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Back to 2014_05_28_FYL_Quien sepa algo de Gandhi que no lo haya visto en el cine, que levante la mano

"Anyone who knows anything about Gandhi who hasn't seen him in the movies, raise your hand."

seminar of the GIHRE on new ways of making and telling history.

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The Full Professor Julio Montero is a specialist in the relationship between History and Cinema. PHOTO: Manuel Castells
28/05/14 08:44 Fina Trèmols

Julio MonteroFull Professor of Journalism at the Complutense University of Madrid directed last May 26th a seminar of professors organized by the group of research in Recent History (GIHRE) of the University of Navarra.

The culture of the image, cinema and video games have changed the way history is made and told. The audiovisual confronts a fundamentally literary concept of history. The concept of "written history" is somewhat redundant; what is done in writing history is to corner the oral tradition to the point of turning it into myth or fable. The meaning of history has changed and it is necessary to resort to the rationalization of the past, which confronts a society that can read, but in fact does not.

Does written history have a future in an audiovisual society? Is it possible to write history through audiovisual stories? What are the new ways of making history in the audiovisual society? Nobody denies that cinema is a historical source , but can the audiovisual media present a historical speech ? If the answer is yes, the question is to see how they do it.

Cinema is not rational, it is based on feeling. The spectator cannot have doubts as to why what happens happens happens; the historian rarely asks himself this question: he explains why something happens, he appeals to contexts. Cinema does not deduce, it speaks with the logic of the heart, not of the head. The radical difference lies in the rational and emotional construction of speech; emotions are very important because they make us understand the value of micro-stories. Rationality kills the drama.

In any case, history in images exists and it seems to work. The story of Isabella the Catholic has come to us in 26 chapters. Thanks to this, millions of people have learned who she was. The same happens with Gandhi, for example: "whoever knows something about him who has not seen him in the movies, raise your hand," joked Professor Montero.

History has been present in audiovisual stories and yet historians have not been called to this discussion, although he understands that it is difficult: they need a training in audiovisual production. Julio Montero misses a historical critique of the films.

During the question and answer session, the idea that the purpose of history is to explain, to understand, to know, to discuss came up. There are many ways of doing history; the cinema financial aid to understand a process and contributes knowledge.