Saturday, March 22, 2008

10 Most Historically Inaccurate Movies?

Yahoo! has an article up titled 10 Most Historically Inaccurate Movies. The subtitle notes, "Films that make your high school history teacher cry." Here are the ten that made the list:

1. 10,000 B.C.

2. Gladiator

3. 300

4. The Last Samurai

5. Apocalypto

6. Memoirs of a Geisha

7. Braveheart

8. Elizabeth: The Golden Age

9. The Patriot

10. 2001: A Space Odyssey

I do not think that 10,000 B.C. belongs on this list. It is not an attempt at history. It is straight out fiction set in a fictional remote past. 2001 is science fiction and doesn't belong either. Yes, the predictions made didn't happen but it is not a history movie. We known the Star Trek is science fiction too and not a history. Obviously, there were no Eugenic Wars and a leader known as Khan either in the 1990s. If the Star Trek movie franchise is not confused as history, why put 2001 on the list?

Films associated with Mel Gibson make the list three times. However, one of them (Braveheart) won best picture at the Oscars. They may have historical inaccuracies but these Gibson films have stimulated interest in history and given those cringing high school history teachers a tool to motivate discussions on historical topics.

I get annoyed by bad history presentations by Hollywood too. However, I do think it is OK for writers and directors to take some liberties with history to tell a good story. How much liberty they take is a matter which can be be fairly debated but I think most people are alright with some deviance from reality.

Any other films which should be on this list? Are there some which should be removed?


leoeris said...

Other films which should appear on this list are those which are considered historically 'most accurate'. History is rhetoric. Film is rhetoric. Historical film is rhetoric. Nothing more, nothing less.

Any intellectual pursuit that rejects possibility and creative speculation in the name of science is just a platform for political and ideological posturing.

10,000 B.C. is a prime example. I have not seen it, but the vehemence with which the possibility of civilization in that era is denied is proof enough.

History, as it exists in schools, and in the public mind is a prime example of the logical fallacy of Denying the Antecedent. If A then B, not A then not B. Contextually, If there is evidence of a thing, then it happened; there is no evidence then it did not happen. Logic does not support this view. History, which is really only historiography, is little more than a circle jerk with competing theories on narrowly defined 'primary sources'.

Historical movies are often magnificent in presenting a taste and feel of an era. But the fact that they make anyone cringe suggests that 'history' has a handle on 'reality'. This can not be supported by reason.

Consider for a moment, reader, if your curiosity about the past of the world can not be satisfied by history at all.

M-Dawg said...

Pearl Harbor perhaps?

Anonymous said...

An Inconvenient Truth? A century from now, people are going to laugh their rear ends off as the predictions of liberal activists who have hijacked the scientific community prove false. This is a historically inaccurate movie as the statistics for previous years are already wrong.

But if I am wrong, I look forward to palm trees here in Ontario. Bring em on.

Anonymous said...

This list, like most on the Internet, is completely bunk. Here's their beef with "The Patriot":

"Revolutionary War figure Francis 'The Swamp Fox' Marion was the basis for Mel Gibson's character, but he wasn't the forward-thinking family man they show in the flick. He was a slave owner who didn't get married (to his cousin) until after the war was over. Historians also say that he actively persecuted and murdered native Cherokees. Plus, the thrilling Battle of Guilford Court House where he vanquishes his British nemesis? In reality, the Americans lost that one."

Gibson's character wasn't based solely on Marion, the character was more a mixture of figures ranging from Marion to Thomas Sumter. If you didn't know the pair before the movie, you'd have no idea who they were after. If the film stimulates interest in learning more about the Southern Campaign of the Revolution, what's wrong with that?

I think the climactic battle scene was based more on the Battle of Cowpens than Guilford Court House. But, despite Guilford being a defeat for the Americans, the British really didn't win anything more than high casualties and this eventually led Cornwallis to turn to Yorktown. However, the battle depicted looks much more like Cowpens than Guilford.

The film also made good use of incorporating a French character, certainly almost every American seems to have forgotten what an incredible debt of gratitude we owed the French after the Revolution.

Finally, the Souhtern Campaign gets very little attention, especially in pop culture and American history surveys, so if this movie has to bend the truth to create a positive depiction of the role played by Southern militias in the overall success of the Revolution, that's fine with me and I think it does way more good than harm.

LiberalHater said...

There's numerous world war II films that should be on that list.

2001 being #1 really discredits the list entirely, I mean it was made in 64 and had the Space Race not lost public interest humanity would have reached Mars by 2001.

When it's the year 2026 is 1927's Metropolis possibly one of the greatest films ever made considering the time and it's impact on film, be ridiculed for being historically innacurate because we won't have a city with a stoic giant tower and bullet trains running 300 meters above the ground?

Jon said...

I think that these movies are horrible for history classes because when students watch them they don't understand that they are so wrong and believe that is what happened. It hurts our country's knowledge. Some of these movies are very good however and help get students more interested in history but film makers could make the movies more accurate and it would help a lot.