Published on December 12th, 2023 | by Dr. Jerry Doby0
Live Session with Professor Roxanne Panchasi on Ridley Scott’s Film “Napoleon”
In this Live Session conversation, I welcomed Professor Roxanne Panchasi, an Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University, to delve into the historical accuracy of Ridley Scott’s new film, “Napoleon.” Professor Panchasi is also the author of the highly regarded Future Tense: The Culture of Anticipation in France Between the Wars. She is also the founding host of the New Books Network’s French Studies podcast.
Historical Inaccuracies in Films
Professor Panchasi, known for her unique approach to military history as a cultural and political historian, offered invaluable insights into the movie’s inaccuracies and their impact on historical representation. We explored the broader societal implications of war on culture and politics, emphasizing the responsibility of cinematic representations in accurately portraying historical events.
Exploring “Future Tense” and Cultural Anxiety
Our conversation veered toward Professor Panchasi’s book “Future Tense,” unraveling the culture of anticipation in France between the world wars. We delved into the deep societal anxieties stemming from the aftermath of World War I, exploring how this trauma shaped French society’s vision of the future, particularly concerning war. Our discussion highlighted the role of literature and culture in shaping these anticipations.
Balancing Accuracy and Entertainment in Biopics
Things got lively when focusing on the critical balance between accuracy and entertainment in biopics, particularly in Ridley Scott’s Napoleon film. We concurred on the importance of maintaining emotional engagement while upholding a more focused commitment to historical truth. The conversation also addressed the imperative of accurate cultural representation and the controversies surrounding commemorating figures like Napoleon.
Journalism, Historical Depictions, and Cultural Sensitivity
Emphasizing the significance of journalistic integrity, I prompted Professor Panchasi to discuss historical presentations through a journalistic lens. We expressed concerns regarding the misrepresentation of historical figures in films, underscoring the responsibility such representations hold, especially in educating and informing audiences. The discussion expanded to the ongoing debate between Ridley Scott and historians regarding historical accuracy in cinematic portrayals.
Closing Thoughts and Future Endeavors
This live session made me look forward to future conversations and exchanges with Professor Panchasi, acknowledging the importance of accuracy and cultural sensitivity in historical representations. The professor also shared some of the artists she and her son listen to together…she’s on it! Tune in to our conversation below, it was a lot of fun picking the brain of a professor of history!