Least historically accurate "historical" movie

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nelsonmuntz

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I would vote for Elizabeth. I am a history junky, and Queen Elizabeth I is one of the most important monarchs in the history of western civilization. Which is why this movie pisses me off so much. As a political thriller, i would give Elizabeth a B or B+. For historical accuracy, I would give it a big, fat F. Other than the fact that there actually was an Elizabeth and Walsingham and they were friends and roughly similar to the portrayal in the movie, most of the rest of the movie is BS.

The Act of Uniformity is one of the most important acts in the history of the English speaking world, and while Elizabeth was crucial in getting it passed, Walsingham's abduction of the Bishops was bs.

Elizabeth did not marry the Prince of Anjou because he was 20 years younger than her, and Walsingham and her didn't see any political benefit to marrying once she was past childbearing age. It had nothing to do with him being a pervert. Walsingham did not kill the Scottish Queen, and Lord Burghley (played by Richard Attenborough in the movie) remained her most trusted advisor until his death, at which time his son took that role. Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes) remained one of her top generals until his death. The Duke of Norfolk was executed for treason, but pretty much everything else about the character in the movie was made up.


People complain about Braveheart, but that is a documentary compared to Elizabeth.
 
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Of recent movies, Secretariat bothers me the most. They tried to make an underdog story out of it despite the fact that Secretariat was horse of the year as a 2-year old and the owner had won the Kentucky Derby the year before. Worse, because they needed an enemy they turned the trainer of Sham imto a vulgar, misogynist monster. The poor guy was still alive and died a short time later. I hate that movie.
 

Fishy

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Secretariat was bad - they made it into an underdog tale when it was really rich people racing their multi-million dollar pet against other rich peoples' lesser pets.

Cinderella Man misrepresented Max Baer pretty badly.

"Lincoln" never once showed Abe hunting vampires.

But all in all, I agree with Nelson, (Jesus, that was hard to write), "Elizabeth" was absolute fiction in so many ways.
 
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It was so off that I'm not sure it could be deemed "historical", but I'm calling out Braveheart.
 

nelsonmuntz

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It was so off that I'm not sure it could be deemed "historical", but I'm calling out Braveheart.
Braveheart has some issues. Obviously, William Wallace never knocked up Queen Isabella since she was about 3 or 4 years old at the time of the film. William Wallace and Robert the Bruce were not exactly great friends either. Wallace backed the Scottish rival to Bruce. Wallace was also not a commoner.

Longshanks was gangster, as was Queen Isabella. Edward II was really gay, although the Queen was the one that killed his lover, not Longshanks, and she eventually had Edward II killed too. Robert the Bruce was the actual Braveheart, not Wallace.

The Battle of Stirling Bridge was fought on an actual bridge, not in an open field. The Scottish victory was more the result of staggering English stupidity than Wallace's bravery or military genius.

In Braveheart's defense, unbiased, contemporaneous written histories from the period are few and far between. This in contrast to Elizabeth, which has multiple contemporaneous written histories all portraying a different version of events than represented in that film.

I would give Braveheart about a C or C- in terms of historical accuracy.
 

nelsonmuntz

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A movie that is surprisingly accurate is Tombstone. It is a fairly accurate portrayal of what was essentially a gang war between the Earps and the Cowboys.

I even tend to agree with the movie in places where it is in conflict with the "official" history. I don't think there is any way Ringo killed himself, as is the official record. Ringo was winning the war at the time, and his death turned the tide irrevocably in favor of Earp and Holliday. Holliday was facing trial at the time, and the body count between the two of them was starting to mount. An assassination of Ringo was going to be treated as a murder, even by frontier justice standards, so I think Earp and Holliday set up the murder to look like a suicide.
 
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Good topic. It would be a long list. But the list would have to include...

Gladiator, Braveheart, JFK, Amadeus, The Patriot, and Secretariat among others. And I think the Max Baer family actually sued over his portrayal.

That said....I liked each of those movies and basically every movie listed in this thread....
 

nelsonmuntz

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Good topic. It would be a long list. But the list would have to include...

Gladiator, Braveheart, JFK, Amadeus, The Patriot, and Secretariat among others. And I think the Max Baer family actually sued over his portrayal.

That said....I liked each of those movies and basically every movie listed in this thread....
Gladiator was way off. Commodus was actually not that bad an Emperor.

The Last Samurai was absurd too, starting with the fact that the Samurai were pretty awful and perpetuated a brutal feudal system that the vast majority of Japanese hated. Furthermore, the fat bad guy in the movie was an amalgamation of two real life Japanese nobles who were the primary reasons Japan modernized so quickly and was able to hold off Western domination. Both of them, Omura and Okubo, are considered heroes in Japan.
 

nelsonmuntz

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The first time I saw Valkyrie, I thought that the movie must be BS because there is no way all these senior generals could possibly think this stupid plan would actually work. Turns out they did. Valkyrie only has a couple of alterations from actual events.
 

temery

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I just watched "Lincoln" and wonder how accurate the storyline is.


