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How Costumes in Historical Films Tell the Story and Share Insights into Our Past and Present
By Nicole O’Connell

When viewing films set in the past, audiences must feel as though they have been transported to another time. Audiences watch films to temporarily escape their own lives and learn about the lives of others; they want to be immersed in the story whether it be an ancient battle, a medieval court scandal, or, in the case of 12 Years a Slave, fraudulent enslavement on a Southern plantation. While many elements contribute to this immersion in the past, the use of costumes is an essential one. Unlike architecture and furniture styles that can also provide clues to the timeframe, fashion changes much more frequently, so it holds more significance when attempting to recreate a historical atmosphere. Owing to many different reasons...
How We Define a “Classic”
By Molly Barrett

Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, and The Godfather all epitomize “Classic” film. Twelve Years a Slave, acknowledged for its distinct cinematic accomplishments and unflinching portrayal of the U.S. domestic slave trade, has already been dubbed an “instant classic” by some critics. Many historical films have also earned the Classic label. This essay looks at the question of why such historical films as Gone with the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath, Apocalypse Now, and now, possibly, 12 Years a Slave, have earned this prestigious recognition and how they contribute to our collective knowledge of the past.