Students, teachers discuss the ethics behind films based on historical events


A slew of movies with plots revolving around true historical events have flooded movie theaters in the past few years. These movies divulge into two distinct categories. One category centers around recent events and disasters such as “Patriots Day,” which came out in wide release last December about the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and “Deepwater Horizon,” which came out in wide release last September and focuses on the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The other group delves into older, lingering issues such as “12 Years a Slave,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Schindler’s List” and “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” which comes out on March 31.

The former category of movies dives into the heart of many debilitating conflicts and often cover heartbreaking tragedies. As a result, opinions differ on the morality of these films as well as how the portrayals of events differentiate in accuracy and relevancy, making the issue even murkier.

Sophomore Sammie Roger said, “The issues these types of movies discuss are challenging to portray fairly, and with their immense profitability, these movies definitely test the boundaries of ethics.”

However, Roger said these films can be considered morally sound if they bring awareness to an issue and do an adequate job of correctly portraying reality.

On the other hand, freshman Marcus Prine, who disapproves of these films said, “The people making these movies are being inconsiderate. All they want to do is make money and they’re willing to exploit anything and anybody to make a profit.”

However, Prine said movies that analyze events from decades ago are more ethically sound.

“Enough time has passed where it is okay to discuss the disasters and the wounds are less fresh,” Prine said. “While it is still wrong to profit off of these calamities, by then, the movies can be used to make people conscious of a particular event.”

Social studies teacher Allison Hargrove who each year plays these films in her class said, “Movies like ‘Schindler’s List’ are able to evoke emotions that facts just cannot. The movie is able to humanize all the situation and does a great job showing the severity of the tragedy to students.”

Furthermore, she said many of these types of movies revolve less around turning a profit and more-so wish to bring light to a deeper issue.

Hargrove also said she shows “Schindler’s List” to her classes because it provides an accurate depiction of reality.

“With ‘Schindler’s List,’ it was obviously more about educating people than it was about making money. The director, Steven Spielberg, even donated all of his personal profits to charity,” Hargrove said.

Roger said, “The movies tend to do a good job showing everything like it really happened.” “Historically accurate movies are able to provide a greater impact because their story is real and they are able to bring awareness to real events that transpired.”