Lies Agreed Upon looks at how Hollywood uses history to talk about today. Hosts Lia Paradis and Brian Crim look at the plots and themes of movies and tv shows and discuss how they were influenced by the historical events of the moment.
SciFi and 9/11 Part II
In this second of two discussions about SciFi and 9/11, we look at 3 tv series: Battlestar Galactica, Falling Skies and The Leftovers. This is the last episode of Season 1. We will return later in the year with Season 2, in which we look at how Hollywood has represented revolts and insurrections over the years, and how current events influenced those depictions at the time.
Bonus: SciFi and 9/11 Part I
In our final 2 episodes of Season 1 we’re doing something a little different. Our focus has been on how historical events are portrayed on screen after 9/11 - from Antiquity to 9/11 itself. But if we confine ourselves to film and tv with historic narratives, we’re actually going to be ignoring where we find the most commentary on the 9/11 and its legacy - science fiction.
We had so much to say that we've broken our conversation into 2 parts. So in Part I this week, we're talking about films, most notably War of the Worlds (2005) and Cloverfield (2008). In Part II next week, we'll be talking about TV series, focusing on Battlestar Galactica (2003-2008) and The Leftovers (2014-2017).
Moments after the planes hit, dozens of CIA and FBI officials had their worst fears confirmed. They each knew separate pieces of the story, but enduring and vicious turf wars over counter-terrorism prevented any meaningful cooperation. Part I of this...
September 11th, 2001
In this episode of Lies Agreed Upon we examine the day everything changed, September 11, 2001. Until now we’ve talked about how the long cultural shadow of 9/11 influenced films about ancient history, the Cold War, and slavery; or institutions like the press, or the CIA. But 9/11 itself was off limits. But in 2006 two films came out from directors with reputations for making movies that critically examine historical events.
Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center follows the story of a handful of New York Port Authority policemen, first responders with no idea what they were in for that sunny Tuesday morning. Paul Greengrass’ United 93 takes to the air, recreating the terrifying and chaotic experiences of passengers who stormed the cockpit of the fourth hijacked plane heading to the US Capitol building. These two directors dared to go where no others had gone before - 9/11. They also could not be more different in how they chose to tackle this heretofore black hole of representation.
When We Were Terrorists
Our Lies Agreed Upon in this episode are: First, that a familiar, timeless story that reinforces who we think we are must be true. Second, that history is there to reassure and uplift, not to challenge, or make us uncomfortable. And third, that there is...
Fourth Estate Under Siege
In the wake of Watergate, when Nixon flouted the Constitution and denigrated the press, Alan Pakula’s 1976 classic All the President’s Men made journalism sexy and heroic again (not surprising as the book it was based on was written by the journalists who broke the Watergate story). This episode looks at three movies that celebrate what might be called “heroic journalism” in response to the direct attacks of two administrations. George Clooney’s Good Night, And Good Luck (2005), Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight (2015) and Steven Spielberg’s The Post (2017) go a long way towards rehabilitating the fifth estate in light of post-911 failures.
Grounded and Nuanced Film Reviews/Critiques
In the vein of Heather Cox Richardson, Paradis and Crim provide historically grounded critiques of events—in this case, cinematic events. At a moment when public conversation around cultural productions is understandably fraught, and when culture itself is a battleground, they do a great job of situating individual films in a long-term historical perspective, and in the context of their production. They nuance analyses of popular films by shedding light on historical facts that could enrich viewers’ experiences of the films and the critical conversations surrounding them. I would recommend this podcast for movie buffs, historians of both the academic and armchair variety, and for anyone looking for cultural reflection that extends beyond the tweet.