Movies That Changed Us

By Jan Haman, Arts Coordinator

"That movie changed my life!" How often have we heard that bit of hyperbole? Hopefully, my film courses elicit such a response. This year I offered three courses that blend cinema and history, often shifting perceptions about race, religion, politics, and sometimes the very definition of humanity.
In the Shadow of Wounded Knee is a course focused on history of the Sioux Indians and their journey along the Trail of Tears, from proud self-sufficiency to devastating genocide, from mid-nineteenth century to the present. A film that did change my life, and sent me on the path to create this course is "Incident At Oglala." That, and other special films such as "Skins," "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," "Dances With Wolves," "Lakota Woman," and "Thunderheart," all contribute significant insight into the story of the Oglala Sioux.
In the class History by Hollywood, students view a wide range of important films that portray historical events and issues. They are asked to analyze each film for directorial bias while debating the issues efficacy of such films as "JFK," "Primary," "All the President's Men," "The U.S. vs. John Lennon," "Bonnie and Clyde," and "Invictus" (which coincided with the death of Nelson Mandela.) Students quickly became immersed in the Sixties, the Vietnam War, the Depression and the Kennedy years, as well as Apartheid and South Africa.
In Cinema Studies: Humanities in Motion, students experience movies that have touched the collective soul of the public with passion and artistic skill, and in many cases actually transformed the way films are made and viewed. In our global repertoire of great films are "The Bicycle Thief," "Cinema Paradiso," "On the Waterfront," "Raise High the Red Lantern," "Marty," "The Namesake," "Chop Shop," "Man Push Cart," and  "The Godfather."
Students in these courses practice reading and writing film criticism, have reenacted events such as the famous Sioux trials, have made their own short films, interpreted a film via another creative media (i.e. dance, art, music) and become familiar with the wide breadth of international film choices. Have these films changed us? I hope so!

Dublin School

Dublin School, Schoolhouse Rd, Dublin, NH, 03444, United States