The historian, the philosopher, and the scientist: three approaches to science history filmmaking

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


Science history films are an underutilized way to build public interest in science. Required. Science history portrays the genesis of a significant idea and is an ideal topic for documentaries that aim to improve science literacy in a low pressure, highly entertaining cinematic experience, without being overly rhetorical. When attitude towards science improves, understanding may follow. By analyzing three influential filmmakers in their different approaches to history films, Errol Morris's The Thin Blue Line, Agnes Varda's The Gleaners and I, and Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, I assemble a toolkit of helpful techniques for science history filmmakers to employ. I apply these conditions to my science history film "The Great French Wine Blight" in order to best present this history in a thoughtful and engaging way while remaining faithful to the science and ideally improving the audience's attitude towards science in general.


The great French wine blight is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.



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