Positive and Negative Effects of History in Film and Book of Amistad
The film and the book by Jones show how African blacks, who got seized by slave traders, earned their liberty and returned to their homeland. The story revolves around Cuba, America, and Spain. It talks about an event in 1849 that involved Amistad, a Spanish slave ship which got used in the transfer of slaves to the Caribbean. The African slaves revolted against their captors and they ended up killing all except three, the cabin boy, and the two owners of the slaves. The commandeered the ship and forced one of their captors to lead them to their homeland, Sierra Leone, Africa. The captain tricked them and change directions in the night. They finally found themselves in Long Island, American Coast. The slave ship belonged to Spain and when words reached Queen Isabella in Spain of the whereabouts of one of their ships, she requested for the ship and the slaves. A controversy boiled over the fate of the slaves. Two people on board claimed that the slaves belonged to them. According to Spain and America, slave traded had become illegal. While in Connecticut, the slaves got arrested. President John Quincy Adams was in favor of the slaves and called for their release. The judge of U.S Supreme Court, who presided over the cases, freed the slaves and found the claimants guilty of illegal trade. The slaves got freedom to stay in America or return home.
History has the option of being taught using textbooks in the classroom or showing movies on the various books used for studying history. Showing movies is very important because it helps students learn and keep factual information in textbooks that associate with those movies (Bingham 78). Information in the textbook must have consistent with that shown in the movie. However, some movies have episodes or lines different from those that the book they are based on hash. Research shows that watching a film related to a certain textbook, increases students recall of various events by about 50% in comparison with reading the text alone. On the contrary, when the information presented in a film contradict with that present in its relative book, people get tempted to recall the misinformation in the movie (Osagie 4). The power of movies is that they have stronger retention capacity than that of textbooks. Similarly, the recall of misinformation portrayed in the movie still has a 50% capacity of the time. In order to supplement or enhance educational practice, teachers have the responsibility of guarding students against the negative effects of movies that portray contradicting information from those of their relative books. Research shows that people still get subjected to misinformation even if they get briefed about it before watching the movie. However, when warnings get specified about particular inaccuracies get shown before watching the film, the effect of misinformation end.
Films increases interest and learning in a classroom environment. Teachers and other stakeholders in learning must know that students are susceptible to inaccurate information even if the right information is present in the text . These have problems for the normal educational practices of utilizing movies as a teaching aid. The public also faces these problems as they consume popular movies or films on history. Good films add interest in history and have a lot of information which is accurate. Film producers usually compromise on some facts in the text so that the movie presents a more entertaining story than that in the text. This is what has subjected many movies to inaccuracies as learners are keener on the content of the movie and not the entertaining part. The film Amistad and its corresponding textbook, Mutiny on The Spanish Ship Amistad, show incongruence. The film displays some inaccuracies that misrepresent the textbook. One instance of misinformation presents itself when the film shows Cinque, the leading protagonist, sitting in shackles before U.S Supreme Court as the trial progressed. According to the textbook, Cinque was in prison when the trial was going on. On a general point of view, most information present in the movie and the textbook is similar. In fact, for a non-critical reader, it is difficult to notice the difference any misinformation present in the movie. In all, the movie clearly represents the textbook.
The film revolves between mushy Hollywood platitudes and stoic political correctness. The movie has too much history in it. The much history in the film makes the movie lack a strong flow. The diffuse in nature as it divides its powers among various aspects. It displays the pain and queer experiences that the captives faced during their struggle for liberty under captors (Jones 78). It also brings into effect the U.S presidential elections that were around the corner and legal representatives who argued about the destiny of the 53 African slaves. History is not more diffuse and complex than movies. People have the liberty of choosing characters in their own capacities. For instance, a character like Lewis Tappan gets picked and followed for his best efforts to bring an end to slavery. Some pro-slavery rowdies ransacked his house in New York and burned in furniture. He had the heart of goodness and justice for all. The spirit of liberty ran in his blood.
The correctness of the courts that administered the ruling for the African captives is questionable in the minds of many pro-slavery people (Davis 21). Some people say that there are no laws in America that try foreigners for their crime. The crime depicted in the movies was that of killing the captors who boarded the slave ship headed for the Caribbean. Some propose that the court should have proposed a sale of the slaves based on their market values. Others feel that New York, and not Connecticut, was the best place for the trial (Sanello 34).
