Parade explores how history makes for some great entertainment - and teaches us a thing or two.
Hollywood looks to the past for its latest hits, from The Crown and Timeless to Battle of the Sexes
the best stories just might be from the past. On the big screen, Dunkirk recently took us to the beaches of France during World War II. Earlier this year, Hidden Figures put us back in America’s space race. On the small screen, Timeless sent a trio back in time to famous events, from Lincoln’s assassination to Watergate; Genius explored Einstein’s life; we got a look at the wild side of William Shakespeare in Will; The Crown did a deep dive into the reign of Queen Elizabeth II; and Turn: Washington’s Spies told the true story of America’s first spy ring.
“History instantly gives a story relevance,” says Ben Mankiewicz, host of Turner Classic Movies. “We can relate to it. We either know it or we feel like we know it, or we think, Well, this is something I should know.”
The trend of looking backward continues this fall with more movies, TV shows and podcasts that delve into the past, from spies and sports to time travel and scandals.
Certain themes, like the American frontier of HBO’s Westworld or British society in shows like The Crown and Call the Midwife, will always hold our fascination, says Mankiewicz, 50, who also reviews for the online show What the Flick?! on the Young Turks network.
War is another topic that resonates across the decades, says Mankiewicz, who gives high marks to Saving Private Ryan, the 1959 Korean War saga Pork Chop Hill and director Stanley Kubrick’s World War I drama Paths of Glory.
The past is a moving target. As scholars turn over new rocks of evidence and modern forensics reveal fresh layers of insight, what we thought to be true is revised and updated in all forms of entertainment.
“History is not set in stone,” Mankiewicz says. “We’re learning more and more how things we grew up believing were kinda true. So hopefully movies and TV shows will bring us closer to understanding what made us the way we are.” —Neil Pond
In Theaters Battle of the Sexes (Sept. 22)
Emma Stone and Steve Carell star in this highly anticipated comedic biopic about the iconic, record-breaking 1973 tennis match between top-rated Billie Jean King and former champ Bobby Riggs, from the directors of the Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine.
American Made (Sept. 29)
In this action-drama from The Bourne
Identity director Doug Liman, Tom Cruise plays Barry Seal, a real-life Trans World Airlines pilot who became a smuggler for the CIA and was recruited later by the DEA to become a spy.
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (Sept. 29)
Liam Neeson stars in this political thriller about Watergate, one of the greatest political
scandals of all time. He plays “Deep Throat,” the Washington whistleblower whose real identity wasn’t revealed until nearly three decades later.
Goodbye Christopher Robin (Oct. 13)
Margot Robbie and Domhnall Gleeson star in this behind- the- scenes look at beloved children's author A.A Milne, whose Winnie-the-Pooh and other stories brought hope and joy to the world following the horrors of World War I.
Marshall (Oct. 13)
Chadwick Boseman— whose previous movie roles include Jackie Robinson and James Brown—portrays future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as he battles through one of his early career’s
The Man Who Invented Christmas (Nov. 3)
Dan Stevens (the Beast in Beauty and the Beast) plays author Charles Dickens in this tale about the creation of his holiday classic A Christmas Carol. The film is based on a popular nonfiction book by Les Standiford.
Darkest Hour (Nov. 22)
Gary Oldman has already been getting Oscar buzz for his portrayal of Winston Churchill during his early days as Great Britain’s prime minister at the dawn of World War II. The film is directed by Joe Wright ( Atonement).
The Shape of Water (Dec. 8)
Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins anchor this otherworldly fairy tale from acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro ( Pan’s Labyrinth,
Hellboy), set in Cold War–era America circa 1963 and revolving around a top-secret classified government experiment.
The Papers (Dec. 22)
Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and Alison Brie star in this historical drama about one of the most famous political cover-ups in American history and the publication of the “Pentagon Papers.” Steven Spielberg directs the all-star cast.
The Crown Season two is set to premiere this fall on Netflix Season one of the drama about the reign of Queen
Elizabeth II was met with great acclaim and awards last year. Matthew
Goode and Michael C. Hall join the stellar cast for season two. Outlander Season three premieres Sept. 10 on Starz Based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, about a WWII-era nurse who travels through time to 18th-century Scotland, the sumptuously realized romantic drama returns for 13 highly anticipated episodes. Timeless Season two premieres in 2018 on NBC A history professor ( Abigail Spencer), scientist ( Malcolm Barrett) and soldier ( Matt Lanter) attempt to prevent a time-traveling villain ( ) from meddling in American history.
Podcasts Stuff You Missed in History Class
From popular and informative website How Stuff Works, Tracy V.
Wilson and Holly Frey host this show about obscure facts that your history class might have glossed over, including war heroes, classic movie stars and the history of women in the USPS.
This podcast from author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell reexamines things from the past—such as events, people, ideas and works of art—to see if they deserve a second chance or if the contemporary consensus is fair.
Comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds pick an American history subject and examine it with a funny twist.
The British History Podcast
Host Jamie Jeffers takes listeners on a meticulously researched chronological tour of the history of England, Scotland and Wales. Jeffers’ first episode, May 2011, was about the ice age, and he's been working his way forward in time ever since.
Battle of the Sexes
Goodbye Christopher Robin