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Historical drama

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A historical drama (also period drama, period piece or just period) is a dramatic work set in a past time period, usually used in the context of film and television, which presents historical events and characters with varying degrees of fictional elements such as creative dialogue or fictional scenes which aim to compress separate events or illustrate a broader factual narrative. The biographical film is a type of historical drama which generally focuses on a single individual or well-defined group. Historical dramas can include romances, adventure films, and swashbucklers.

Historical drama can be differentiated from historical fiction, which generally present fictional characters and events against a backdrop of historical events. A period piece may be set in a vague or general era such as the Middle Ages, or a specific period such as the Roaring Twenties, or the recent past.

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In different eras different subgenres have risen to popularity, such as the westerns and sword and sandal films that dominated North American cinema in the 1950s. The costume drama is often separated as a genre of historical dramas. Early critics defined them as films focusing on romance and relationships in sumptuous surroundings, contrasting them with other historical dramas believed to have more serious themes. Other critics have defended costume dramas, and argued that they are disparaged because they are a genre directed towards women.[1] Historical dramas have also been described as a conservative genre, glorifying an imagined past that never existed.[2]

Historical accuracy

2004 filming of a 19th-century film scene set in London

Historical drama may include mostly fictionalized narratives based on actual people or historical events, such as the history plays of Shakespeare,[3] Apollo 13, Braveheart, Chernobyl, Enemy at the Gates, Les Misérables, and Titanic.[4] Works may include references to real-life people or events from the relevant time period or contain factually accurate representations of the time period.

Works that focus on accurately portraying specific historical events or persons are instead known as docudrama, such as The Report. Where a person's life is central to the story, such a work is known as biographical drama, with notable examples being films such as Alexander,[5] Frida, House of Saddam, Lincoln, Lust for Life, Raging Bull, and Stalin.

See also


  1. ^ Annette Kuhn; Guy Westwell (21 June 2012). A Dictionary of Film Studies. OUP Oxford. pp. 98–. ISBN 978-0-19-103465-7.
  2. ^ Robé, Chris (2009). "Taking Hollywood Back: The Historical Costume Drama, the Biopic, and Popular Front U.S. Film Criticism". Cinema Journal. 48 (2): 70–87. doi:10.1353/cj.0.0082. JSTOR 20484449. S2CID 153354352.
  3. ^ Grant, Teresa; Ravelhofer, Barbara (2008-01-15). English Historical Drama, 1500-1660: Forms Outside the Canon. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-4849-6.
  4. ^ Niemi, Robert (2013-10-17). Inspired by True Events: An Illustrated Guide to More Than 500 History-Based Films, 2nd Edition: An Illustrated Guide to More Than 500 History-Based Films. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610691987.
  5. ^ Carver, Terrell (Spring 2005). "Oliver Stone's Alexander". Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies. Center for the Study of Film & History. 35 (2): 83–84. doi:10.1353/flm.2005.0033. eISSN 1548-9922. ISSN 0360-3695. S2CID 191432461.

This page was last edited on 30 June 2023, at 15:33
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