely different.”

See what Editor-in-Chief Jessica Sommerville had to say about Hidden Figures.

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