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 Koichi » Wed Jan 05, 2005 4:51 pm

Let's make this a sticky topic.
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Unread postby Omega52 » Sat Jan 08, 2005 7:34 am

The Last Samurai I think is a great movie. I personally have no problems with it's extensive innacuracies, that is because I know the history pretty well. I only have problems with how people beleive that to be true.

IE
People often ask me. "Why is The Last Samurai Tom Cruise?" The movie is called The Last Samurai, but in Japanese there are no plural nouns, we weren't gonna call it "The Last Samurais", that would irritate the japanese viewers and the people that know that fact. Even though Captain Algren was not a Samurai in the movie technically, If you look at it from a historic point of view, knowing how racist Japan was(I don't know about how it is now, I've never been there, but I hear it is still a pretty racist country) Algren would have not been respected by the Samurai, he would more likely be killed by extremist Samurai, even if he was accepted by Katsumoto, the Shishi would certainly want his head.

Also people tend to think it common knowledge that Samurai refused to use guns. Even though the movie says "Katsumoto refuses to dishonor himself by use of firearms". People think Samurai dawned full armor and charged to their death. I shouln't have to tell you guys about how well fought out the battles were and how the Samurai had just as good weaponry as the Imperial Army. It's said Katsumoto is based off of Saigo Takemori, but he hardly seems like Takemori to me, Takemori was a member of the Imperial Army and he led the final rebellion at Satsuma, he killed himself in the forest when he realized his defeat and his retainers hid his head from the Imperial Army, as in the old days, they feared the enemy was looking to take his head. I think the only corrolation between Saigo Takemori and Katsumoto was that they both led the final assault.

Nathan Algrens character I hear was based off of Jules Brunet a french O-yatoi gaikokujin(the foreigners who assisted in the modernization of Japan) He was hired to train Imperial Soldiers, he stayed for about a year and then the Bosshin War happened in 1868, when the shogunate army was defeated by the imperial army, an imperial decree was issued that ordered all French O-yatoi gaikokujin to leave the country. He resigned from the French Army and joined the remaining shogunate forces. He worked with the shogunate army until June of 1869, the war of Hakodate. The Shogunate forces were outnumbered 10 to 1. Brunet was sent back to France for trail, but was accepted back into the French Army during the war between France and Prussia and appointed Chef d'Etat Major(Chief of staff). The samurai were uniformed and armed with 'modern' weapons, they were not shooting bows and arrows.
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Unread postby Mistelten » Mon Jan 10, 2005 4:42 am

I don't think they should have cut the 'Ujyo beheads a disrespectful peasant' scene(see special features). It kind of made the point that the world of the Samurai was often brutal, and there was a definite caste system. They made the one side look a little too saintly.

I don't like it when they make one sided 'history' films. I think the worst ever was The Messenger. In that movie, all of the French were all righteous and brave with shining armor, and the English were all pre-Norman era, raw meat eating, corpse raping, loud in their pain, and overall inept barbarians. I'm not exaggerating(although the film most certainly does). I think the only films as one sided and ludicrously nationalistic(in a twisted way) as that were the Nazi propaganda films. I had heard that it was an 'interesting' movie, and it was, to say the least.
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Unread postby Mike » Mon Jan 10, 2005 4:39 pm

Anyone notice this??
In Enemy at the Gates:
1) The Russians speak like Brits
2) The Germans speak like Americans

Both I observed, accent-wise...yes..poor grammar...
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Unread postby Koichi » Mon Jan 10, 2005 6:18 pm

crashman wrote:I don't think they should have cut the 'Ujyo beheads a disrespectful peasant' scene(see special features). It kind of made the point that the world of the Samurai was often brutal, and there was a definite caste system. They made the one side look a little too saintly.

I don't like it when they make one sided 'history' films. I think the worst ever was The Messenger. In that movie, all of the French were all righteous and brave with shining armor, and the English were all pre-Norman era, raw meat eating, corpse raping, loud in their pain, and overall inept barbarians. I'm not exaggerating(although the film most certainly does). I think the only films as one sided and ludicrously nationalistic(in a twisted way) as that were the Nazi propaganda films. I had heard that it was an 'interesting' movie, and it was, to say the least.


I don't think the Messenger was that one-sided. Both sides were portrayed as pretty medieval. Yes the French were defending their country but not all of them were knights in shining armor. Remember there was that one guy who took an English prisoner but wanted to smash all his teeth. Joan bought the prisoner with her family ring and released him. He was typical of the battle-hardened soldiers, used to the brutality of warfare that was foreign to Joan.

