A recycling of motifs - narrative, visual and musical - can be found in the Hollywood historical film which contributes to what Alison Landberg calls a ‘prosthetic memory,’ the memory of an historical event that has been accrued through the consumption of mass media texts. This manufacturing of memory for those who did not witness the historical event is found no more evidently than in the American Civil War film. Motifs and narrative conventions in these films come to stand in as tangible manifestations of memory of this significant event. Over the course of more than a century of filmmaking, a consensus memory of the Civil War has emerged comprising of sectional iconography, narrative clichés, heroic deeds and accepted mythologies about the war’s causes. This chapter argues that this consensus memory operates as an ideological project working to educate American viewers as to their ‘natural,’ national identity. It argues that one key film, The Beguiled (Don Siegel, 1971), works to disrupt the consensus memory of the Civil War by presenting fully rounded, primary players in the war narrative who own entirely Un-American values and behaviours.
|Title of host publication||Reconfiguring the Union: Civil War Transformations|
|Editors||Iwan W. Morgan, Philip J. Davies|
|Place of Publication||New York|
|Number of pages||244|
|Publication status||Published - Aug 2013|
|Name||Studies of the Americas|