Mirela has been kind enough to donate this towards my cause of providing all writers free information about any topic imaginable to further their writing endeavours. I met this lovely historian over twitter recently and we hit it off! We instantly bonded over our mutual love of history and I felt that her article on popular fiction and historical realism of the Roman era was something worth sharing. You never know what information may trigger inspiration.
Historical films have been subject to controversy and criticism within the discipline of history upon the rise of popular interest in new and innovative forms of historical representation. Indeed, the five to seven years between the release of Gladiator (2000) and Rome (2005-7) saw an upsurge of historical films focusing on the ‘epic’: the spectacular, monumental and immersive periods of history that exude a mix of historical reality and speculative fiction. This paper is as much about history and popular imagination as it is about historical films. It argues that it is not historical accuracy or film as historical evidence that matters, but the historical questions and debates that film raises for its audience and the historical profession regarding the past it presents and its implication on history. Such questions and debates base themselves around the extent to which filmmakers are able to interpret history through images and what kind of historical understandings it hopes to achieve. This argument is asserted through the case study of HBO’s Rome, chosen due to its unique ability in igniting historiographical debate by presenting history as an accident, thus allowing audiences to question the outcome of historical events.
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