Being able to interpret history goes beyond just reading books and articles. Many today look at cultural outlets like films, music, magazines, and other forms of entertainment to get a better understand of how societies presented and understood issues of the day. These could be salutary portrayals or subversive criticisms. For this assignment you will choose of the films listed below or the television series and write a paper analyzing the film based on the questions provided for each one. The three films are provided in Canvas in the Pages Tab, however you will have to find The Twilight Zone episodes on your own; they are available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, amongst other sources.
Essays should be no shorter than 750 words and preferably no longer than 1000. You must use at least three sources to bolster your arguments including but not limited to class readings, film reviews, academic articles (check JSTOR and Google Scholar), or websites [for websites please consult with me in advance on their validity]. Your papers will be in MLA format with 1 inch margins, double-spaced, in 12 pt Times New Roman font and include citations for your sources. Please use Chicago Style citation with footnotes and a works cited page, including citations for lines taken from the movie. Remember to consider the time period in which each film was made and how each comments upon their respective time period.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and is ranked as one of the best American films ever made according to the American Film Institute as well as the Internet Movie Database. Write an analysis of the filmâ€™s depiction of the anxieties of returning veterans and difficulties of post-war demobilization. In your analysis consider the following questions to guide you: What are the problems the three leads face in adjusting to peacetime American society? Consider how one is married with children and relatively wealthy, the other is married to a wartime bride he hardly knew and works a lower-class job, and one is physically disabled from the war. What are things that have changed since they have been away and what are some of their barriers to doing what they want after serving their country? Does this film give a hopeful impression of the future for returning veterans and the United States?
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) is a film about someone who would be considered an “organization man” one whose loyalty to his company and demands with keeping up an image of success and prosperity lead to difficulties in his personal life. Memories of the war and his past are another factor that haunt him and haunted numerous others in 1950s society, implying a deeper mark of the conflict on those who fought it. Write an analysis of how the film presents or deconstructs the “Organization Man” of the 1950s. Consider the following questions when writing your analysis: How does this film present the â€œorganization manâ€ complacency of the time with Tom, his boss, and their families? What pressures does the main character Tom have in his life and why is he not satisfied with his life when he seems to have everything that 1950s society advertised for happiness? Do you think the film is supporting or indicting the image of the happy American suburban family life of the 1950s? Does it endorse or criticize American business life of the day?
Advise and Consent (1962) is a film about political intrigue that was advertised as being â€œripped straight from the headlines.â€ Analyze the film’s depiction of American politics in the early 1960s and describe how it depicts certain political movements and ideologies of the time. Consider these questions in your analysis. How does the show the influence of the Red and Lavender Scares on American politics. How does the Red Scare and the fear of looking soft to the Soviet Union affect certain congressmenâ€™s views? For example, Leftingwell being asked if he is an â€œeggheadâ€ or how he would negotiate with the Soviet Union? How is the fear of homosexual inversion or being found out addressed and portrayed? What overall impression does the film give of the American government? I recommend using scenes, characters from the film, and real life events that influenced the film to bolster your answers.
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) was a landmark series in the history of television that continues to influence storytellers into today. Throughout its five-year run from 1959 to 1964 it told tales that shocked, surprised, frightened and even enlightened audiences. However, it was indubitably a show od its time with several episodes showcasing the fears, anxieties, and flaws in ideology prevalent in American Cold War logic. For your essay analyze three of the six episodes of the Twilight Zone listed â€“ â€œThe Monsters are Due on Maple Street,â€ â€œThird from the Sun,â€ â€œA Stope at Willoughby,â€ â€œThe Shelter,â€ â€œTwo,â€ and â€œFour Oâ€™Clockâ€ â€“ on how they critique Cold War influenced notions that dominated thought in the United States at the time including the Red Scare, social conformity, and Mutually Assured Destruction. Write an essay on which themes the episodes have in common or how three episodes display three different anxieties common to the 1950s-1960s, Cold War context.
Eric Foner. Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History. Sixth Edition, Volume 2 (W.W. Norton, 2019)
Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty! An American History. Volume 2 (Norton 2014)