The book and the film for sure have their own advantages and disadvantages as media for propagating knowledge. Films have the inherent ability of developing interest in students for the story. Most filmmakers add or subtract some content from the original sources or documents that movies base on to meet their aims. Less interesting films are less watched and hence their markets are poor. Filmmakers try their best so that they avoid problems. There are things that make movies eye-catching and endearing (York 9). This involved episodes full of suspense and tension. For them to meet such effects in their movies, filmmakers have to do away with part or add to a section of the story. In so doing, accuracy gets compromised. The realistic representation of the original document is not met. This makes movies unreliable sometimes when looking for information on certain stories. Conversely, books are good sources of information on about particular historical facts. Textbooks are very reliable sources because once published, it is difficult to doctor their content (Morris 34). Moreover, they pass through reviews for accuracy and relevance. Moreover, books are usually the first source of information on certain topics because they get written by those who experienced the facts. Unlike books, movies get information from textbooks, translate and produce similar information through acting. During the process of translation, the original information gets vulnerable to change, and hence a change of meaning. The best source of information on history is books or other recorded documents. Books are also good, but they sometimes mislead students. Movies serve as teaching aids in educational institutions. Looking at the book and the film on which Amistad get based, the book is the original source while the movie derived its content from the book. The film Amistad represents the book well, but there are instances that the books misinform the moviegoer. Warning people against misinformation present in particular sections is very important so that wrong indoctrination of the people ceases.
Another important aspect of the movie or the film Amistad is how it treats slave trade. Slave trade is one aspect of history that the movie displays. Slave trade thrived in the olden days. Slaves from Africa got traded for other products. The transatlantic trade involved sale Africa, US, and Europe. Slaves were taken to plants to work as laborers. Most of those firms were plantations. In the movie and text, Amistad, African slaves got sold to a Spaniard in Cuba and they board a ship to the Caribbean. The 53 Africans on board revolted against their captors on their way to the Caribbean (Bingham 56). They killed all their captors except three. They forced the remaining chapters to lead them to Africa, their homeland. This is a show of how worse slavery was. Slavery was a very bad act during the Trans-Atlantic trade. The African slaves in Amistad serve to display slavery in a way that suggests that it is worse than death. The Africans killed their captors just in search for freedom. Moreover, when the slave ship reached the shore of U.S, some people reacted differently towards slave trade. Some of the residents of Connecticut expected nothing but a sale of the slaves so that they could get a share. Many sharp reactions came from the government of Spain and U.S. Slave trade was illegal. The government of Spain through Queen Isabella, requested a transfer of the slaves and Amistad to Spain. She claimed that the slaves belonged to Spain. Government of U.S said that the slaves could not go to Spain because the slave trade was long banned. President of U.S supported the pleas made by the slaves. He proposed for their release. This was a campaign gimmick for the president. The judge of the U.S Supreme Court, who ruled the case, ruled in the favor of the slaves. This was a show of the end of slave trade in America.
One disadvantage of the movie is that there exist unjustified aspects that it propagates. Murder is very bad. The slaves got charged through partial application of the law. The slaves murdered many captors but went unpunished (Zafiris 89). This is the worst aspect of the movie. The law that got used to punish the two owners of the slave should also apply to the captives. Since the slaves murdered, the government should have charged them with murder. This part of the film displays double standards of the American law.
Given the above two sources of information, as a teacher one should embrace both during teaching. They both add value to education in different ways. For better and better understanding, the film is used as an educational aid. This helps students who had difficulties with class notes understand what was not clear (Schwartz 10). The textbook is the first source of information. This is because it has all the relevant facts that learning the various topics in its need. It has the option of being referenced easily because students carry them anywhere. Movies are only important in supplementing the textbooks. However, movies may misrepresent the original information. Filmmakers usually add or remove some parts of the original information when they are looking for ways that make their movies interesting. Films are also good sources of information but they should warn viewers against any view or aspect of it that is incorrect during their starts.
From the above discussion, it is obvious that books and film make good sources of information. They form the basis of history. Amistad is one good representation of a book and a film that relate. However, the film has some of its parts different from those in the book. This makes it inaccurate. These parts need specification during the start of the movie so that viewers get the correct information. The main advantage of movies is that people have a long retention capacity than those of textbooks. In all, books and films are essential for learning.
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