Connection between the Historical Record and the Film Revolution

Various groups have influenced history. In particular, American history has allowed every race and tribe to make both direct and indirect contributions to its development, culture, politics, and economics. (Donnelly 209). The clamor and independence struggles of two main races, as well as the subsequent growth and development of the nation's infrastructure, all contributed significantly to the formation of the United States as a nation. The modern individual in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has learned about historical events primarily in two ways. The two avenues include history books and films (Kramer, Reid and Barney 8). The former category is more informative as it results from careful academic research to unearth facts, or some books, such as memoirs, may be written out of personal experience. The latter, on the other hand, is usually a work of art that must contain various elements of entertainment, exaggeration or alteration of reality, and in most cases, a lot of omission that helps the director focus on a particular audience. The film Revolution (1985) directed by Hugh Hudson is one example of a historical film that leaves out the voice of the African American in the struggle for the independence of the United States.

The colonization of the United States by Britain affected all non-English people living in the country at the time. There were two groups of White people; the British and the American White population. Blacks and Native Americans were the other two major occupants of the colony. Black people had been taken to America following the massive slave trade that took place across the Atlantic, with slaves being brought from Africa to Portuguese and Spanish colonies. Due to the demand for cheap labor in Virginia, the Britons brought the Black people as slaves to work on the plantations in order to produce food (Chapter 2: The First Slaves 51). Due to the fact that they were bought, Black slaves were treated as property belonging to an individual. They were hardly paid for the work and were severely punished for attempts to revolt against their masters. Some would be burnt, forcefully separated from their families by selling them randomly to different masters, or hanged while others would be banished (Chapter 2: The First Slaves 53). This was the first step to colonizing the United States. The Black people began their struggle for freedom in the17th through to the 19th centuries, as can be evidenced by letters and correspondences among their leaders, most of which are documented. For instance, the letter from Secret Keeper Richmond to Secret Keeper Norfolk reveals the various plans by the African Americans to get rid of the White influence and take over the country (Chapter 2: The First Slaves 53). Many other letters follow a similar structure and content.

The Great Britain dominated American economy with the hope that the plantations and other resources would help the country pay for debts that had accrued from the English-French War, also referred to as the French and Indian War (Chapter 4: Preparing the Revolution 79). Life for American patriots were vastly affected as they had to pay up unnecessary taxes to the King of England and would suffer other consequences such as dispossession of items like land and businesses among other things. Patriotic White Americans organized various revolutions that are seen to have been fundamental to the liberation of the United States from British colonization. Some of these revolts would take place through direct confrontation in battlefields, boycotts, or vandalism or isolated acts of defiance. For instance, the Boston Tea Party of 1773 which followed the Boston massacre in the 1770s was staged by the patriots in revolt against the taxes on tea without representation (Chapter 4: Preparing the Revolution 83). The efforts to de-colonize America became fruitful when the British soldiers were defeated by the patriots and England forced to relinquish power to Americans. The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 (Chapter 4: Preparing the Revolution 86).

Certain Americans who profited from the war did not wish for independence as it would signify losing control to a democratic government. The Declaration of Independence alongside the American constitution had been signed with a lot of American pride and had been set to be unchangeable, by the founding fathers of the nation. Classism caught up with American life and the poor had no place in America. Some of the Revolutionary Soldiers who had fought for the Independence of the nation suffered and had no property to possess (Chapter 5: Half a Revolution 96). They had no jobs while the rich thrived in profit-making, thus creating rife disparity between the rich and the poor. The latter, who formed a major part of the country, revolted in order to restore the American spirit of egalitarianism and equality (Chapter 5: Half a Revolution 91).

Revolution, starring Al Pacino, focuses on only one class of American segment that fought for independence: the poor patriotic class (Hudson). It features the life of Tom Dobb and Ned, his teenage son, who are poor and homeless after a mob takes their boat and forces them to join the revolution war. It also shows the rich merchants and businessmen in the United States represented by the McConnahay family, who benefitted from America’s colonization. Their daughter, Daisy, represents the rebellious class of White patriots who were from the rich class. However, the struggles of the Black people has been left out completely, with only a few passive scenes where Cuffy, Daisy’s African American servant is seen to serve her mistress. There is no indication of struggles for independence by the Black people. This occurrence confirms that films are only suited for a particular audience, and tend to ignore many historical facts. Therefore, history books are better sources of history education.

Works Cited

"Chapter 2: The First Slaves." n.d.

"Chapter 4: Preparing the Revolution ." n.d.

"Chapter 5: Half a Revolution." n.d.

Donnelly, William F. American Economic Growth: The Historic Challenge. Ardent Media, 1973. Print.

Kramer, Lloyd S., Donald Reid and William L. Barney. Learning History in America: Schools, Cultures, and Politics. U of Minnesota Press, 1994. Print.

Revolution. Dir. Hugh Hudson. Perf. Al Pacino. 1985. Film.

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