Portrayal of History in Film

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

Unread postby n06guy » Thu Jun 17, 2004 12:56 am

I think he means how they portrayed Achillies when he died. He was shown as a great, misunderstood warrior who loved. Seriously, he died because of a shot to his ankle, not 5 shots to the chest as well, and falling over in that slow hollywood style death.

Most films just dont show the real history. They give you tidbits, but mostly give the audience a highly romanticized version of the whole deal.
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Unread postby Honour and Power » Fri Jun 18, 2004 11:34 am

Troy certainly isn't accurate at all (I had expected more from the director( (the guy who did Das BOOT))

I saw "Troy" a few days ago.... is anyone familiar with the Illiad? There were way too many unforgiveable twists in the movie... Achilles (if you don't want to know the ending then stop reading) doesn't die like he was supposed to... it was awful. Why take something already rich in myth and action and turn it into a twisted, hollywoodized, love story? Achilles doesn't love! Achilles smash!!!


Indeed Achilles isn't supposed to be a friendly, loving guy, he is a warmachine.

Then his death: They didn't make him look immortal, in the end he gets a few arrows in the chest (god knows what Paris was thinking) but according to me Achilles died because of an arrow that was shot in the back of his foot (the arrow by the way was being guided by Zeus (it might also be Ares))

But the most importent thing : THE WAR TOOK 10 YEARS, NOT 3 DAYS!!

the director is also making the Troyans look like the good guys and Agamemnon looks like an evil dictator.

I just love myths.
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Unread postby Lucifer » Sat Jun 26, 2004 10:18 pm

Indeed, I meant how Achilles dies from being shot in the chest. Paris had poisoned arrows and killed him with a single shot guided by one of the gods- Paris was so useless in the myth, the movie made him into some hero near the end when he accurately shot Achilles again and again (like Legolas would've... I don't think it's a coincidence). Meh, the whole movie was a botch to me- they left out the gods entirely. It's not historically more accurate to me to do it that way- the only real record is mostly from Homer- why'd they change so much? Achilles was (although awesome) a foul person who gets what he deserves in the end- they made him out to be some wonderful, somehow compassionate person with only a few flaws...
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Unread postby Tigger of Kai » Sat Aug 07, 2004 6:31 pm

I notice that no one has mentioned my favourite history-based film, Glory. This 1989 film follows the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, whose soldiers were the first blacks to officially serve in an American army unit. This is the only movie that, whenever I see it on TV, I have to stop what I'm doing and watch it in its entirety, and every time I tear up like a little sissy girl. Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington all give fabulous performances. The lesson that I take from the 54th's story is not merely that some things are in fact worth fighting for, nor only that "blacks march as far, bleed as much and die as quick as whites," asRoger Ebert says, nor even that no life lost in pursuit of a just cause is wasted. It is that war can not only take lives, it can give them meaning.

Back before Michael Moore, it seems, blacks who gave their lives fighting for their country were called heroes rather than pitiful dupes.
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Unread postby SesshomaruTenseiga » Sun Aug 08, 2004 2:04 am

I watched that in history class. The 54th Mass.? The ending was sad, and the jerk macho-men had to make fun of it. (Typical) So, yes, it was good, I, however, forgot the name.
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Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Tue Dec 14, 2004 5:51 am

Forgive me, but seeing as Master & Commander is one of my favorite films of the past decade, I must come to its defense! :wink:

Jiang Zhi wrote:My comments on Master and Commander.....

Why in the hell would a French Frigate be sailing the Atlantic and Pacific at the time of the War of 1812?

The French vessel was a privateer, and a privateer is licensed to prey on enemy shipping wherever he finds it; a privateer is not a vessel in the navy proper.

Jiang Zhi wrote:The French and Spanish lost their naval power after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805

The events of the film take place earlier in 1805. The Battle of Trafalgar did not take place until October 15, and Napoleon was still rising to the pinnacle of his shocking success. He still had the amazing victory at Austerlitz to look forward to on December 2.

Jiang Zhi wrote:In the book, the original storyline was the American frigate USS Norfolk. I say, if you base a movie from a book, either do the movie right or if you're going to appeal to the American audience saying "Americans are always the Good Guys and never the Bad Guys", don't do the movie altogether!

Master & Commander is not an American film at all, and would appeal most to a British or Commonwealth audience. In addition, I think that there have been plenty of films during the past couple decades, especially those about the Vietnam War, that seriously question Americans as always being "right" or the "good guys."

