Topics in History: History through Film

A Southport student review of the 2015 movie Straight Outta Compton

Topics is a course at Southport High School, taught by Kevin Sanders, that analyzes major events from United States and world history through Hollywood films that attempt to portray those events. Students investigate historical documents and other sources to determine if a film is historically accurate.

The goal is for students to develop deeper understandings of the historical discipline while generating questions about the way the world is around them, along with watching classical films that have graced American and international screens. This week, student Kaden Davis reviews the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton.

By Kaden Davis

The 2015 film Straight Outta Compton has many unique film techniques throughout such as lighting, camera angles and historical events that really bring in the cinematic experience. These make it a very well put together film. The camera angles and lighting play big parts of this movie. The techniques used show the time period by showing the equipment they used in recording for example. An example of a lighting technique is when the lights are shining on the men in the studio lounge and the brighter portion of the room is where a rapper that makes clean slow music is located. The darker parts of the studio are of the men from N.W.A. representing their more upbeat explicit music. If you are not familiar with their music, most of the songs they produced were full of cursing.

Not only are the film techniques and lighting big parts of the movie but also the history of the film. This film is about the Black community and how young African American males were treated. The way these men were treated wasn’t exactly like most other black males around the country. These men from N.W.A. made a few songs about how the police treated them and a song that “dissed” the police forces. This film not only brought to life the brutality and racism that young black men faced but it gave the community something that made them want to use their voice and speak upon the subject. The movie influenced the African American community to stand up to the treatment received no matter how radical it was to create a voice.

Straight Outta Compton is one of the most historically accurate biopics. One of the reasons the film was so accurate is due to the fact that N.W.A. stars Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E’s widow were involved in the production of the movie. It is obviously going to have the “Hollywood flair” like most biopic films, but there are very few scenes that didn’t actually happen or didn’t happen in the same way. One scene that was false in the film is when Dr. Dre is arrested in the Dooto’s parking lot for defending his younger brother Tyree, when in reality he was arrested for thousands of dollars in unpaid parking tickets for his Mazda RX7.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone of age. It has great historical events, film techniques and a great story. Not only that but I love the fact that it helped bring a voice to African Americans and influence change in the community.