Argo and the Search for Historical Authenticity

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock since the Oscars, you’ve heard about the controversies surround Argo’s (lack of) historical accuracy. Whether it’s Iran threatening to sue Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Canada feeling relegated to postscript of history, or most recently the parliament in New Zealand motioning that Affleck “saw fit to mislead the […]

Argo and the Search for Historical Authenticity

soundonsight:

For fans of Game of Thrones – The House of the Undying and Serious Repercussions

When adapting a book into the visual medium, there are items that need to be cut. It’s as simple as that. Usually the first thing to go is internalized dialogue (e.g. The Hunger Games) and Game of Thrones is no stranger to that. In the first season of Game of Thrones, information which many fans consider to be the most important subtext in the books is cut in the scenes of Ned Stark’s imprisonment. This internal dialogue and memory could have been shown in flashback and I wonder how later events of the series will progress without this information (or how they will communicate it in the future). What’s more interesting (and increasingly relevant as we approach the premiere of Season 3) is what happened in Season 2 Episode 10, “Valar Morghulis,” as Daenerys Targaryen entered the House of the Undying in search of her stolen dragons and the prophetic visions not shown in the series.

So let’s summarize Dany’s exploits in the episode. She gets the tower and enters the House of the Undying. She first goes through a door that takes her to the Throne room in King’s landing. The ceiling is demolished and the winter snow is falling all around the Iron Throne. While she feels called to sit upon the throne, the call of her stolen dragons breaks her away and takes her beyond the gate of the Wall. As she walks through the thick snow, she comes across the tent where she gave birth (from Season 1) wherein she sees the dead Drogo and her stillborn child. They romanticize for a bit and she leaves again at the call of her dragons who she finds in the next room, chained to a stone table. Pyat Pree (the creepy looking priest) starts taunting Dany, chains her up, and threatens to imprison her forever. Then Dany sets her dragons on the guy and he falls down in dragon fire. None of this is terribly prophetic and while the moment with Drogo is quite touching, the whole scene is very inconsequential.

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These Amazing Shadows

★★★★/★★★★

This will be a slightly different review than many of my others in that I will be talking about much of this film in the first person. A special presentation was put on tonight at my university by the directors (Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton)of the documentary These Amazing Shadows. The film premiered at Sundance and toured the festival circuit in 2011 and thanks to the Laurier Film Society; we got a screening with the directors. While this is not the kind of controversial documentary that gets around the awards circuit, it demonstrates the love and importance of film like few films do.

These Amazing Shadows is a documentary that chronicles the history and implementation of the National Film Registry. Since 1989, the U.S. National Film Preservation Board selects 25 films to be held and preserved in the Library of Congress. From its inception during the debate over Ted Turner’s “colorization” of classic films, the Board has taken to looking at the cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance of classic films. From early examples of the technology to home movies to classic cinema to new classics, the Board looks at film and its place as the art form of the 20th century. As is said in the film, when scientists of the future look back at our civilization, they will look to our motion pictures for information.

The reason that this documentary is special is that it shows society’s love of film, pure and simple. It is a celebration of the essential documentation of society that has taken place over the past hundred years. It gives us home movies that document the simple lives of folk in the small town of Cologne, Minnesota (Cologne, 1939). It shows us how film can document tragic periods of America’s past (Topaz, 1945; Zapruder film, 1963). It shows us the power of film as propaganda (Why We Fight, 1943; Birth of a Nation, 1915). It demonstrates how we see ourselves and how we see our society and it captivates us all with its beauty and drama and tragedy and love.

There are problems with this film, but the biggest one was that I was captivated. Normally my sense of the quality of a film comes (at least in part) from its ability to distract me with its faults. And while there were a few, it really didn’t matter. This film and all of the people interviewed were giving me a poetic explanation and justification for why I am a film student. Film communicates emotion. It allows us to hear the feelings of individuals from decades and now centuries past in a very real way. We laugh at their jokes and cry at their hardships and understand the universality of humanity. It reinvigorated my love of film in a way that few films do, and for that I will always love it.