Using a film of your choice to illustrate your arguments, explore the relation between visual representation and national identity.

Essay by FetusFetish December 2005

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Having seen the film 'Brave Heart' by Mel Gibson, I was greatly inspired to discuss the issues brought up by Anthony Smith in his essay entitled 'Cinema, art and national identity' in the light of this film. Smith's argument is that in paintings, historical views of a nation convey a variety of meanings and emotions when put within a frame. Film too performs this task however allowing the expansion of boundaries within which these meanings and emotions could be conveyed. Smith also divides the qualities of national identity within an artistic production, in this case film. As I discussed these divisions I cited examples from the film by Mel Gibson to clarify my argument.

In the section 'Historicism and Nationalism', Anthony Smith begins with a quote by Robert Rosenblum in which he explains how in today's movies, a restricted selection of narrative themes are shown through a wide variety of environments, like for example the Renaissance period, Ancient Greece and Rome, the Empire age and many more.

Such films Rosenblum argues, directly or indirectly reflect the 18th century 'combination of an easily communicable emotion and a search for the appurtenances of historical truth.' Anthony Smith continues by saying that this approach allowed for the retrospection of a 'dead past' in a new historical epoch of the citizen-nation occurring with the emergence of nationalism and capitalism. Modernists such as Ernest Gelher, Eric Hobsbawm, Benedict Anderson and Elie Kedourie all believed that the idea of a nation is both recent and novel, and besides this it is also the product of modernity and of modern thinking which 'creates and disseminates the historical myths of nationhood.' However Smith argues that what modernists fail to recognize is the analysis of the content and the tone of the nationalist message. Besides being...