Jump to content
The Education Forum
  • Announcements

    • Evan Burton

      OPEN REGISTRATION BY EMAIL ONLY !!! PLEASE CLICK ON THIS TITLE FOR INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR REGISTRATION!:   06/03/2017

      We have 5 requirements for registration: 1.Sign up with your real name. (This will be your Username) 2.A valid email address 3.Your agreement to the Terms of Use, seen here: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=21403. 4. Your photo for use as an avatar  5.. A brief biography. We will post these for you, and send you your password. We cannot approve membership until we receive these. If you are interested, please send an email to: edforumbusiness@outlook.com We look forward to having you as a part of the Forum! Sincerely, The Education Forum Team
John Simkin

History and Hollywood

Recommended Posts

The Guardian runs a Notes & Queries Column. Recently, someone asked the question: “Why do the directors in Hollywood find it virtually impossible to make a reasonable accurate historical film?” Anyone got any ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Guardian runs a Notes & Queries Column. Recently, someone asked the question: “Why do the directors in Hollywood find it virtually impossible to make a reasonable accurate historical film?” Anyone got any ideas?

Accurate in what way - overall content, accuracy in same, asthetics? For all practical purposes Hollyweird makes films that they feel will SELL tickets -- you want documentaries, take your best shot at art houses or local universities...

The 64,000 dollar question is: who say's those documentary film projects are accurate? Accurate compared to WHAT, the New York Times?

And "reasonable", hmmm.... well. look how reasonable people disagree on the Zapruder Film [the alteration/non-alteration debate] How many historical versions of history do we have, regarding the events of Nov 22nd 1963? That is *near* recent history, with photgraphic "evidence" to boot and we 'still', can't be sure it's accurate -- The problem grows expodentially as we go back in time.

Even " historical mavens, can't agree. Textbooks have various renditions of histororical events and folks expect Hopllyweird to clean up the mess? -- LOL what the hell are the crystal ball gazers wandering academia for? Is it ALL just opinion?

Like the JFK mess, the only thing we're sure of: he was shot in the back, the head by coward, left to die in the arms of his wife and the course of a country changed... That, friends and neighbors is what Hollyweird is/was made for -- enter stage left, Oliver Stone...

The US Government can't, or worse yet, WON'T figure it out, "we'll just leave it up to the story tellers..." The "historians", self proclaimed and otherwise - we're asleep at the wheel on this one, or feeding at the trough at public expense, and dare I say; PERIL!

David Healy

Edited by David G. Healy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There has yet to be a film dealing properly with the life of Adolf Hitler, he is a difficult person to capture both in a script and on film. Many have tried to cast somebody as him or tried to work a character that revolved around him.

This is the one area of major history that needs a good film, none to date have properly captured hitler.

There have only been one off films about world war two, usually about specific battles or personal plights (Saving Private Ryan, Bridge on the River Kwai, A Bridge Too Far), perhaps a trilogy would properly capture the war as has only been done before by the great documentary series 'the world at war' narrated by laurence olivier.

The trick to a trilogy of this kind would be to keep the list of characters at a minimum and distinguishable so it would most likely have to follow the heads of state, prominant generals and possibly cover the growth and influence of the military industrial complex.

john

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course the main (non-economic) purpose of movies is to entertain. That CAN be coincident with learning - in fact one could get a more "realistic" picture from a fictional movie than pure facts.

I'm constantly asked by students if there's a "realistic" movie on the Vietnam War. Of course there isn't - a truly realistic movie would be deadly dull most of the time and terrifyingly confused the remainder. Many regard "Apocalypse Now" as a great movie - not realistic but still imparting some essential essence of the War. I used to be a fan of this movie, but it does not wear well with time (unlike " The Bridge on the River Kwai "). Don't even get me started on "Apocalypse Now Redux". The other popular 'Nam movies are pretty much junk: "Platoon", "The Deer Hunter". A possible exception is "Full Metal Jacket", which definitely has its moments. A vastly under-rated film is "Gardens of Stone". And I found "Green Dragon" to be a worthy entry for a side of the war that just isn't represented elsewhere.

I wonder what you think of "Gandhi"? I don't know a lot about his personal life, and I've only read excerpts of his writing, but I found the movie very powerful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder what you think of "Gandhi"?  I don't know a lot about his personal life, and I've only read excerpts of his writing, but I found the movie very powerful.

Yes, Gandhi is quite near to the real picture as far as I understand. I had seen it and most of time it is repeated in October every year on different Television Channels. But the depiction of other personalities are not as desired.

If you are interested then there was quite a successful attempt on TV and I remember and can recommend two serials if you manage to get hold of them.

One is the serialized depiction of "Discovery of India" based on the book by the same title by Jawahar Lal Nehru.

