POPULAR CINEMA AND HUMANITIES. NORTH AMERICAN RECENT HISTORY AND THE MEANINGS OF ITS DEPICTION IN FORREST GUMP (ROBERT ZEMECKIS, 1994)
University of the Basque Country (SPAIN)
In our educational context, the teaching of humanities still has a large unexplored field with many possibilities. I am talking about the mass produced culture, particularly the audio-visual. In fact, in this presentation I am going to explain a basic guide to use an historical movie in order to explore and discuss about certain key aspects of the recent western History. This way, my proposal aims to provide a useful and fruitful alternative, to help students and teacher to take advantage of the enormous potential that cinema has.
The film on which I propose to work is Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) that performs, from the point of view of the main character that gives its name to the film, a look at the recent history of the United States. In order to help the critical analysis of the movie, we should briefly expound the United States History from 1945 to 1995. In addition, it is desirable to provide students readings to deepen some important aspects in so they can better explain their positions on the subsequent discussion of the possible interpretations of the film.
The interest of this particular film for the classroom is diverse. In our case, we want to emphasize the narrative traveling it proposes directing its (his) particular look on some significant moments in the history of the United States. Specificaaly, we want to explore the narrative and figurative way the film remembers the past. And this will lead us to the second element that we want to work on, which is the one we are most interested in: the present perspective of the film. We are going to focus on its present point of view in order to identify some main ideas of the postmodern thought and era that, as some experts point out, definitely permeated our Western culture after the fall of the Soviet bloc.
The novelty of this proposal is related to different elements. Firsth of all, it is related to how we consider the popular cinema: if we agree that narratives and images are not self-evident we can also accord that analysing them could be very useful to the development of a critical thinking of the students. Secondly, regarding the use of the movies at class, I will propose complementary activities done at the classroom and outside it. Finally, it will help our lessons to acquire a more transversal character, and from the methodology of the cultural studies, our classes could be a meeting point between history, literature, arts, philosophy and anthropology. Related to this last idea, although this proposition is particularly focused on the humanities and history, it can be useful for any of the humanities and social sciences.