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The Columbia companion to American history on film - Peter C. Rollins

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The Columbia companion to American history on film - how the movies have portrayed the American past
Peter C. Rollins
Columbia University Press
UK Publication Date

American history has always been an irresistible source of inspiration for filmmakers, and today, for good or ill, most Americans'sense of the past likely comes more from Hollywood than from the works of historians. In important films such as The Birth of a Nation (1915), Roots (1977), Apocalypse Now (1979), and Saving Private Ryan (1998), how much is entertainment and how much is rooted in historical fact? In The Columbia Companion to American History on Film, more than seventy scholars consider the gap between history and Hollywood. They examine how filmmakers have presented and interpreted the most important events, topics, eras, and figures in the American past, often comparing the film versions of events with the interpretations of the best historians who have explored the topic.

Divided into eight broad categories-Eras; Wars and Other Major Events; Notable People; Groups; Institutions and Movements; Places; Themes and Topics; and Myths and Heroes-the volume features extensive cross-references, a filmography (of discussed and relevant films), notes, and a bibliography of selected historical works on each subject. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film is also an important resource for teachers, with extensive information for research or for course development appropriate for both high school and college students.

Though each essay reflects the unique body of film and print works covering the subject at hand, every essay addresses several fundamental questions:

What are the key films on this topic?

What sources did the filmmaker use, and how did the film deviate (or remain true to) its sources?

How have film interpretations of a particular historical topic changed, and what sorts of factors-technological, social, political, historiographical-have affected their evolution?

Have filmmakers altered the historical record with a view to enhancing drama or to enhance the "truth" of their putative message?

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Peter C. Rollins is Regents Professor of English and American Film Studies at Oklahoma State University and editor in chief of the scholarly journal, Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies (
Peter C. Rollins is Regents Professor of English and American Film Studies at Oklahoma State University and editor in chief of the magazine Film & History (

This handy collection of 79 essays... should be most helpful as a reference guide for newcomers to film studies, but advanced scholars will also benefit from the historical analyses and interpretations of film texts. Highly recommended.

Rollins's reference allows readers to appreciate films in context, enhancing the experience. Film buffs will find the mix of history and cinematic analysis captivating, while historians will be intrigued by the book's analysis of popular culture.Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly

This work flows well and would make a wonderful addition to any YA collection. It would benefit students interested in film production, history, or political's just plain fun to thumb through.
School Library Journal - John Keifman

It provides a solid introduction to many of the major themes of American history on film, and students will undoubtedly find it a very useful source.
Screening the Past - Michael Paris

This is an excellent print source. This Columbia Companion that Rollins has crafted is highly recommended.
American Reference Books Annual - Jim Agee

Rollins' book truly deserves to be called a standard work.... Not only is The Columbia Companion to American History on Film a must-read for students and scholars of film studies but also in other fields like history, English, or American studies.
Literatur in Wissencraft und Unterricht

The Columbia Companion to American History on Film is yet another impressive volume on film and history edited by Peter C. Rollins.
Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television - Leen Engelen

[Rollins] is to be praised for his splendid accomplishment, and each reader of the essays will congratulate himself or herself for having found the collection.Journal of American Culture
Journal of American Culture - Ray B. Browne

Offers a wealth of significant material that is extremely informative and entertaining for film scholars, teachers, and film buffs alike.
Journal of Popular Culture - Carol E. Mitchell

The useful background information will greatly enhance one's view of historical movies.
FGS Forum - Paul Milner

Keyword Index
United States - In motion pictures.|United States - History - Miscellanea.
Country of Publication
United States
Number of Pages

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