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Fact or fiction: does film re-write history? History Film Season 2012 – University of Reading

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Fact or fiction: does film re-write history? History Film Season 2012

Release Date 27 January 2012

A still from the last film in the series, 'Milk'

How do film-makers capture the past for the big screen? Is it possible to be historically accurate whilst engaging with a modern day audience? These are just two of the questions to be posed during the inaugural historical film season at the University of Reading.

In collaboration with Reading Film Theatre, the Department of History is set to showcase four thought-provoking, historical films from a range of genres, beginning with Kenneth Branagh's powerful adaptation of William Shakespeare's Henry V on Wednesday 1 February. Then over the coming weeks, the public can enjoy the 2006 adaptation of The Magic Flute, Julian Temple's The Filth and the Fury and Gus Van Sant's Milk.

Organiser Dr Emma Vickers, from the University's Department of History, said: "Our aim is to open a dialogue between film, historians and the general public, exploring the relationship between film and how history has been depicted for public viewing.  Each screening will begin with an introduction from one of our leading academics, where we will discuss the film's historical context, how history has been captured for a general audience and give reflections on the historical accuracy of the film.

"We have chosen these historically retrospective works from four different genres, (a play, an opera, a documentary and a contemporary biopic), for their ground-breaking style, and their ability to capture the imagination. Following the screening, we really want to hear from our audience to spark a lively debate about popular film's ability to educate and engage the general public about important moments in history."

View the full film listing on the Department of History's website >>>

Tickets cost £6 for non-members and £4.50 for students, RFT members and concessions.

All films will be screened by the Reading Film Theatre in Palmer Building, Theatre G10, Whiteknights campus, Reading RG6 6UR (for sat navs) and start at 7pm.


For more information please contact Becki Rassell, Communications Officer, on 0118 378 8408 or email

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Brief film details

Wednesday 1 February The season begins with Kenneth Branagh's powerful adaptation of William Shakespeare's Henry V, which was chosen specifically for its passion and realism and its exploration of the timeless relationship between love and war. With Dr Elizabeth Matthew.

Wednesday 15 February The second film is the 2006 adaptation of The Magic FluteThe Magic Flute is set in two parallel universes, the battered wastelands of the First World War and a world of fantastical oddities.  Opera has been regarded by some as intellectually inaccessible; we will endeavour to demonstrate the appeal, beauty and power of this art form. With Dr Esther Mijers.

Wednesday 29 February Julian Temple's The Filth and the Fury. This provocative documentary details the emergence of British punk and its impact on Britain and the wider world. With Dr Matthew Worley.

Wednesday 7 March Our season culminates with Gus Van Sant's Milk.  This powerful biopic documents the political career, and subsequent assassination, of the first openly gay man in the United States to be elected to public office.  With Dr Jonathan Bell.

Notes for editors

The University of Reading is one of the UK's top research intensive universities, and is ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world. The Department of History is a well-resourced for both teaching and research. The Department is also linked with the University's Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), one of three museums owned and run by the University of Reading.

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