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Historical inaccuracies in movies
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Hawkwing74
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Joined: 29 Mar 2004
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Location: Schaumburg, IL

PostPosted: 04.05.2004 3:34 pm    Post subject: Historical inaccuracies in movies Reply with quote

I watched Born on the Fourth of July for the second time this weekend. I was wondering if anyone knew of any sites that specialize in explaining the historical inaccuracies in movies. A lot of web pages say inaccuracies exist in various movies, but they don't seem to say what they are.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 04.05.2004 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nope, sorry. But I do tend to avoid watching movies as history lessons, so I'm usually not paying attention to historical accuracy, unless of course the movie veers off egregiously.
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Hawkwing74
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PostPosted: 04.05.2004 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.movie-mistakes.com/



has a few, but mostly they look for errors such as "he was holding the gun in this hand and then it switched magically."



beware popups and other debris.


Last edited by Hawkwing74 on 04.05.2004 8:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Fred C. Dobbs
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PostPosted: 04.05.2004 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't watch films for historical accuracy. I guess that's why I liked Gangs of New York? Confused
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Hawkwing74
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PostPosted: 04.05.2004 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think in the broad picture they should be accurate, because we all know that most Americans don't know their history.
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Fred C. Dobbs
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PostPosted: 04.05.2004 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hawkwing74 wrote:
I think in the broad picture they should be accurate, because we all know that most Americans don't know their history.




Obviously, if we are watching a civil war film, it wouldn't make sense to have planes dropping bombs on the confederate army, but I hear people complain about a lot of films because of minor historical inaccuracies. Ever see Red Dawn? Laughing Wink
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Hawkwing74
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PostPosted: 04.05.2004 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Red Dawn, yeah, I lived in terror of the Commies when I was little. Very Happy

What's the inaccuracy in that movie as an "alternate reality?"
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matt header
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PostPosted: 04.05.2004 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most important to me is if a movie sweeps me up in its contained world, in its limited story. If it successfully does this, it can have loads of historical errors and I can still appreciate it.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 04.05.2004 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hawkwing74 wrote:
I think in the broad picture they should be accurate, because we all know that most Americans don't know their history.


I don't think artists ought to be chastised or otherwise limited because some people in the audience are ill informed. It is not the exclusive responsibility of artists to educate America; the responsibility for learning historical facts lies instead with individual viewers themselves.



I agree with NW that I don't watch movies for their historical lessons--I'd rather rely on a more objective medium for such info. I will say that many films inspire me to learn more about events, which relates back to how individual viewers ultimately shoulder the burden of knowledge.



Artists sometimes offer "interpretations" of events that function not as history lessons but as something else, such as speculation, drama, social commentary, etc. One of the reasons art matters is because it can transcend facts--sometimes "historical" truths are less significant or less illuminating than the artistic and human truths that can be uncovered within them.



Consider Oliver Stone's JFK and Nixon. Many pundits decried their lack of "factual evidence," but they missed the point. Take JFK, which does not record history but comment on it. Stone's idea, as an artist, was to call the Warren Commission's report ludicrous. His barrage of possible alternatives--some actual, some speculated, some imaginary--relied on exaggeration to suggest how ridiculous it is to assert no conspiracy was involved with Kennedy's assassination. It may be rotten history, but the film is also bold, mesmerizing, provocative, thoughtful art.



Unless a movie purports to be wholly accurate, I'm not particularly concerned with discrepancies. I even allow documentaries leeway--some are objective journalism that should be accurate, but others are subjective editorials. What's important is that the artist has strayed for a valid artistic reason, and that I know the difference.



Side note, Hawkwing: I have an interesting book called Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, published by the Society of American Historians. According to the dust jacket: "Sixty of the world's most lauded historical writers look beneath the celluloid surface of popular movies to examine the relationship between film and historical record." JFK's in there, along with many other popular historical dramas: All the President's Men, Apocalypse Now, Malcolm X, Mississippi Burning, Gandhi, Patton, The Longest Day, The Grapes of Wrath, Bonnie and Clyde, Glory, Gone With the Wind, Henry V, The Last of the Mohicans, etc. etc.
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Hawkwing74
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PostPosted: 04.05.2004 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome, I will look into purchasing that book.
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mfritschel
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PostPosted: 04.06.2004 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What could take this one step further and discuss what history is really correct or accurate. Are movies historically accurate to whom? For is not history written by the powerful. For example, people could spend hours debating the accuracy of The Passion of the Christ and by the end of it neither would be the wiser or really have learned anything. Also, as far as history in general, what many of us have been taught is just really one side of the story, so in a very Deridian sense what really is history and are movies really presenting history? What are they presenting at all anyway?
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 04.16.2004 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom Cruise's next movie should be interesting. He plays an American who joined the RAF during the Battle of Britain. His historical character, despite being a hotshot racing driver and Olympic gold medallist, was only involved in the war for four weeks before being wounded in an air raid and dying the next day. He also has no confirmed kills.



Unfortunately, word has it that 'Churchill' will be asking the US for lots of pilots to come save Britain, having lost most of their own. Oh joy. I'm not a patriotic Brit, but I do find this very depressing.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 04.16.2004 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm slightly peeved at this also. It could be a great film, but first Tom Cruise - an American - saves backwards China in The Last Samurai, and now Tom Cruise - an American - will come to the rescue of the nation of England! The mindset behind that disturbs me a bit.
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 04.16.2004 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
I'm slightly peeved at this also. It could be a great film, but first Tom Cruise - an American - saves backwards China in The Last Samurai, and now Tom Cruise - an American - will come to the rescue of the nation of England! The mindset behind that disturbs me a bit.




...Japan... Wink
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 04.16.2004 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd be more wary of them if these films actually asked to be taken seriously as history; the cultural assertions of Last Samurai would be more troubling if they weren't so simplistic to begin with. Movies--American, British, Japanese--have been imposing identification figures since nations developed national cinemas. Why quibble with Boy Scout stories? Can't Tom Cruise in Last Samurai represent "heroes" rather than "Americans"?



Eric
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