For a couple of years Hollywood was giving us history bloggers plenty to talk about, with acclaimed films like 2012’s Lincoln, Argo, and Django Unchained and 2013’s 12 Years a Slave. That hasn’t been the case in 2015. I think I only saw a couple of history-related movies this past year, none of them particularly memorable. Or maybe we all spent so much time blogging and tweeting about that Hamilton musical that we just missed all the films aimed at history buffs.
Some of the movies headed for theaters in 2016 take American history as their subject matter, though, so let’s take a look.
The Revenant. This one hits select theaters on Christmas Day, but doesn’t get a wide release until Jan. 6. It’s based on Michael Punke’s novelization of a true incident in the life of fur trapper Hugh Glass. After joining an 1823 expedition into the American West, Glass barely survived a nasty bear mauling only to be abandoned by his companions, forcing him to endure a 200-mile trek to Fort Kiowa in present-day South Dakota. The legendary mountain man Jim Bridger was a member of the same party. The trailer’s fantastic.
The Witch. A horror movie set in 16th-century New England seems like a no-brainer, but I don’t know that anybody has made one until now. Looks pretty scary! (Suggested tagline: In space canst no man heare thou screame.)
The Free State of Jones. Matthew McConaughey plays Rebel deserter Newt Knight, who waged a mini-Civil War against Confederate authorities in Mississippi. No trailer for this one yet, but here’s a look at the historical background.
USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage. They did a made-for-TV movie about the Indianapolis back in the early nineties, and one of the writers of Jaws pitched the idea of building a prequel around the sinking. (It probably would’ve been better than the Jaws sequels we eventually got.) Mario Van Peebles directs this new version. A local news crew visited the set during filming in Mobile, AL.