In Recreating History, Vugar Efendi opened us the door to memorable historical events which are re-created through movies. Through this no voice-over video essay, we can say that history is an important source for movies, and movies help surviving history.
Overall, Vugar starts his video with some historical events, or moments in the entertainment world. The essay is began with Edith Piaf’s remarkable performance at Olympia in 1961. He kept the low quality and the black and white color of the old sequence as a significant element for proof for the historicity of his source. Slowly after that, the scene from the movie La vie en rose (2007) appears on the right side of the video. We can easily see that Vugar used multi-screen technique to give us a comparison between historical source and recreated moments in movies. It is necessary to point out that the scene from La vie en rose is bigger, or more specific, wider, than the video of the performance: it has a dimension of cinematographic screens, while the other remains with its old norms. This unequal screen-dividing also keeps appear throughout his video essay. I personally appreciate his choice keeping old video’s frame dimension, because it gives audience the most realistic element to compare two given images. This sequence is followed by Catch me if you can – recreating a 1977 game show To tell the truth and Damned United – recreating a historical interview with Brian Clough and Don Revie in 1974.
After that, he continues his video by showing historical documentary represented in movies: Jackie, JFK, and Silma. They are all related to politicians or historically political event in 20th century. What surprised me is that after three “serious” moments, he leads audience to other entertained events, such as Andy Kaufman on Saturday Night Life (recreated in Man on the moon) or the fight between Micky Ward and Shea Neary (recreated in The Fighter). I am not saying that those events are not important or not “historical” enough, I just feel uneasy seeing there is no logic between his chosen moments (or there is but I did not see it?). Despite that illogical arrangement, he framed each screen perfectly, placed a symmetric juxtaposition which helped each sequence match with other. It is also important that all his last “historical moments” are from photos: the marriage between Stephen and Jane Hawkings, a personal intimate photo of Richard and Mildred Loving, and a self portrait of Christopher McCandless (he starts with videos and ends with photos). And in the last juxtaposition (McCandless’ picture and the scene from Into the Wild), the camera goes from a wide view (like in the photo), to a closer view, which showed us emotions represented through his face. Is it possible to say that movie, in this scene, did an “improvisation” by guessing the main character’s emotion which is clearly cannot be seen through photo – the historical element?
Through his comparison, we can see how movies tried to recreate historical events/moments by letting characters wear same clothes, building same scene, recreating same movements, emotions or even changing film’s color (Jacky used black and white to create an “historical environment”). However, it is easy finding out that in movies, those events are much more colorful, cinematographic and symbolic.