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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Affleck’

Will they be clinking their glasses at the Oscars?

Will they clink their glasses at the Oscars?

Earlier, I discussed the movies Argo and Lincoln in relation to cross-curricular connections that can be explored through analyses of movies and history.  Since then, there have been many provocative developments that add to the angles to be scrutinized with Argo (including its many major awards and Academy Award nominations).  Some of the most interesting include comparisons of the historical record to the narrative of the movie as well as recent commentary that has been recorded in the press from figures who were involved in the actual events.  Of particular significance are the complete fictions in the movie, such as the chase scene through the airport and while the plane takes off, and the depiction of the roles of the Canadians who sheltered the Americans that had escaped from the embassy in Tehran.

Victor Garber as Ken Taylor and Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez

Victor Garber as Ken Taylor and Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez

Let’s ask ourselves as media investigators: why were these choices made?  Are they valid?  Do the distortions or invented events constitute fraudulence on the part of the filmmakers?  Take into consideration a variety of storytelling and aesthetic decisions in the film – and one I suggest is from the closing credits in which director Ben Affleck and his collaborators inserted historical photos in comparison to images from the movie.  I also recommend recent interviews and reports that feature reactions from the Canadian ambassador, Ken Taylor, and the American President at the time, Jimmy Carter, including these articles from the Associated Press and E!Online.

In my initial blog post, I referenced Canadian journalist Jian Ghomeshi’s article about the depiction of Iran and Iranians in the film, and here is another piece related to Ghomeshi and Argo: an interview with actor Victor Garber who plays Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor.

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Where is the truth and what does media communicate to us? Ben Affleck standing in center with the real-life inspirations for “Argo,” including his character, CIA agent Tony Mendez, on far left (Keegan Bursaw/Embassy of Canada)

In earlier posts, I have discussed possibilities of cross-curricular work with social studies courses and this fall has offered countless examples of further opportunities to use media literacy to enhance learning in social studies classrooms.  Here are related pages from the newseum siteEdutopia, and Frank Baker’s Media Literacy Clearinghouse.  For the media literacy classroom, one of the most interesting aspects of this election was the creation of videos outside of the two campaigns and their dissemination through the Internet, such as the lip-dub treatments of the debates and other comedy pieces such as the gangnam-style parody with a Mitt Romney imitator done for the College Humor site.  At my own school, social studies teacher Mike Barile had his Civics students make their own videos for fictional campaigns (no, not comedy parodies but ones that suggest new approaches to official campaign ads) and they used them for comparison and analysis with current media and historical examples from American presidential races.

Still from Edward Zwick’s 1989 movie “Glory,” from which certain scenes can provide interesting comparison and contrast to “Lincoln”

Among current movies, two releases may provide for interesting discussion and study in either American history or International Studies curricula.  Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln joins the rich trove of Civil War movies that can be used in the classroom, while Ben Affleck’s Argo can be used in relation to studies of the history of Iran and its relations with the United States during the 20th century.  Here is an excellent counterpoint piece written by radio journalist Jian Ghomeshi in response to the depiction of Iranians and the political context of Iran in Argo, while here is a Washington Post article on the real people behind the story of this movie.  For Lincoln, there is an iPad book for the movie that may be useful for teachers.

Speaking about iBooks, in an earlier post about Tim Burton, I talked about his recent movie Frankenweenie.  Disney has released a free iBook for the movie, which is highly recommended.

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