A look at life, and life’s lessons from a small college campus
Today, there are more films available to us than we can realistically see in a reasonable amount of time. Going to the mainstream theaters, we tend to see the blockbuster films with A-list actors, however, if those are the only films we see, we miss many of the smaller gems that really are the heart of film-making. They’re not always perfect. The production value may be slightly off from time to time, but they often reflect the actual human condition so much better than the big budget films.
The Historian, is an independent film, starring William Sadler as Professor Hadley (The Shawshank Redemption, IronMan 3), John Cullum as Professor Hadley’s father (Northern Exposure, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), Miles Doleac as Professor Ben Rhodes, and Jillian Taylor as Anna, the grad student. You might not recognize their names right off the bat although, as you can see from the list, they’ve been in major films and TV shows; but you will undoubtedly recognize most of them from their photos. Each one brought a character to life in The Historian, and together brought small slices of history alive along with the story of life in a small college town.
What happens to us as we go through life depends largely on the lessons that we learn from those around us. The lessons learned in The Historian are peppered throughout the film, and most of them have little to do with book learning. Whether it’s learning why Professor Fletcher has his diploma in his closet, how to value the memories of a father afflicted with Alzheimers, when you can be yourself while simultaneaously being Hannibal, or what the price is to move past some of the other curveballs that life throws at you so that you can live your life; The Historian has more to teach than you might expect.
A quirky over-the-top performance by Colin Cunningham (Falling Skies, Stargate SG-1) adds a touch of the light side of humanity throughout some otherwise serious films which might have gone flat without his presence. He ends up being the weird friend of your brother, or odd uncle that shows up at parties, funerals, and other functions; but despite his mischief, he’s a friend that teaches you how to connect to other people. I have to admit when he first appeared in the film, I wasn’t sure that I liked his character interrupting the storyline. By the end of The Historian, however, you realize that just as much as the other characters in this microcosm of University life, he IS the story as well.
There are painful moments in this film, not all of which people will agree on. The idea that a female grad student should not report a sexual assault because of the probable repercussions will undoubtedly polarize many discussions around the script. But one of the things that I like about The Historian is that there are so many interesting discussions that will arise from watching it.
The Historian would be a fascinating film to screen in an Ethics class at the university level, because there are so many ethical conflicts, decisions, and vulnerabilities within the story. How would you handle them, is fodder for discussion after you see the movie.
If you get a chance, The Historian is a film to seek out at your independent movie theater, or perhaps in the future on NetFlix. Watch it with friends, the pour a glass of wine, a cup of hot chocolate, or a batch of sodas, depending on your age and beverage of choice, and have a discussion about life. I think you will find there is much to discuss.
This film will be opening at THE QUAD in NYC on Friday, November 28th, 2014
- MLA style
- Cynthia Kirkeby, “The Historian.” Point Of View Reviews- Movie reviews by DW Kirkeby, and more, from ClassBrain's Movies in the Classroom. 7 November 2014, 15:28 UTC. . 27 Feb 2017 <http://pointofviewreviews.com/the-historian/>.
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- Cynthia Kirkeby, “The Historian.” Point Of View Reviews- Movie reviews by DW Kirkeby, and more, from ClassBrain's Movies in the Classroom, http://pointofviewreviews.com/the-historian/ [accessed February 27, 2017].