Panel at NeMLA's 52nd Annual Convention in Philadelphia, PA
Historical fiction film and television productions present a life that today’s viewers cannot experience, offering a unique escape. The growing trend revived what Leger Grindon observed in Shadows on the Past (1994), that “[f]rom the earliest days of their artistic practice, filmmakers have engaged in the centuries-old tradition of grappling with the present by writing about the past” (1). But I ask: Why do studios continue to spend the money and effort to look backward? Why is the viewing audience’s attention (and entertainment dollars) captured again and again?