I liked the documentary Murder at Harvard. I didn’t love it but it was entertaining. I am not a huge fan of the reenactment. I think it works sometimes but in this case I think it did take away from the seriousness of history. It made it a bit hokey. I am not a big fan of the type of conjecture that is presented in this documentary. When Schama wonders the type of face he made when he was outside his door is ridiculous and really not important.
The book has more info on the backgrounds of the individuals and other information. This is not unusual when books are turned into film. The book was a bit hard to read. I have read a number of books about court cases and it seems to work best when the facts are presented in a way that does not bring up conjecture. The author does tend to have his ideas about who the guilty party is but it is usually followed up by hard evidence. But even books leave out facts in a case that
She may find not important but you do.
Two things seem to happen when history is presented in a less traditional format. People who are more versed in academic history tend to protest against it. They question its validity. They ask what knowledge or education the author/presenter of the story has and how that affects the validity of the subject. They question his sources to see if the sources are valid. This is their job. But history presented in les traditional formats does not mean it is bad history.
Less traditional formats tend to be more interesting for the mass culture. The mass culture does not generally have the interest or knowledge to hear about history at the level of academia. It comes off as boring and bland and sometimes it really is! But this less traditional format makes the mass culture more interested. In the interview with the makers of Murder at Harvard said that it would be great if their documentary caused people to become interested in history and went to the library. The key is to keep historical integrity while making history interesting to mass culture.