Many people relate to and learn about historical people, places, and events through film. And, even though many historians love to kvetch about the historical inaccuracies of films that portray the past, we simply cannot ignore the fact that the public interacts with and learns about history primarily through film. What we can do instead is talk about the events of the past represented in film and use that dialogue as a place of learning. As life-long students of both film and history, we searched for an interactive resource that not only explores the relationship between film and history, but also starts a conversation and provides interaction; yet, nothing expansive or truly interactive exists. Therefore, a small group of passionate friends got together and created FilmStory.
How can I use FilmStory?
FilmStory invites you to have a sense of exploration and curiosity as you explore the relationship between history and film. FilmStory is a place where you can mine and interpret layers of historical information for yourself. What stories are important to a particular nation's history? Investigate by looking at those tales that have been told and retold by multiple generations. How were those stories reinterpreted each time they were re-made – or were they? (Tip: check out how often Cleopatra has been re-made. Why do you think that is?) How do familiar faces such as Romeo and Juliet or Japan's samurai warriors fare when their stories are interpreted by different cultures? Look beyond a film's depiction of history and explore the history of the film itself. What does it tell you about the times in which it was made? (For example, behold John Wayne's portrayal of Chinggis "Genghis" Khan in The Conqueror.) Click around, explore, uncover, discover, and discuss.
Why don't I see this or that important historical film in the database?
FilmStory is continually adding new films and updating existing content. If you don't see a film that you think should be a part of FilmStory, please let us know and we'll take a look.
Why aren't there more films from this or that country?
We tried to cover the globe, but remember that film production varies greatly from country to country and not all countries produce films. Additionally, so far we have focused mainly on including films that have been subtitled into English (or were filmed in English). If you see an important film missing please drop us a line.
How can I be a part of FilmStory?
We are always looking for new film entries and informed, historically sound essays. If you are interested in writing a short essay on the historical points, context, and accuracy of a film, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your resume/CV and a short, relevant writing sample.
How were the eras, regions, and subjects determined?
History does not "break" evenly into periods and categories; boundaries change, cultures shift, migrations occur. There are tides and seasons in which everything, everywhere seems to be in flux, and others in which nothing seems to have changed for centuries. Most boundaries and categorizations, whether political or chronological, are artificial and subjective. We spent hours upon hours working on FilmStory's terms, and in the end simply made the best-informed decisions we could.
For chronology, we chose time periods that provided broad, inclusive eras not focused on any particular cultural timeline. To create the list of regions, we used the United Nations (UN) recognition and categorization of nation states. We then took an analytical look at categorization for film subjects and grouped them into a meaningful, cohesive, and manageable list. If you have suggestions or thoughts about any of these categories, let us know. We value historical discourse and love expanding our own understanding of the past.
Why are some films without a poster image?
The very few films that don't have images on FilmStory were, quite simply, those for which we could not find any image resources. We relied heavily on the wonderful and extensive Movie Poster Database, which has a lot, but not everything. If you have access to a film poster that we don't have, please upload it to the Movie Poster Database and send us the link.
What is FilmStory going to look like in a few months?
As you read this, we are hard at work improving, updating, and expanding FilmStory. Future versions will include more interactive features, short historical essays, resources, and more. As we continue to expand, our history and film experts will cover keys aspects of the film's historical interpretations. And, of course, we are always adding more films to the website every week. If you have any comments or suggestions about what you'd like to see for the future of FilmStory, tell us here.
Are the films I find on FilmStory readily available to view or buy?
One goal from the beginning of this project was to promote the access to, viewing of, and purchasing of the films featured on FilmStory. You should be able to locate the films featured on FilmStory through online sources, DVDs, WorldCat, or local film rental stores. We will be working to promote and highlight these sources for each film so that film- and history-lovers around the world can see more great films.
You are doing great work! How can I contribute to FilmStory?
As previously stated, we are a small group of passionate people working hard (many nights and weekends) to make FilmStory successful. FilmStory is a labor of love, but we'd like to figure out a way to dedicate ourselves to FilmStory full time. If you are able and willing to contribute funds to help us bring more features and content to the website faster, we would be most grateful and welcome all such correspondence at email@example.com.