This essay takes issue with newspaper pundits, academic film critics and historians who seek in their respective professional ways to bar 'history' films from counting as 'good cinema' or who decry cinema's capacity for doing 'real history'. Paying particular attention to the reappearance of the figures of the lost child and the black tracker in recent Australian cinema, we propose that history films be understood in terms of spectatorship rather than historical representation. Drawing on concepts of shock, recognition and nachtraglichkeit, we approach lost child and black tracker films as deferred revisions that invite the viewer to perform a cinematic kind of backtracking—that is, going over old ground in ways that may lead one to retract or reverse one's opinion.
Australian Historical Studies Vol. 37, Issue 128, p. 35-54