Hollywood is famous for moving away from one subject and getting the other subject heavily wet.
One such seemingly unruly subject was the Haitian Revolution. This ended in 1804 with the success of a rebellion against French colonial rule by Saint-Domingue’s self-liberated slaves. It was the first successful revolution by enslaved people in modern history.
Ten years ago, Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall, a professor of history at Calstate San Marcos, began studying what the entertainment industry considers to be a turning point in world history.
Fast-forwarding in 2021, Sepinwall’s extensive and thought-provoking work on this subject recently published “Slave Rebellion on Screen: Haitian Revolution in Movies and Video Games.. “
“It was one of the most important events in world history, but most people don’t know about it,” Sepinwall said. “So the question is why it is. Why were there so many different revolutions and so many historical events, but why weren’t there any major films about the Haitian Revolution? Was that one question I started with? “
“Slave Rebellion Screen” is Sepinwall’s third published book.Haiti History: A New Perspective(Published in 2012) and “Gregoire Monastery and the French Revolution: The Formation of Modern Universality(2005). The latter title, which was just released in paperback for the first time this month, focuses on the Catholic priests involved in the French Revolution. He also advocated the abolition of slavery and criticized prejudice against Jews and others.
Sepinwall’s new book touches on the fact that the story of the Haitian Revolution is not found in Hollywood, but is shared in the form of other films around the world. Haiti filmmakers in France and smaller budget films in the United States tell this crucial story. This book analyzes the finished film and planned projects that have never been created.
“I found that there are many more films I know, including films by Haitian filmmakers who have a very interesting perspective on their history, but it’s hard for them to spread the word. “Mr. Sepinwall said. “One of the big questions I see in this book is who can tell history on the screen. Who and from what part of the world can we decide? With Americans? French can make films that can be seen in other parts of the world, but Haitian filmmakers shouldn’t have a hard time making films and getting people to see their version of their history. . “
This book is also one of the first video games written by historians and has been praised by Sepinwall. She explains: “Historical video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, players spend countless hours playing games, and then the students have an idea of the history they have gained from the game. But American historians rarely rate these games. They assume they are simple and not worth the time. Leading the general public to a better game. I think it’s important to think seriously about how history is portrayed in video games, in order to keep it away from terrible games. “
For this reason, Professor Tyler Stovall of Fordham University, a leading historian and former president of the American Historical Association, called Sepinwall’s book “A Breakthrough Study,” and she said, “Many in video games. How innovative it is to pay attention to the points. ” The largest form of entertainment in the 21st century. Sepinwall also “American Historical Review” PodcastA major scholarly publication for American historians, explaining the importance of studying historic video games.
CSUSM students at Sepinwall have a keen interest in her research. In 2013, one of her students surprised her with the news that there was a new video game aimed at portraying slavery in pre-revolutionary Haiti. “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” was released that year, adding a single-player downloadable content called “Freedom Cry.”
“After I started watching this game, I realized that there were other games about slavery and slave rebellion that scholars didn’t write,” he said, impressed with the overall accuracy of the “Freedom Cry” story. Said Sepinwall. “At the time, I thought there weren’t many movies, so I thought I was just writing an article. I knew only this one game. But when I was researching, I was a student. Taught us about other video games. Later, we discovered a game created by Muriel Tramis, a pioneering developer in the French Caribbean. The Haitian revolution in video games has become a “thing”. I noticed that. So the big question in this book is why Hollywood didn’t make a major movie about the Haitian Revolution. And why are video game companies willing to find a game of slave rebellion in Haiti when the film producer hasn’t found it? “
For this book, she was able to interview the author of “Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry”, Jill Murray, as well as Tramis and other film and game makers.
These interactions helped give her insight into the creative endeavors involved in making games and movies. It also gave her more credibility on the path she was taking and why it was so important to learn from the true stories of the past.
“As humans and as historians, it’s important to me to learn about everything we’ve done in the past, not just good things,” Sepinwall said. “I teach students about the Holocaust, and I also want to teach them about slavery and other difficult things to learn. It reminds students of yet other parts of history that we don’t talk about. So that’s part of this bigger question, what happened in history, and what part do we talk about?
“Learning everything in the past gives us more compassion and empathy for others. This is really important. Learning the sad part of history makes people feel about themselves. Some people think it’s wrong because it makes them sick. And I see Germany. How terrible it would be if people didn’t study the Holocaust, because they said they would feel sick. Or what if they try to pretend that it wasn’t as scary as it was? It’s important to study history, Ibo, and everything – good, bad, And ugly. I love having students who accept learning about every aspect of the past and are enthusiastic about analyzing movies and games with me. “