WITH THE ADVENT of the new (and rather self-contradictory) form of entertainment known as "docudrama," the borders between history and fabrication are more actively contested than ever. Many Americans now apparently gather their notions of what happened in the past directly from movies and television, and indistinct lines are drawn between truth, conjecture and outright fabrication. There are advanced thinkers, self-described "postmodernists," who profess to be untroubled by this. They take the view that because history is necessarily a reconstruction, and often a very subjective one, its inevitable "indeterminacy" has at last rid us of the impression that any history is reliable. Therefore, they say, we might as well construct it to suit our fancy, fact and fiction being equally invented, or as they like to say "parabolic."
Certainly the postmodern view of history gets a constant workout in the American movie industry, with mixed results that range from dismal to inspiring.
Consider Spike Lee film Malcolm X, for instance. The movie