Jiang Zhi wrote:There are too many instances where it strayed far from historical accuracy:
- Insubordination by subordinate officers/crew members - biggest example is that the Doctor and that kid Midshipman disobeyed a direct order from the captain and also boarded the ship in the battle

The "Fighting Instructions" of the time allowed for such improvisation during the the chaos of boarding actions, like those of Doctor Maturin and young Lord Blakeney (?name).

Jiang Zhi wrote:- The french frigate was built by Americans.....okay, every historian know the FRANCE built the best ships during the 1800s and the British would capture every one they get a hold on...why would the French even buy a ship built in America? Their designs are streamline and one of the fastest ever built at the time!

Here again we come to the fact that the Acheron was a privateer, and it makes sense that if the captain was aiming at harassing merchant and whaling vessels around South America and the Pacific, it would be safer to slip into those areas having launched from the United States.

Jiang Zhi wrote:- If the War of 1812 is fought between England and Americans (yeah, the Napoleonic War is still going on but it was on land in Europe.....isn't Napoleon in exhile then?)......why the hell would they be fighting a French in a setting that is better for an English vs American engagement?

The film is set in 1805, and the naval war between Britain and France is still very much active. The colonial histories of both nations would answer your question.

Jiang Zhi wrote:- A crewmember said he attended a wedding in Boston and bought a boat there......problem - they have no telephones back then. It would take months for a wedding invatation to get from America to England then, and would take at least 3 weeks to a month of travelling time to America...besides, if you send an RSVP, it would take another set of months back.....also, being a navy crewman, where the hell would you get the money to travel so much? Wouldn't you have been an officer if you have the cash?

Nowhere in the film does it say that the seaman in question had been on board the Surprise and in the Royal Navy for any length of time. A seaman could find work on various merchant vessels and travel wherever he wished.

Jiang Zhi wrote:I'll stop my ranting =p well, here it is, the inaccurate Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World.........if you want a more accurate portrayal of the Royal Navy.....watch Horatio Hornblower! At least they match the time period and such and makes much more sense.......

Hornblower is great, too. :)

Tigger of Kai wrote:I notice that no one has mentioned my favourite history-based film, Glory. This 1989 film follows the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, whose soldiers were the first blacks to officially serve in an American army unit.

Glory is definitely the best film about the American Civil War. It accurately portrays period combat and tactics.
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Unread postby Equinox » Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:05 am

I think one of the problems with movies portraying history a lot of the time is the tendency of Hollywood filmmakers to think of a movie in terms of how well it will do in the box office, and how entertaining and "watchable" it will be. The insertion of Achilles' romance in Troy is a great example of Hollywood-ization, for example, probably intended to make the movie more entertaining rather than more accurate.

I absolutely agree about Glory. Not only was it a good historical portrayal, but it was also a good movie cinematographically, with many strong performances and an excellent score. And I always sit down and watch it again as well, I'm glad I'm not the only one!
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Unread postby Mistelten » Sun Dec 19, 2004 7:29 pm

I think Troy is a special case. It's kind of a gray area in history anyway. They weren't trying to show actual history, but to make a quasi-mythological story more believable and interesting. I appreciate it for what it's worth.

Glory was well made and very entertaining.


On another note, has anyone heard anything about next year's historical films? One that's confirmed is 'Kingdom of Heaven,' by Ridley Scott and starring Orlando Bloom.
There is talk of two movies depicting Hannibal. One with Denzel Washington and the other with Vin Diesel. The tentative title for the Denzel movie is 'The African,' and Vin's is 'Hannibal the Conquerer.'
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Unread postby Mike » Wed Jan 05, 2005 4:13 am

Tianshan Zi wrote:Glory is definitely the best film about the American Civil War. It accurately portrays period combat and tactics.

I haven't Glory yet, but I think that Gods and Generals was a fairly accurate presentation of the events preceding Gettysburg. It mainly follows Lt. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain through The First Battle of Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. For some reason they cut out Antietam.
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Unread postby Mistelten » Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:17 am

I want to see Gods and Generals, but one I really want to see is The Hunley. Do a little research on that. The story of the Hunley is a heroic, yet a very tragic one.

Did anyone see the movie Alexander? I just want to say that they really did seem to go for accuraccy, but spent too long on minor scenes and unimportant events. I like the female form as much as the next guy, but the wedding night scene really makes you wonder about a lack of directoral restraint.
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