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?

Friday, March 21, 2008

American History - 1950-1959

The Kingwood Library of Lone Stare College in Texas has a fun resource up. It is titled American History - 1950-1959. It provides an overview of 1950s U.S. history, with a timeline of key events, suggested reading, and links to resources on technology, art, literature, fashion, music, television, sports, and other topics of American cultural history.

From the site:

The purpose of this web and library guide is to help the user gain a broad understanding and appreciation for the culture and history of the fabulous fifties (1950s). In a very small way, this is a bibliographic essay. While there is no way we can link to everything, we have attempted to find areas of special interest and to select information that we hold dear today - movies we watch, songs we sing, events that move us, people we admire. To see the whole picture, we encourage users to browse all the way through this page and then visit the suggested links for more information on the decade. We feel the best way to immerse oneself in a topic is to use both Internet and the library. The real depth of information is best read in books. More photographs, more information, more depth. Then, there is information that will be found only on the Internet; a journal from someone, photographs like those on our pages.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008

The world lost a great writer today as Arthur C. Clarke has died at the age of 90. He is best known for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey and the film based on it. He is one of my favorite writers and I hope no one minds that I pay my respects on this history blog.

Clarke was born in England in 1917. He could not afford to go to college after finishing his secondary education although he did so later. He served in the Royal Air Force during World War Two as a radar specialist. Radar played an important role during the Battle of Britain.

He went on after the war to become one of the Great Three of Science Fiction writers with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. He published numerous short stories and novels. He has also been credited as being one of the originators of the idea of communication satellites and the idea of the space elevator.

Although he may always be known for 2001, my favorite Clarke novel is the Songs of Distant Earth. Published in 1986, it tells the tale of the survivors of an apocalyptic Earth arriving at the human colony world of Thalassa. The novel really fired my imagination as a teenager and I still read it on a regular basis. Even if the Sun goes nova, the human race can survive. We just have to figure out a way to get out of this solar system. Our civilization has advanced in ways unimaginable just a few millenia ago. What can we do in a few more? I think the odds are in our favor.

Rest in peace Mr. Clarke. And thank you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

10,000 BC

I was fortunate enough to catch a showing of 10,000 BC at the theater the other day. I enjoyed it very much. I thought the plot was slow at points but it was good overall.

The film site notes of the film, "A prehistoric young mammoth hunter embarks on a journey through uncharted territory to secure the future of his dying tribe."

While this is a good movie, it is not even an attempt at accurate pre-history. Nor was it meant to as the producer noted that this film is not a documentary. It was meant to be a good action-adventure set in the distant past.

I also caught the brief reference to an Atlantian influence on ancient Egypt. It becomes apparent that the scene of the final battle is the Nile River Valley. The tribes who help the hero are obviously African. The hero and his Mammoth hunting tribe probably come from the vicinity of Lebanon?

The villains of the movie are building pyramids. They are rumored to be survivors of an island which sank beneath the waves. I presume this is Atlantis. There is also a brief glance at a map of North Africa which is from an advanced civilization.

This movie is fun and worth seeing. However, keep your historical skepticism in check. There is no way to give an accurate description of 10,000 BC as there are no good accounts of the period. I appreciate the attempt though at the time period as good fiction.