The assignment: Choose 2-3 films that make good comparisons and contrasts with your film for specific reasons that you choose and articulate and write one paragraph about each film in that regard.
Rationale: People in film courses might be studying a genre, or a historical period, or a historical movement, or contrasting different directors. People in American Studies courses might want to know how a certain historical subject was viewed in different time periods or how other film-makers approached the same or a similar issue. A key concept in our study is that histories are made, that there are multiple interpretations. So, an obvious student assignment in the classroom context we envision for using our site is a comparison and contrast one. Facilitate that by suggesting some good films to work with. Invite thinking about provocative contexts.
Things to think about: What other films on the same subject have been done? What films are there that give a different slant on the same or a similar subject? Are there other films by the same director that would be relevant? What companion films naturally come to mind? In other words, what family or genre of films does yours belong to? What films did contemporary reviewers or scholars that you read compare it to?
Help: Consider the following if you are stuck.
- See our list of Films about American History.
- There are many books in the selected bibliography that are compendiums of films by historical period or theme. See especially Peter Rollins's Columbia History, but also books by Pitts, Cameron, Roquemore, Niemi, Stevens, Vankin, Bolam, Karsten, Tracey, etc., etc.
A wider net: For the most part the films on this site are based on
"reality," that is, they have an actual and specific historical
source. But in this section you can think a bit more broadly if
you want. For instance, you could include films that are on a
general historical subject or period but not based on specific
historical "reality" --
that is, not based on real people or real events -- like Grapes
of Wrath about the Depression or Easy Rider about
the 60s. Once again, the bibliographies can be very helpful here.
Format: Name of film followed by its date in parentheses on the first line. Skip a line and then begin your paragraph. Put films in alphabetical order.
Advice: In your description be as specific and as suggestive as you can about why bringing this film together with your film would be illuminating, about why it would help us understand how history is constructed. Be explicit about the reason you picked the film. In a sense, "argue" for the value of putting the films side by side. What can be learned by doing so?
Additional films: In many cases, we hope you will have more than 2-3 relevant films. In that situation, simply add a list of other films in alphabetical order with dates in parentheses. If there is a pertinent resource, for instance, be sure to give it: a web site on Vietnam war films, an article on baseball films, etc., etc.