Today I will be talking to you about how history and memory are depicted in Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang, and James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic. Both texts depend heavily on fictionalised historical figures to tell their stories through memory. And both leave us with suspicions about their historical accuracy. In this speech I will be exploring these two texts through five main points * The difference in believability between a novel and a film * The similarity of the story telling construction
* The influence of legends in both works
* The development of the main characters
* And how a similar intention in both writers finishes with completely different outcomes and senses of history. My first point of comparison between the two texts is the obvious, that one is a book and one is a film meaning they leave us with different senses of history. The film medium used for titanic encourages us to believe the whole story even though we know that the main characters are completely invented. However the novel medium gives us more time to reflect and doubt. Jack and Rose are before our eyes on the titanic therefor making it easy for the audience to imagine them in history, whereas Ned and his daughter although they are true historical figures require more time and effort to try and place them anywhere in a historical context without that added visual. The story of one person remembering history is the central construction of both works. Ned as a story teller is writing to his daughter as he wants her to believe his version of events over others. Rose as a storyteller is seeking to get her listeners to believe and empathize with her version of history. Both literary constructions set out to create empathy for the person recalling events. For these reasons they are both less likely to be true histories. Thirdly, both stories are based around legendary ideas with roots in true history; The Ned Kelly legend and...
Links: can be made between aspects of the two texts. For example Ned could be seen as the Titanic. Both of them existed but needed some alterations for dramatic purpose. Whereas Jack and Rose can be seen as Ned’s letters to his daughter. They most likely did not exist. No real person remembers them and so they cannot be considered history.
My fourth point is that both texts are clearly well researched making them appear more realistic whilst still maintaining the intended entertainment value. The authors in their research looked at the true memories and stories of true historical figures to understand the true history, but then changed those memories to fit into a new story. Perhaps all history is a bit like this with stories being told and retold over the centuries like Chinese whispers, you never know when the story or memory will change.
Titanic has many good examples of fact being mixed in with stories, one being when Rose says ‘‘Fifteen hundred people went into the sea, when titanic sank from under us. There were twenty boats floating nearby…and only one came back. One. Six were saved from the water, myself included. Six…out of fifteen hundred.’’ This quote shows that historical accuracies were used, but had to be slightly modified in order to fit Rose into the equation, effectively changing the history and memories for any viewer.
My last point is that both James Cameron and Peter Carey both went out with the same intentions – to tell history through the memory of a character who was there – but they have completely different outcomes. Both writers have attempted to create a made up character the only difference is that Ned was a real historical figure who Peter Carey had to change in order for his memories to accomplish a different kind of history from what we know, whereas James Cameron created completely new memories with new characters. Basically one author had to invent whilst the other had to reinvent.
In conclusion by analysing these two texts, we can see that even though history and memory go hand in hand, and you can’t tell history without a memory, the quality of the always history depends on the quality of the memory.
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