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Abstract

Movies based on historical events can be of value to the teacher of History and English. Unlike documentaries however, they are not used as much as they might be in the History classroom, because as essentially fictional texts, they pose problems of interpretation for the historian. Given a correct understanding of how history and cinema interact, and how the cinema differs as a historical source from conventional records, the History teacher can make the most of movies as texts that reveal not so much what happened in history, but rather the importance of the event to later generations. Senior English teachers, who face the challenge of teaching the nature of representation in various texts, could also find a better understanding of history and cinema useful. Movies are sources that allow the student to explore issues of bias, representation and interpretation, and they have the added potential advantage of being texts that are intrinsically interesting to students.

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