When it comes to the major events of our time, a good story can go a long way in providing more than the history. A good story gives emotion, color and life to a historic event – whether it happened 200 years ago or last week.
Sunday’s New York Times featured an article on a new HBO pilot that is in the works called, “Treme.” The pilot is about a group of New Orleans musicians picking up the pieces after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on their hometown. Created by David Simon – the same guy who brought you “The Wire” – the show is meant to put a spotlight on what happened in New Orleans, and more specifically, what went wrong. Additionally, more than the storm and the aftermath, the show is really about “why New Orleans matters.” Why it matters to us as a nation, why it matters to the local culture, and what it tells us about our country at that point in time.
While some would say the American journalist is slowly dying, the American storyteller is starting to gain life. With movies like “Milk,” the Academy Award nominated film about Harvey Milk, and “W,” Oliver Stone’s movie about former President George W. Bush, filmmakers are taking their own stance on the major issues of our time and crafting them into compelling stories that both capture and educate audiences. “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” a documentary about the Enron meltdown, “Charlie Wilson’s War,” a film about the end of the Cold War, and “Frost Nixon,” a dramatic retelling of the post-Watergate television interviews, are more examples highlighting this growing trend.
Old or new, these stories will be passed down from generation to generation in the form of a film. Our grandchildren will be able to watch these movies and gain a deeper understanding into who we were at that time, how we felt and what we feared. These films are more influential than facts in a history book and they will last longer than a two minute reel on the nightly news. Why? Because that’s the power of a good story.