The Best Historical Films

Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Now by saying historical films I don’t mean the next documentary on the History Channel, I’m talking about films based on people like Mark Zuckerburg and Marilyn Monroe. Although no one can ever prove their accuracy and know what actually happened, insights into people who changed history are always, in my opinion, fascinating.

Another aspect I like about these films is that, unlike many documentaries, you connect more with the characters on the screen. I was never a huge fan of history, but being able to witness someone’s story and understand their emotions more thoroughly meant that I was automatically more interested. This direct atmosphere allowed for a greater connection which I think is more entertaining.

I’ve gathered and nitpicked at a few historically-based films (mostly recent) that I think you should give a go in no particular order, even if history isn’t your thing:

The King’s Speech (2010) – Who doesn’t love a bit of Colin Firth? He plays King George VI, who suffered from a stammer. He seeks help from a slightly unconventional speech therapist named Lionel, since he would otherwise be claimed unfit to be king.

Gladiator (2000) – Russell Crowe plays a Roman general whose family is brutally murdered, so seeks revenge after being captured and forced to become a gladiator until his death. Filled with action and incredible costumes.

The Social Network (2010) – “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies”. How Mark Zuckerburg created the most well known social network in the world, and the lawful complications he faced against two brothers.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) – One of my favourite films from the 40s with a powerful ending. The Grapes of Wrath follows the Joad family throughout their struggle through the Great Depression. A very personal and effective story, with amazing cinematography and editing.

My Week with Marilyn (2011) – A film following a week that Colin Clark spent with actress Marilyn Monroe, experiencing her struggles with acting, fame and the need to be loved and accepted. A great film, I loved the musical score and characterisation.

Searching for Sugarman (2012) – Although the style of this film is not something that I would usually watch, the way that the story is told is spectacular. check domain . Searching for Sugarman is a brilliant documentary style film about searching for a man named Rodriguez, who reached inspirational fame without knowing it until many years later after long-running rumours about his suicide. You really invest yourself in the two South African detectives looking for him, and find yourself questioning how anything like this could ever realistically happen.

Milk (2008) – A tale based on a gay activist who changed political history by being the first openly gay elected official in America. Sean Penn gives an incredible performance, presenting how Harvey’s courage changed lives and American history.

So these are my top historical films 🙂

Don’t miss a film about Princess Diana (‘Diana’), coming out later this year. Ever since her death there have been endless conspiracy theories about her life and how she died, but no one will ever know the real story. What do you think? Share your top films on our FB page.

Why do we watch films to escape?

Source: Getty Images, http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/photo/movie-royalty-free-image/143921276
Source: Getty Images, http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/photo/movie-royalty-free-image/143921276

Ever been to the cinema just to get away from it all?

Many people watch films or programs just to have that half an hour or more to themselves. Watching made-up characters do made-up things is a bit like watching adults playing with real-life dolls, only with more complicated story lines. This is ordinarily seen as simple entertainment, but since many of us watch films or telly to escape our everyday stress, it is sometimes known as escapism. However, why do we search for this and why is it so effective?

The answer is known as catharsis, a form of releasing our pent up emotions vicariously through certain characters’ emotions. This happens by being both attached and detached from what we’re watching on the screen. We are attached because we can either empathize or sympathize, yet we aren’t physically next to the real-life puppets crafted by directors and screenwriters. As a result, we feel their emotion and respond with our own emotions in return. And since we are all capable of feeling the same emotions, we can relate to them.

Here’s an example; you’ve had an extremely long day at work; very hectic, emails every 2 seconds, phone won’t stop ringing and everyone’s on edge. You get home, plonk yourself down on your sofa and turn the telly on. Immediately your mind begins to switch off as you focus on what is happening in front of you. Maybe you’re watching a soap and someone somehow managed to wake up from a coma, or you’re watching a comedy and possibly chuckling along with the recorded laughter coming from your speakers. Either way, you are engaging yourself in the characters on the screen by watching them and feeling their emotions, yet any second you could get up to make a cup of tea and start thinking about work again. This creates a balance of attachment and detachment between your real life and the pretend life on screen;  it is not real, but the emotions that you feel because of it are.

This example is a very regular one that happens all the time. However, there could be an occasion where you watch an extremely sad film where a character that you’ve grown fond of dies or the ending isn’t how you expected it. You walk out of the cinema with puffy red eyes and have to rush to the loo to get more tissues. By witnessing and indirectly experiencing someone else’s loss or sadness you are able to release your own repressed emotions. At the same time, you realize that you don’t have to face the same problem as the character you are watching, you feel relief.

So, catharsis is one of the many reasons we go to the cinema. What’s your reason?