To what extent is a film useful as an historical source?

In our previous history class we saw a film called Taegukgi to understand better and in more detail the Korean war. Our teacher asked us a TOK question which I found quite interesting: To what extent is a film useful as an historical source?

A film is an audiovisual representation of a story or fact. This visual contextualization is the reason why films are extremely useful when investigating a historical event. It’s mostly because of its easy comprehension.

In the film we were watching, appreciating how the war and the soldiers’ situation was in every moment helped us see the constant violence and horrible and difficult surviving  in every moment. Our imagination cannot reach that point of precision a lot of times , mostly when we’re talking about unaware contexts like, for example, Korean culture.

On the other hand, scriptwriters aren’t normally expert historians. This is why details shown in films always contain imaginary facts. This is why we say films are “based in real life” and they are not “real facts”.

In conclusion, films are helpful historical sources when trying to contextualize an event. However, they are not completely reliable and that’s why they cannot be considered as good sources.


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