Category Archives: Historians in the Movies

Decline of the American Empire

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The Decline of the American Empire (1986), or how historians are depressed, hedonistic and abusive scholars who lead meaningless lives and don’t write any history.  Serge Miville “There are three important things in history: First, the numbers, second, the numbers and third, the numbers. That’s why South African blacks will eventually win, and North American blacks are likely to never… Read more »

Who’s Afraid of Being an Historian?

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Colin M. Coates In the 1966 Hollywood film, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, Richard Burton plays a cantankerous, disappointed, middle-aged History professor at a small liberal arts college in New England.  “George” (Burton) has reason to be grumpy.  He feels thwarted in his career and his relationship.  He is married to “Martha” (Elizabeth Taylor), a foul-mouthed “femme fatale” who constantly… Read more »

Archivists In The Movies – Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones

Krista McCracken Anyone else remember The Librarians TV series? I’ll openly admit that I started watching it because the show was focused on library professionals, albeit librarians of a magical library. If there was a show called The Archivists, I would be championing it before it even aired. A lot of people have no idea what an archivist does, and… Read more »

Lucky Jim

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‘Lucky Jim’ Stephen Brooke There were three foundational texts in my early development as a historian. I would love to say one of them was E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class. But it wasn’t. Rather, the first was Hamlyn Children’s History of the World (1969) by Plantagenet Somerset Fry (oh, that name) and the second was… Read more »

National Treasure

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Dr. Abigail Chase in full-length ball gown at a gala.

National Treasure (2004): I Need More Galas Claire Campbell I need more galas. Scroll through reviews of National Treasure (2004) on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB and you’ll notice a lot of critics describing the movie as a kind of set-in-America Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) or Da Vinci Code (then in production for 2006). After all, it’s an adventure… Read more »

The Active Historian Action Figure

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By Alan MacEachern As Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford has come to embody the archaeologist on film. Why hasn’t he done the same for, or to, historians? In Patriot Games (1992), the actor plays Jack Ryan, a professor of naval history who thwarts an assassination attempt in London. The movie is based on Tom Clancy’s novel, an early entry in the… Read more »

Historians in the Movies

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Coming to a screen near you Colin Coates This summer season, Active History is providing a series of posts on historians in the movies.  These are not necessarily historical films – although we know as well as anyone that every film is a product of its time and place.  No, these are films that feature historians (and people in allied… Read more »