The Second one is "Chanakya", really a great work. However, a pure Bollywood movie (Movie Industry of Bombay) "Asoka" is not a good work. It is starring the leading actor of persent time Sharukh Khan.

The year 2003 was a year of historic movies. There were five movies on Bhagat Singh. One of them starting Boby Deol was quite good and can be called good historic movie. Then there was "Line of Control" depicting the Kargil War. You may say that it was Indian version of the event.

Then there was another movie which even went to get Oscar nomination and depicted the social and economic problems during British Raj period. It was Lagan produced and acted by Amir Khan.

Well, only if you are interested to see they are some of the stuff from Bollywood. They depict the social background, the culture, costumes, dialect, aspirations as near to the real characters as compared to Hollywood on India. They are really coming in large numbers if one can judge from the news reports.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of my pupils is doing an A-Level Personal study on this topic, focussing on comparisons between particular films on the same topic-e.g 'Longest Day' and 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Tora, Tora, Tora' and 'Pearl Harbor'. I would contend that there was a genre of war films in the 1960's and early 1970's such as 'Longest Day' and 'Battle of Britain' which did tell the 'big story' in a broadly accurate way. Although you can always pick holes in individual details, 'Longest Day' for example does actually give the audience some understanding of why D-Day happened, what it was all about and the basic sequence of events. It was also the highest grossing black and white film of all time! That genre pretty much died out after 'A Bridge Too Far' in 1976. Sadly modern film-makers don't seem to believe that audiences have sufficient attention-span or intelligence to make films like that any more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One of my pupils is doing an A-Level Personal study on this topic, focussing on comparisons between particular films on the same topic-e.g 'Longest Day' and 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Tora, Tora, Tora' and 'Pearl Harbor'. I would contend that there was a genre of war films in the 1960's and early 1970's such as 'Longest Day' and 'Battle of Britain' which did tell the 'big story' in a broadly accurate way. Although you can always pick holes in individual details, 'Longest Day' for example does actually give the audience some understanding of why D-Day happened, what it was all about and the basic sequence of events. It was also the highest grossing black and white film of all time! That genre pretty much died out after 'A Bridge Too Far' in 1976. Sadly modern film-makers don't seem to believe that audiences have sufficient attention-span or intelligence to make films like that any more.

Interesting post. It is true that modern filmmakers are under the impression that audiences do not “have sufficient attention-span or intelligence to make films” like a “Bridge So Far”. It is possible that the attention-span of many young people brought up on short snappy scenes with little dialogue and plenty of action will not cope with films made in the 1970s. However, I believe it is possible for skilled professionals to communicate complex stories to a mass audience. After all, that is what the writers of school history textbooks try to do.

This is only possible if a great deal of care is taken with the script and direction. Take for example the film All the President’s Men. This is highly complex story but the excellent script (William Goldman) and direction (Alan J. Pakula) made it possible to communicate it to a mass audience.

One of the problems with modern filmmakers is that they no longer interested in telling complex stories to its audience. I suspect the main reason for this is that they lack the intelligence to do this. Therefore they concentrate on what they can do and rely on the film promoters to persuade enough customers that this is what they want. I recently heard a leading Hollywood director being interviewed about his latest movie. The interviewer pointed out that in several places the script was illogical. The director replied that his audience was not interested in logic. They wanted excitement and that is what he gave them.

Most directors take little care over the script. In fact, in many cases it is written by themselves (or a friend or relative is brought in to do the job). In its heyday Hollywood employed the finest writers available. Now they are more concerned in getting the best in areas like special effects.

Occasionally television gives us intelligent drama. For example, State of Play. Once again it was dependent on a great script (Paul Abbott) and direction (David Yates). I am also a fan of Peter Kosminsky and I am looking forward to the showing of The Government Inspector on Channel 4 (17th March).

It is not all gloom. The best young Hollywood director by a long way is Alexander Payne. For example, Election (1999), About Schmidt (2002) and Sideways (2004) are great movies. These films all deal with complex issues, however, given the skill of the director, the audience is not always aware of this.

Can the world cope with the films of Alexander Payne? Yes. Will he be corrupted by the demands of Hollywood? Probably. But we can live in hope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is unfortunate that the most recent attempt to make a reasonably accurate 'big historical story' film was a commercial and critical flop: 'Alexander'. This had Oxford Classical Historian Robin Lane Fox as adviser (and participant in one of the battle scenes!)

All is not doom and gloom, however. Excellent and accurate historical films are appearing from the collaboration between HBO and BBC. 'Conspiracy' and 'Band of Brothers' were both closely based on historical source material and tell complex stories. Roman Polanski's superb recent film 'The Pianist' is extremely faithful to the autobiographical account on which it is based, and paints a vivid picture of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Edited by Mark Hone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×