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History through Film: Depicting the Moments of the Past Analytical Essay

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Updated: Mar 17th, 2022

The fact that movies are considered to be one of most powerful art forms appeared in the twentieth century is undeniable because it has had a great impact on many points of view, including historical ones.

With regard to this impact, historical movies are often used to learn more about some facts and events happened in the past (Hughes-Warrington 15). Being an artistic form, however, they can also either exaggerate or deviate from the real historical facts to emphasize a particular idea and make the reader understand the concealed aspects of human history.

Such attempts are also made in such historical dramas as “Kriemhild’s Revenge” (Lang), “El Cid” (Mann), “Alexander Nevsky” (Eisenstein), and “Krzyzacy” (Ford) that also focus on the role of female figures in presenting national identities. Across different cultures, all movies disclose women’s great courage and fidelity while protecting the lives of their bellowed.

Being driven by love and desire to secure their families from the enemies’ invasions, they are ready to sacrifice their lives (Hughes-Warrington 15).

More importantly, female figures are depicted as much more passionate and aggressive in achieving their goals comparing to their male companions who seem to be more reasonable, composed and strategic. Therefore, this dimension of historical representation provide a different outlook on the role of women in war.

Female’s affiliation to their beloved makes them more vulnerable to outside factors and less resistant to the aggression surrounding them. They do not see any obstacle on the way to rescuing their husbands. Particular attention deserves Fritz Lang’s film called Kriemhild’s Revenge (Lang) where the main heroine embodies hostile feelings of isolation, helplessness, and despair. Kriemhild is overwhelmed with her desire to take revenge on her husband; her resoluteness and inflexibility assist her in reaching the goals.

Along with her courage, Kriemhild still resorts to her incredible beauty using it as a powerful weapon against enemies. Great ambitions and fortitude is also revealed in other movies, particularly in Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein) where females are ready to sacrifice their lives while rescuing their husbands who were seriously wounded during the fight.

The director of the movie provides a number of scenes depicting women fighting equally with men, which is not revealed in reality. Using such an approach, he has managed to support the idea that women’s wisdom, selflessness, and strength of will served as a solid ground for men to stand on.

Olga Danilovna, from Novgorod, personifies all those features and can be considered as a stereotypical representation of Slavonic women. However, Eisenstein’s heroine seems to be more lenient and latent in her desire being more followed by men.

Despite visual predominance of males, female characters are more inclined to influence men’s decisions and actions. Moreover, they serve as the triggers taking control of men and directing their powers.

At the same time, movie’s heroines understand they are powerless and unspoken in front of hero’s confrontations because they believe they have the right to decide their women’s fates who still dominate in lives of warriors.

However, comparing the national and psychological representation of domination, feministic tendencies are more explicitly revealed in Lang’s and Ford’s picture where the main heroine are the one who predict future development of the events in the movies. In particular, Jagienka Zychowna the leading character in Kryzacy (Ford) makes the hero promise her to bring the trophies from the fight with the Teutonic Knights.

Hence, the heroine can be considered as the one who ignites the rigid confrontation because she is the reason for starting the fight. The decisive role is also taken by Krimhield who also manages to manipulate the warriors and make them perform all her requests.

In contrast to feminist movements as presented in the movies above, El Cid enlarges on the concealed role of female heroines that are often governed by filling of fidelity and selflessness toward their bellowed. Jemina, Don Rodriguez remains adamant in face dangers and risk she encounters while staying with her husband. She is guided by her love and respect for his husband, which makes her more determined and confidents in the necessity to follow her husband.

In this respect, Jemina represents as a Spanish stereotype because considers honor and nobility to be the highest priority and violating these cultural and moral values means a death for them. Jemina decides to enter a convent when she realizes that she is unlikely to stay in marriage with El Cid.

Such morals values as nobility and courage, fidelity and nobility, pride and selfless are expressed in the repetitive patterns of the movie.

All heroines are really pride; they consider their honor more valuable than their lives. All heroines also believe that revenge is the only means to compensate the death of their beloved. However, the ways the female characters understand revenge contrast significantly.

In Krimhield’s Revenge, Lang proposes a more severe and cruel representations of the heroine anger and desire to avenge. In particular, Krimhield prefers using more radical methods and direct male strength against each other.

Similarly, Alexander Nevsky also proves females’ power through their ability to manipulate males’ actions. In particular, Olga Danilovna’s beauty becomes the main reason for initiating the duel between

Gavrillo and Vasily who are engaged in the rigorous fight known as the Battle on the Ice to decide which of them deserves Olga’ hand. Krzyzacy (1960) contains similar plot lines where the main hero is forced to initiate the fight because of Jagienka’s desire to take revenge on her mother’s death. In El Cid, Jemina Diaz also resorts to all possible means to be loyal to her goals and moral values.

In spite of the fact heroines strive to different goals while taking revenge, they are still more attached to their own moral positions and cultural values. Cultural affiliation is still seen in their behavior and intentions to protect their land and dignity that are prior to their lives.

In other worlds, the directors have made an attempt at revealing women’s independence from male reign, which is often concealed by history. Perceiving the historical events through from the female point of view allows the viewers to cognize the ambiguous and unknown events from the history and to understand the role of women in course of war.

In addition, the authors has also managed to successfully render how the heroines contribute to changing the male’s deeds and decisions as well as prove how helpless they can be in the face of women’s powers. For instance, Alexander Nevsky explicitly demonstrates how women act and contribute to creating terrible and grand drama.

Representing the thirteen century area and the times of Teutonic Knights, the director also convey the hardship that women had to overcome when their husbands are away; they often served as an object for revenge for enemies who tortured women whose men fight against them. Despite them, women are still presented not as martyr who had to pay off for men’s mistake, but as brave, desperate women with resolute feature who are ready to fight straight and protect their family’s honor.

Hence, when Nevsky starts a glorious fight, all warriors rise together with Vasilisa fighting equally with men. She, therefore, is an example of a traditional Russian woman who embodies the spirit of the Russian mentality and spirituality; she can be called as a mother fight and freedom.

In conclusion, all the movies under consideration make the viewers realize that actual role of historic movies in depicting the moments from the past. In particular, the film directors do not pursue the idea to convey all historical facts accurately, but to emphasize a particular historic thought or dimensions that has been carefully concealed in historical textbooks.

In this respect, all the movies focus on the role of female figures in forming the national and cultural identify with particular reference to their moral and ethical values, their understanding of such concepts of honor, pride, independence, and freedom.

First of all, they express these outlooks through great fidelity to their men, and selflessness and readiness to sacrifice for whom they love and respect.

Second, directors also decide to present some feministic and matriarchic tendencies in representing female stereotypes as perceived in different countries. Finally, they also strive to convey women’s strength and concealed domination over the main, their resolute features that are disclose throughout all national identities.

Works Cited

Eisenstein, Sergei. dir. Alexander Nevsky Mosfilm, Soviet Uninion, 1938. Film.

Ford, Alexander. dir. Kryzacy. Zespol Filmowy, Poland. 1960. Film

Hughes-Warrington, Marnie. History on Film Reader. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Lang, Fritz. dir. Krimhield’s Revenge. Decla-Discop, UFA, 1924.Film.

Mann, Anthony. dir. El Cid. Allied Artists, USA, 1961. Film.

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1. IvyPanda. "History through Film: Depicting the Moments of the Past." March 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-through-film/.


IvyPanda. "History through Film: Depicting the Moments of the Past." March 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-through-film/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "History through Film: Depicting the Moments of the Past." March 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-through-film/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'History through Film: Depicting the Moments of the Past'. 17 March.

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