Oliver Stone critical of American history lessons during visit to Stevenson

 
 
Posted5/5/2016 5:40 AM
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  • Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone speaks during a news conference prior to a film screening of his documentary called "Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the United States" at Stevenson High School Wednesday night.

      Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone speaks during a news conference prior to a film screening of his documentary called "Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the United States" at Stevenson High School Wednesday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • People filled the West auditorium at Stevenson High School Wednesday night to view Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone's documentary called "Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the United States."

      People filled the West auditorium at Stevenson High School Wednesday night to view Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone's documentary called "Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the United States." Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone criticized how American students learn about history Wednesday during a visit to Lincolnshire's Stevenson High School.

"Kids are smart," Stone told a small group of reporters before a screening of an episode of his "The Untold History of the United States" documentary series. "The thing is, they just don't have any exciting history courses."

Instructors can change that, Stone challenged, "by telling the truth."

Stone -- known for examining painful chapters of American history in "JFK," "Platoon" and "Born on the Fourth of July" -- took another swing at the nation's past in the 2012 documentary series, which aired on the Showtime cable network.

He was joined at Stevenson by American University Professor Peter Kuznick, his co-writer on the series and several companion books.

They screened an episode about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.

The episode, narrated by Stone, questioned whether the bombings were necessary in pushing Japan toward surrender, especially in light of the simultaneous invasion of Japanese territory by the Soviet Union, attacks that have been all but ignored in U.S. school books.

Kuznick said they chose that episode for the large audience at Stevenson because President Obama is considering visiting Hiroshima later this month -- something a sitting president has never done since the bombing.

If people learn the "real history" of the war, Kuznick said, they will be able to "move forward with a little bit clearer vision."

"We're saying open your mind ... and think more broadly about alternatives," Kuznick told reporters.

Stone acknowledged the series contains some of his and Kuznick's opinions, but he insisted the series was thoroughly fact-checked.

Stone and Kuznick fielded questions from the audience after the screening.

Stone and Kuznick have discussed the series at universities and other venues around the world. The duo appeared at Highland Park High in 2013.

The Stevenson appearance was made possible by Arie Serota, a Stevenson High alumnus who later was one of Kuznick's graduate students.

History wasn't the only thing on Stone's mind Wednesday. A Chicago Cubs fan since childhood, Stone told reporters he's "shocked" by the team's early success this season.

He called the team's historic futility "a useless trail of tears."

"I would love to see this 100-year curse terminate," Stone said.

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