Oliver Stone, the director of several popular war films, spoke at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Thursday about his recent Showtime documentary series, “The Untold History of the United States.”
Stone directed movies such as “Platoon” and “Born on the Fourth of July.” He is now traveling to different universities to promote his series.
Stone and Peter Kuznick, an associate professor at American University who conceived the idea of the show with Stone, discussed the series following a showing of the last chapter.
The episode shown went through a series of events that occurred in the United States from the start of George Bush’s presidency to the beginning of President Obama’s second term. It mainly revealed how the U.S. continues to repeat historical patterns in terms of making mistakes in issues of foreign policy and homeland security.
“It was really educational for me, and I wanted to understand if Bush was an apparition or if he was indeed an exaggerated continuation of the pattern,” Stone said. “What I found is that he is a continuation of a pattern, and that’s what’s very disturbing.”
Stone and Kuznick also brought up issues such as U.S. aggressiveness in situations like the Iraq war, as well as controversy over high military spending and drone technology. Yet, Kuznick discussed positive aspects of U.S. history and progressive trends, mentioning Madison’s history of political passion.
“We’re looking for periods that were also more hopeful,” Kuznick said. “While in some ways we’re telling the dark side of American history, there is also a positive side to American history, and that’s what we saw here in Madison recently when people tried to resist Walker’s plan.”
Kuznick also emphasized the importance of improving history education in the U.S. and how he and Stone are trying to reach out to varying demographics and ages with different media forms of their series, such as a children’s book and graphic novel.
During the question section, an audience member who is an aspiring filmmaker asked Stone about the production side of the series.
“Tell it fast, tell it excitingly...” Stone said.