Shadows on the Past

Studies in the Historical Fiction Film

Leger Grindon
Outstanding Academic Title, Choice, 1995
Book Cover

PB: $32.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-182-5
Publication: Jun 94

HC: $69.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-181-8
Publication: Jun 94

Ebook: $32.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0488-6

264 pages
6 x 9
19 halftones

A new genre of film is identified and explored


Studying popular Hollywood films from Gone With the Wind to Reds and such distinguished European films as La Marseillaise and The Rise to Power of Louis XIV, Leger Grindon examines how historical fiction films interpret the present through a representation of the past.

The historical fiction film is characterized by a set of motives and, Grindon argues, deserves to be considered a genre unto itself. Appropriation of historical events can insinuate a film's authority of its subject, veil an intention, provide an escape into nostalgia, or direct a search for knowledge and origins. Utilizing the past as a way of responding to social conflicts in the present, Grindon shows how the genre promotes a political agenda, superseding the influence of scholarship on the public's perception and interpretation of history.


"This book is a unique and significant contribution to scholarship. It is the first work to deal with the historical film in meaningful terms, and will no doubt help to set the terms by which such films will be discussed in the future." —Robert A. Rosenstone, California Institute of Technology

"Thoughtful and detailed, this (is) an excellent work."Choice

Table of Contents

1. Analyzing the Historical Fiction Film
2. The Politics of History: La Marseillaise
3. Hollywood History and the French Revolution: From The Bastille to The Black Book
4. Risorgimento History and Screen Spectacle: Visconti's Senso
5. The Politics of the Spectacle: The Rise to Power of Louis XIV
6. Politics and History in Contemporary Hollywood: Reds

About the Author(s)

Leger Grindon is Assistant Professor of Film and Television Studies at Middlebury College


In the Series

  • Culture and the Moving Image edited by Robert Sklar

    The Culture and the Moving Image series, edited by Robert Sklar, seeks to publish innovative scholarship and criticism on cinema, television, and the culture of the moving image. The series will emphasize works that view these media in their broad cultural and social frameworks. Its themes will include a global perspective on the world-wide production of images; the links between film, television, and video art; a concern with issues of race, class, and gender; and an engagement with the growing convergence of history and theory in moving image studies.