Not all the English were meat-eating barbarians. Aside from the soldier that raped Katherine's corpse I'd say they were on the same level as the French. Glasdale and his officers were every bit as well dressed as the French and aside from their swearing, they weren't aymore barbaric than their French enemies.


As for one-sided portrayals I was a bit disappointed with the Thin Red Line. OK, they don't have to have major Japanese characters. However, once the Americans broke into their lines, they were portrayed as skinny, loin-cloth wearing, whimpering inepts. I didn't see any of the bushido spirit that I read about in the books. Early in the movie, the Americans tried taking a heavily-fortified ridge but due to hidden Japanese bunkers, they were driven back with huge losses. The colonel then sends 7 guys to "take out" the ridge. Originally I thought they were going to sneak up on the Japanese and locate their bunkers.

No. Those seven guys literally took out positions that an entire battalion failed to do. As the 7 guys approached the ridge, Japanese MGs fired on them, pinning them down. In any given scenario that should've doomed the piecemeal group but instead, they held their positions. The Japanese then took to sending 1-2 guys out at a time, armed with rifles, charging screaming at 7 guys hiding behind some rocks. The 7 guys started firing back with handguns killing the Japanese one by one. A moment later the Japanese inside the bunkers panicked (maybe they thought there were more Americans?) and fled. The 7 guys overran the bunkers, grenading some and capturing others. Victory by 7 guys for the loss of one wounded.
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Unread postby Mistelten » Tue Jan 18, 2005 3:11 pm

Remember 'Alexander'? Apparently it's doing well these days.
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Unread postby SYL » Tue Jan 18, 2005 4:42 pm

The Comic Book Hero wrote:Anyone notice this??
In Enemy at the Gates:
1) The Russians speak like Brits
2) The Germans speak like Americans

Both I observed, accent-wise...yes..poor grammar...


This is easy.

1. The main Russians are played by British actors (Jude Law and chums).
2. The main German is played by an American actor (the rather excellent Ed Harris).

There's no conspiracy or anything. It's a European film, so European actors understandably feature heavily.

My favourite historical films are probably Kurosawa's jidai-geki. Ran in particular stands out for it's authenticity, despite having an entirely fictional plot. Even Kagemusha manages to weave a convincing story perfectly with historical events.
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Unread postby Mistelten » Tue Jan 18, 2005 4:54 pm

Ran is a GREAT movie, and so was Spider's Web Castle/Throne of Blood. Who would have thought Samurai Shakespeare fiction would have been made for the best versions of those stories available? Actually, I hear that Macbeth is a 'bad luck role' that no actor in Hollywood wants...... because it'll kill their career. Toshiro Mifune, what a great actor(my favorite). Turned a 'bad luck role' into his (probably)most famous role, and had an outstanding career from then on!

I prefer Kurosawa's fictional drama. Kagemusha could have been an hour shorter, and I know it was done for effect, but the premise and final battle are off. The battle of Nagashino went on for hours after the initial charge(unlike in the movie, where they basically hit a 'wall of bullets' and lose). The new tactics were a major part of it, but it was still a drawn out, hand-to-hand battle after all of that.

EDIT:) A truly HEROIC actor.
Last edited by Mistelten on Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby SYL » Tue Jan 18, 2005 7:24 pm

If we're being honest, the point of the film wasn't to accurately portray the battle of Nagashino. ;) In history, the Oda-Tokugawa forces so vastly outnumbered the Takeda, on favourable ground, that even if they hadn't had the muskets they would still have crushed the Takeda. Muskets made up only a fraction of the Oda-Tokugawa line. They shortened the battle, but they didn't win it.

I like Kagemusha as it is. It's powerful.

Ran is better, certainly, from the pacing, characterisation and everything else. Toshiro Mifune was more famous, but Tatsuya Nakadai is up there in terms of sheer quality.

Man, I could go on for hours about Kurosawa's films. Throne of Blood is just plain chilling. The "curse of Macbeth" is a very old phenomenon - stemming from the very first times the play was performed. In acting circles, it's bad luck to say "Macbeth". Instead, it's generally referred to as "the Scottish play". :wink:
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Unread postby Ranbir » Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:31 pm

Can you see historical events/concepts be used in movies? Particular scenes maybe?

Curious because when we saw Helm's Deep battle the second time, we found it hard to believe that the Battle of Chamkaur didn't pass their minds. Two men, preventing an unbelievable amount of soldiers from entering the gate. For a whole day too.
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