Portrayal of History in Film

Discuss historical events and information concerning any culture, time, or location in our world (or even the frontier beyond).

Re: Portrayal of History in Film

Unread postby musashika » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:49 pm

Hello Dong Zhou, and thank you for the welcome.
Perhaps I came across a bit stuffy there. Didn't mean to. Perhaps one of my problems with history in entertainment is that so many people get their history from that source and our history is so valuable to us it should be passed down intact I do understand also that the real story is usually boring - lacking in action and personal drama and it needs to be tarted up a bit with false dialogue and so on. I accept that.
What I object to is something like the following: In the film Zulu, private Hook was presented as a shiftless no-good when in actual fact he was a good soldier, a good comrade and won a VC at that action. Why change that and make him look bad?

Add a bit of dialogue by all means. Create a small scenario to add to the drama, but why assassinate a good man?
Like many others, I enjoy a good yarn, don't want to be a spoilsport or party-pooper, but I just wish they'd not change it all about the way they often do. Credit where it's due - even to the enemy when he's fought well, shown courage, loyalty and fortitude.
Hail the man.
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Re: Portrayal of History in Film

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:48 pm

Sorry, my reply was one of those annoying "half addressing the person, half inspired to a general post on the subject." We all have bemoaned Hollywood (though as I said, our target should be wider) at certain points playing fast and loose with history. We all have that "really? Did they really have to do that with this event?" sometimes

I do get why the examples you have given are frustrating, I have certainly had (not watched Zulu) similar thoughts in other films (not that I can recall them. :oops: ) Why do they do it? Well with Black Hawk Down, I don't think we need polling experts to guess which rescuing team goes down better with a US audience and sends a better message to rest of the world.

With private Hook and so on? Leaving aside people (or representative person) a writer/director/playwright feels needs a good kicking for whatever reason, compare and contrast to the hero. This can be really well done with two complex figures or this can be, and often is, a rather simply good vs evil (possibly easier and possibly more popular). The hero is everything a man should be (not always the one they would marry their daughter to but still), handsome, brave, can drink a hundred beers without getting drink, good at heart, a crack shot/warrior, skilled at all manly things, he can seduce any woman blah blah blah. The person involved (either the outright villain or the nuisance untrustworthy figure who is sharing same side as the hero) is the exact opposite to really shine how super manly/heroic our hero is, a coward, inept in all things bar what is needed for the plot, not good at manly pursuits, bad with women, possibly of different race/religion/sexuality, maybe effeminate. It makes for a great shot of what the people involved felt is the epitome of manliness vs what they see as the very opposite (and why such entertainment can now feel dated or offensive depending what they decided was bad). Fairness doesn't come into it, the film wants a baddie and will find someone to fill that role

Perhaps one of my problems with history in entertainment is that so many people get their history from that source and our history is so valuable to us it should be passed down intact I do understand also that the real story is usually boring - lacking in action and personal drama and it needs to be tarted up a bit with false dialogue and so on. I accept that.


Sure, it is a problem. Even when they know the play, the book, the film is not accurate, people tend to view it as more accurate then it is. Shakespeare and the three kingdoms versions of events are embedded deep in their respective countries minds when think of the relevant time periods. People think they can spot the inaccuracies more then they actually can

I disagree that history is boring (boringly taught perhaps) but with some adjustments (throw in a romance and female warriors in battle stuff, glam up the war to what people expect, merge things to fit into the 2 hours and for accessibility, add conversational dialogue including humour) one can do a very accurate play/film/TV show. People write/produce history (or blatantly borrow it to inspire their own work like Game of Thrones borrows from history) stuff becuase it has battles, intrigue and plots, romance, sometimes a mystery, strong and very intresting characters, quotes one can use or amend, you can fit a message or political purpose around it. It is perhaps less history is boring but history isn't always helpful to what you want the film/play/novel to do :wink:
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Portrayal of History in Film

Unread postby musashika » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:50 pm

it' so refreshing to read such good writing.

I find myself essentially in agreement with you here.
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