Capturing the Moment: Narrative Movies as Historical and Cultural Artifacts
Artifacts From the previous chapters, it has become evident that, whatever a film may say about the past, it also exists as a product or an artifact of its own time and place. This chapter examines movies as cultural artifacts, revealing significant aspects of
contemporary life; movies whose content may be set in the past, but that nevertheless
reveal concerns and preoccupations of the time in which they were made; and
movies that are not merely artifacts, but icons of a particular time. Even movies that on the surface have nothing to do with real life-movies set in the future such as William Cameron Menzies’ Things to Come (1936), about life in the future after a devastating war, or an epic fantasy such as Peter Jackson’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)—are cultural expressions that can be very relevant to contemporary life. One of the challenges of historical scholarship, however, is to find enough material to support the topic. So, before you ask if you can write a paper on Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), read on.