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Topics in History: History through Film

Topics is a course at Southport High School taught by Kevin Sanders that analyzes major events from United States and world history through Hollywood films that attempt to portray those events. Students investigate historical documents and other sources to determine if a film is historically accurate.

The goal is for students to develop deeper understandings of the historical discipline while generating questions about the way the world is around them, along with watching classical films that have graced American and international screens.

Student: Brandon Cruz

Film Reviewed: Lincoln

I believe the film Lincoln is so beautiful and visually appealing because of the shots throughout the movie. Some of the shots that stuck out to me used a specific film technique which consists of the lighting in a scene and if it’s natural or not natural light.

A few ways the movie used natural lighting was when it had scenes where Lincoln was in his room with his wife; most of the time it was dark with very little light, and it set the mood to be sort of relaxing but also kind of gloomy. Another scene right after is when Lincoln finds his son asleep by the fireplace. These two scenes stuck out to me because of how simple the lighting technique is, and it still made me feel calm and almost sleepy since I could see the fireplace and I could imagine the feeling of the heat coming from it and the nice darkish environment.

Another part where this technique was used but set a completely different mood was when Lincoln was talking/discussing with other characters, more specifically near the beginning of the movie where he is talking to the Cabinet. It has the same lighting, but this time it gives off different vibes. It is more serious, and the scene feels heavy.

The natural light coming from what I believe is the moon, is shining into the room and it only shines on the maps of the walls and on half of everyone’ face, including Lincoln’s. There are also a couple of close-ups of Lincoln’s face, and it still has the light shine on only half of his face which makes it look really cool. This is what makes the scene feel serious. This type of technique is why I loved watching this movie because it really sets you in different moods throughout the whole movie and makes you sort of feel what the characters are feeling. I just find it so fascinating how something as small as the amount of lighting and where it’s coming from can set different moods and emotions. That to me is why I believe that Lincoln is such a beautiful film to watch.

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