What is the connection between the historical record and the film Revolution (1985) starring Al Pacino? I need help forming my thesis statement for my 800-word history essay. In particular, the...

What is the connection between the historical record and the film Revolution (1985) starring Al Pacino?

I need help forming my thesis statement for my 800-word history essay. In particular, the assignment should insert the missing African-American voice from the film and expand on the experience of the film’s main character, Tom Dobb, who represents the poor/laboring class among the soldiers. I am required to use at least five primary sources from the Voices Reader in Chapters 2 and 4 or 5 and the movie Revolution. Any help with forming a thesis statement would be greatly appreciated.

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In formulating your thesis, you should think about the ways in which the film accurately or inaccurately depicts the experience of the working person (represented by Tom Dobb in the film) during the American Revolution and the way in which the concerns of African-Americans are not represented in the film. Your thesis might address both of these points.

First, try to think about the ways in which the film captures the experience of working-class soldiers in the American Revolution and compare these experiences to your primary source documents. In the film, for example, Tom Dobb receives a note for $70 from the American government for his boat, but, after the war, he only receives $40. He also never receives the land he was promised for fighting in the war. How does Dobb's experience compare with that of the real-life Joseph Plumb Martin, who fought in the Continental Army (this is one of your documents)? Martin feels that soldiers should have received land after the war and writes of the Continental Army's officers, “The truth was, none cared for them; the country was served, and faithfully served, and that was all that was deemed necessary. It was, soldiers, look to yourselves; we want no more of you." Your thesis can compare the experiences of real-life soldiers such as Martin with that of Tom Dobb and his son, Ned, in the movie. 

The experience of African Americans is not included in the movie, and your thesis can comment on this absence. In the body of your paper, you can examine primary sources such as Benjamin Banneker's 1791 letter to Jefferson in which he takes Jefferson to task for denying black people the same rights Jefferson demanded for Americans in the Declaration of Independence. Banneker writes the following:

"In detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves."

When composing your thesis, think about whether the film does justice to the actual experiences of African Americans and the poor during the Revolution. Does the film accurately capture the experiences of the working class and African Americans during the Revolution? By answering this question, you will be able to produce a solid thesis that will provide a roadmap for the rest of your paper and that will include the necessary documents.