150 years of cultural bridges between the past and the present

The essay ‘History, culture and Christianity (1870-2020)’ (EUNSA), explores the complex relationship between history, culture and religion, demonstrating the power of narrative in shaping our understanding of the world

Historian and deputy director of the Josemaría Escrivá Study Center, Onísimo Díaz presents us in History, culture and Christianity (1870-2020). A story of ten novels and their film adaptations (EUNSA) a detailed analysis of How literature and film have chronicled key historical events from 1870 to 2020, focusing on the role of Christianity in these stories. Díaz chooses ten iconic novels along with their film adaptations to explore themes such as world wars, the Cold War and 9/11, showing how these works have influenced the perception and understanding of history.

History, culture and Christianity (1870-2020)

Onesimo Diaz

Editorial: University of Navarra Editions (EUNSA)
Year of publication: 2024
Available at EUNSA: here.
Available on Unebook: here.

Works selected by the author include The Leopard, Doctor Zhivago, The Cardinal, Brideshead Revisited, The Grapes of Wrath, The Remains of the Day, The Twenty-Fifth Hour, The Third Man, Live! and kites in the sky. These adaptations allow the viewer or reader to experience the emotions and challenges of bygone eras in a way that traditional historical texts often cannot achieve.

A scene from ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (John Ford, 1940).

Díaz argues that both literature and cinema not only serve to document historical events, but also have the power to humanize and make these events more accessible to the general public. Through deeply human stories, these adaptations allow the viewer or reader to experience the emotions and challenges of bygone eras in a way that traditional historical texts such as monographs, for example, often cannot achieve. His in-depth and accessible analysis of each novel and film provides readers a valuable tool for exploring the complex relationship between history, culture and religiondemonstrating the power of narrative in shaping our understanding of the world.

The novels and films that the historian has analyzed are characterized because they have had a significant impact both in the cultural and educational spheres. This multidisciplinary approach enriches the historical narrative, providing a more complex and nuanced perspective. Furthermore, Díaz examines how Christianity has influenced the creation and reception of these workshighlighting its role in shaping contemporary Western culture.

Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in ‘Doctor Zhivago’ (David Lean, 1965).

The book is structured to guide the reader through a series of case studies, each focusing on a novel and its corresponding film. This structure allows a direct comparison between different media and how each approaches the same story from unique perspectives. Díaz not only analyzes the content of the works, but also their historical and cultural context, as well as the critical and popular reception they have had.

An example of this is the analysis he does on Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, in which Illustrates the Bolshevik Revolution, World War I, the Russian Civil War, and the rise of communism in Russia. Knowing these events, through the novel and the film, allows us to understand the complex situation in Ukraine today. Furthermore, understanding the historical context of the region, allows readers and viewers to appreciate the history of Ukrainian independence and obtain a more complete view of the current situation.

A scene from ‘Kites in the Sky’ (Marc Forster, 2007).

In summary, through his analysis, Onísimo Díaz shows how Literature and cinema can serve as bridges between the past and the present, helping us better understand our history and culture. So, History, culture and Christianity is an essential work for those interested in the intersection between history, art and religion, offering an innovative vision of how we interpret and value our past through the lens of art.

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