Friday, March 21, 2008

Not Endorsed by Wikipedia

In a break from watching NCAA hoops today, I was signing out from my Yahoo! e-mail account when I noticed the following headline: “10 Most Historically Inaccurate Movies.” Well, twist my arm. I couldn’t help myself. I clicked the link and skimmed the list of “films that make your high school history teacher cry.”

The Patriot is there. Braveheart, too. Apocalypto, three. So apparently Mel Gibson is history’s arch nemesis, though the Yahoo! staff wasn’t ballsy enough to add The Passion Of The Christ to the list by questioning, say, Jesus’ rather milky skin tones. That would have pissed people off, and that’s not the reaction Yahoo! is looking for with this fluffy filler.

And fluff is what it is. In general I’m not a big fan of the top-10 fad, but lite fare isn’t such a bad thing on a Friday, so I thought I’d share the link. My first reaction reading the list was disappointment that almost all the movies were fairly recent, suggesting a pedestrian research effort. Then again, I’d really only quibble with the presence of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is included in a lame effort to be cute.

So, I ask you: What affront to history is left off the list? Maybe my brain is pooped after a long week, but I couldn’t think of any obvious oversights.

Of course, if it were up to me I’d include Knocked Up. I know, I know: it’s not a “historical” movie. But in the history of mankind have you ever seen an inconsiderate, overweight, penniless slob like the dude on the right (below) land an intelligent, successful, charming babe like the woman on the left?

Talk about inaccurate!


Unknown said...

You've discussed it recently, but a movie that might make your history teacher cringe is "JFK," in that many viewers probably give more credence to the conspiracy theories in that movie than they deserve.

Mark said...

Fun list. I'd add "Beowulf."

And as long as we're calling out historically dubious Mel Gibson movies, how about "Lethal Weapon?" Those guys went four whole movies without beating up somebody just for the fun of it.

Re inconsiderate slobs landing babes: any date Moseley's ever had must qualify as a mismatch. Hell, I've dated over my own head my whole life.

Allison said...

You are SO right. If I do say so myself.

Unknown said...

I have no response to that. The truth is a deep, punishing dagger to my heart.

Richard Bellamy said...

For the most part, films with historical settings nowadays try to get it right - with the exceptions of entertainments like "The Patriot" and "10,000 B.C." John Wayne's "The Alamo" may capture the spirit of the Texans' last stand, but the final assault in the film is a highly overblown version of what really happened - which was done right - pre-dawn darkness and all - in the 2004 "The Alamo." The classic historical films of the 30s and 40s are famous for being ruthlessly casual about the facts. In the Errol Flynn film "They Died With Their Boots On," Custer doesn't even attack a village in the Little Bighorn sequence; he is caught out in the middle of nowhere and surrounded. "Little Big Man" in 1970 didn't even get it right - though the location is accurate. It took a T.V. mini-series "Son of the Morning Star" to be mostly accurate about how the Battle of the Little Bighorn happened. Then, along comes the HBO version of "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" - based on a time-honored work of non-fiction - and the opening sequence of the Little Bighorn is pure fantasy - the U.S. cavalry attacking the village on foot! This historical inaccuracy made me want to break the DVD in two! You can kind of forgive the historical fantasies of the 30s and 40s, but nowadays a film that sells itself as a historical film has got to be accurate. Some might snicker at the fictional love story inserted in the Titanic setting, but Cameron's "Titanic" is meticulously researched and highly accurate as far as the ship and the sinking.

Jason Bellamy said...

Mark & A-Ross: Let's be fair. Rob was never penniless.

Hokahey: Great post! It's kind of interesting that this follows the "brownface/blackface" discussion because so much of it comes down to intent. "10,000 B.C." makes no effort to be historically accurate – though that's an ill-advised title for a movie making that decision. If you go to see something like "The Alamo" you should be able to expect general accuracy, even though the theatrics of events will obviously be enhanced.

Along those lines, in the Yahoo! top 10 I thought it was a little petty to ridicule "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" for Elizabeth's attire and riding style when rallying her troops on horseback. At least she was there. That's the important part.

But having said that, each time I am forced to endure yet another pre-battle motivational speech from someone on horseback I become a step closer to gnawing off one of my legs and beating myself to death with it.

Fox said...

Jason... true observation about *Knocked Up*. I've always felt that way about Woody Allen's films. Even when it's a surrogate Woody like Jason Biggs scoring someone like Christina Ricci (sure, she may have fallen in beauty, but in *Anything Else* she's stunning...

Then again, Allen makes me laugh so much, I'd probably have sex with him too.

As far as historically inaccurate, it would have been more interesting if they'd gone after documentaries instead of *Apocaplypto*. At least fictional films are historically fictional. What I detest about 95% of docs. is that they feign reality and truth while carrying an air of moral and intellectual superiority.

I'd rather watch a Howard Hawks war film, and then do my reading on the side.

Jason Bellamy said...

Fox: Great point on Woody Allen, but here's the thing: not only would you have sex with him, he'd have sex with you. Which is to say that even more asinine than Katherine Heigl's Alison giving Seth Rogan's Ben chance after chance is that he's just flat disinterested. Remember, this is a dude who spends his days charting nudity in movies. Yet presented with the chance to have regular sex with a living, breathing babe, he's indifferent. At least Woody characters know a good thing when they see one...even if those babes should know better.