Notes on Movies for Which a Learning Guide has Not
Been Written -- Titles Starting with the Letter "Z"

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For the meanings of the initials in brackets at the end of many of the entries, click here.

Z    (1969) MPAA Rating: PG; Director: Costa-Gavras.     We are told that this movie is historically accurate. It is set in the time just before a military coup in Greece. The plot focuses on efforts by a prosecutor and a journalist to expose the murder of a liberal politician by right wing militarists. It is a fascinating film but we feel that it is too obscure for a young audience. [NA] (JAF)

Zapruder Film of Kennedy Assassination    (1963) No MPAA Rating; Director: Abraham Zapruder.     This film is listed in the National Film Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress as a "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" film.

Zoolander    (2001) MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and drug references; Director: Ben Stiller.    Suggested by a teacher for younger children. [LI]

Zoot Suit    (1981); MPAA Rating: R; Director: Luis Valdez.     Shows marijuana smoking. It is inaccessible. [PD] (JAF)

Zorba the Greek    (1964) No MPAA Rating; Director: Michael Cacoyannis.     An all time great but its horrific stoning-to-death scene and the sexually suggestive scenes with adults who are elderly or in late middle age are often a put off for children. [PD] (JAF & DEF)

Zulu    (1964) No MPAA Rating; Director: Cy Endfield.    See the section on this movie in History Goes to the Movies.

Zulu Dawn    (1979) MPAA Rating: PG; Director: Douglas Hickox.    See the section on this movie in History Goes to the Movies.


  • History by Hollywood: The Use and Abuse of the American Past by Robert Brent Toplin, University of Illinois Press, Urbana & Chicago, 1996;

  • History Goes To The Movies by Joseph Roquemore, Broadway Books, 1999.

  • Reel v. Real: How Hollywood Turns Fact into Fiction by Frank Sanello, Taylor Trade Publishing, 2003. This book emphasizes the negative in its reviews. TWM and Mr. Sanello come to films with a different perspective. TWM looks for teaching opportunities and Mr. Sanello insists on historical purity, asserting that it is proven that "Hollywood treats history like an ugly stepchild that needs to be tarted up with fictional additions." p. xi. An excellent example of these differences are the comments on "All the President's Men". Mr. Sanello (pp. 144 - 248) pans the movie because it focuses on the efforts of Woodward and Bernstein and ignores all of the other people and institutions other than the press who cooperated in exposing the scandal. TWM notes this problem and urges adults to talk to children about it. However, TWM focuses on what the film gets right, which is the story of the dogged efforts of two reporters that lead to one of the most important news stories in American history.

    Another example of the different approaches between TWM and Mr. Sanello is the treatment of "Glory". At pp. 88 - 92 Mr. Sanello acknowledges that "Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson said that Glory, the story of a black infantry unit that stormed a Southern fort during the Civil War, was 'not only the first feature film to treat the role of black soldiers in the American Civil War; it is also the most powerful and historically accurate movie about that war ever made.'" For this film, TWM read the many letters written by Colonel Shaw, the white colonel who led the regiment. We have determined for ourselves the accuracy of this film. Despite all of these strengths, Mr. Sanello ends his review on a critical note pointing to the one major criticism of the film, that it focuses on the white colonel and that the black enlisted men who made up the unit are fictional. His last words are, "Paging Spike Lee ..." Mr. Lee is a black director who would, presumably, not have made this error.

    Reel v. Real is a valuable resource for information about the historical accuracy of films. (It would have been more useful had it been footnoted.) However, teachers and parents should bear in mind the different perspective of an historian who seeks historical accuracy for its own sake and teachers and parents who seek to turn the storytelling power of the movie industry to the service of education.

  • The Motion Picture Prescription: 200 Movies To Help You Heal Life's Problem's by Dr. Gary Solomon, MPH, MSW, Ph.D, Aslan Publishing, 1995. This book consists of brief comments by a practicing psychologist on how movies can help with psychological problems.

  • Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies edited by Mark C. Carnes, Henry Holt and Company, 1995. This book is well researched and its conclusions and recommendations are reliable.

  • Reel Justice- The Courtoom Goes to the Movies by Paul Bergman and Michael Asimow, Andrews and McMeel, 1996. This book is well researched and its conclusions and recommendations are reliable.

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