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The Historian-Filmmaker's Dilemma: Historical Documentaries in Sweden in the Era of Häger and Villius
Historiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet, Uppsala.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9239-4139
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation investigates how history is used in historical documentary films, and argues that the maker of such films constantly negotiates between cognitive, moral, and aesthetic demands. In support of this contention is discussed a number of historical documentaries by Swedish historian-filmmakers Olle Häger and Hans Villius. Other historical documentaries supply additional examples. The analyses take into account both the production process and the representations themselves. The history culture and the social field of history production together form the conceptual framework for the study, and one of the aims is to analyse the role of professional historians in public life. The analyses show that different considerations compete and work together in the case of all documentaries, and figure at all stages of pre-production, production, and post-production. But different considerations have particular influence at different stages in the production process and thus they are more or less important depending on where in the process the producer puts his emphasis on them. In the public service television setting, the tendency to make cognitive considerations is strong. For example, historical documentarists often engage historians as advisors, and work long and hard interpreting visual source materials such as photographs. The Häger and Villius case also indicates that the influence exerted on programmes by aesthetic considerations grows as the filmmaker learns about the medium. Among general conclusions are that it is not always important that the producer be a trained historian. What is crucial is that whoever is to succeed in making fine historical programmes must learn both history and filmmaking, must learn to balance the demands of content and form. Previously, researchers have suggested that historical documentaries function as entertainment, orientation, and restoration; this study adds the functions of interpretation and legitimisation. Finally, the study submits that typically historical documentaries attempt to convey cognitive and moral insights about the past.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2003. , 411 p.
Studia historica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0081-6531 ; 210
Keyword [en]
History, historical documentary, history and film, history culture, historiography, communication of history, Olle Häger, Hans Villius, Swedish history 1968-2001, history and television
Keyword [sv]
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-107264ISBN: 91-554-5782-7OAI: diva2:723291
Public defence
2003-12-12, Sal X, Universitetshuset, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2014-06-10 Created: 2014-06-10 Last updated: 2014-06-11Bibliographically approved

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