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Title:Historian as filmmaker: reflections on the making of the film documentary 'Those Dying Days'
Author:Walton, Sarah Jane
Periodical:South African Historical Journal (ISSN 1726-1686)
Geographic term:South Africa
World War II
oral history
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/02582473.2016.1214170
Abstract:This article reflects on my experiences making the film documentary 'Those Dying Days' (South Africa, 2012). The documentary itself explores the question of personal and public remembrance of World War Two in Cape Town. It speaks not only to the fluid and adaptive nature of memory, but also to the relative silence regarding the war in terms of public commemoration. The article discusses the challenges and rewards of film as a medium for historical argument and information and argues for an affinity between film and oral history. It provides the thinking behind the choices made in the construction of argument in a non-written discourse (film) and reveals the methods adopted in an attempt to create a complicated historical account which recognises the contingent nature of history and one which allows for a multiplicity of perspectives and voices to be heard. After discussing the making of the documentary, the article concludes that film is more than capable of creating nuanced and complicated historic arguments. Film, in this light, is considered as an alternative discursive mode to the written word (which remains the dominant mode of historical production within academia) and one which questions how, why and for whom historical knowledge is produced. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]