I would vote for Elizabeth. I am a history junky, and Queen Elizabeth I is one of the most important monarchs in the history of western civilization. Which is why this movie pisses me off so much. As a political thriller, i would give Elizabeth a B or B+. For historical accuracy, I would give it a big, fat F. Other than the fact that there actually was an Elizabeth and Walsingham and they were friends and roughly similar to the portrayal in the movie, most of the rest of the movie is BS.

The Act of Uniformity is one of the most important acts in the history of the English speaking world, and while Elizabeth was crucial in getting it passed, Walsingham's abduction of the Bishops was bs.

Elizabeth did not marry the Prince of Anjou because he was 20 years younger than her, and Walsingham and her didn't see any political benefit to marrying once she was past childbearing age. It had nothing to do with him being a pervert. Walsingham did not kill the Scottish Queen, and Lord Burghley (played by Richard Attenborough in the movie) remained her most trusted advisor until his death, at which time his son took that role. Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes) remained one of her top generals until his death. The Duke of Norfolk was executed for treason, but pretty much everything else about the character in the movie was made up.


People complain about Braveheart, but that is a documentary compared to Elizabeth.
 

RS9999X

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I just watched "Lincoln" and wonder how accurate the storyline is.
Its not. Many threads on it.Wikis. Etc. In CT it got lots of press as the movie had CT voting for slavery and so forth
 

RS9999X

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Oliver Stone I give a pass to as he does impressionistic generation movies. JFK captures the ongoing obsession of the Boomers with the JFK assassination industry. Anyone who lived during the times knows what I mean. Like 'The Doors' it's more about capturing a mood and a feeling that represents the Boomer experience and cultural fabric in this case the 'party like a rock star' idol myth. On some movies he takes considerable license like Friday Night Lights or Natural Born Killers to create composite characters. Platoon captures what it needs to without being confused with Viet history or My Lai or a specific event.
 

RS9999X

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the list would have to include..
Amadeus....I liked each of those movies and basically every movie listed in this thread....

It's the difference between art and history. Without artistic license to impove on the Salieris concertos we would be left with ... mediocrity. Everywhere.

 

nelsonmuntz

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I just watched "Lincoln" and wonder how accurate the storyline is.
I haven't seen it. There have been some quibbles, such as the vote of the Connecticut legislators on the 17th Amendment, which feels minor in the scheme of things for me. It's not like Elizabeth or Braveheart or the Last Samurai where the plot hinges on things that simply did not happen or are being grossly inaccurately portrayed.
 
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Secretariat was bad - they made it into an underdog tale when it was really rich people racing their multi-million dollar pet against other rich peoples' lesser pets.

Cinderella Man misrepresented Max Baer pretty badly.

"Lincoln" never once showed Abe hunting vampires.

But all in all, I agree with Nelson, (Jesus, that was hard to write), "Elizabeth" was absolute fiction in so many ways.
Agree on Cinderella man, but damn that was a good movie.

I love my history, but historically accurate movies usually make for boring ones. Take "the great raid" for example.... Three hours of movie 5 minutes of excitement.
 

HuskyHawk

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I haven't seen it. There have been some quibbles, such as the vote of the Connecticut legislators on the 17th Amendment, which feels minor in the scheme of things for me. It's not like Elizabeth or Braveheart or the Last Samurai where the plot hinges on things that simply did not happen or are being grossly inaccurately portrayed.
I think this is about right. The tone and core details of the movie are pretty solid. Minor details as well, such as Lincoln's watch, are nicely done. Spielberg got permission to record Lincoln's actual pocket watch at the Smithsonian.

Gladiator is pretty far off. Elizabeth and Braveheart too. The Patriot is perhaps a little closer to reality. Others I wonder about, like Last of the Mohicans, which feels pretty accurate, but I just don't know.
 

Husky25

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Oliver Stone I give a pass to as he does impressionistic generation movies. JFK captures the ongoing obsession of the Boomers with the JFK assassination industry. Anyone who lived during the times knows what I mean. Like 'The Doors' it's more about capturing a mood and a feeling that represents the Boomer experience and cultural fabric in this case the 'party like a rock star' idol myth. On some movies he takes considerable license like Friday Night Lights or Natural Born Killers to create composite characters. Platoon captures what it needs to without being confused with Viet history or My Lai or a specific event.
Stone had exactly zero to do with Friday Night Lights. It is a Peter Berg film (Cop Land, Aspen Extreme) based on Buzz Bissinger's Book (his brother in law, I believe). Stone's football movie was Any Given Sunday. Friday Night Lights had its creative diversions from fact as well, but not enough that Bissinger didn't allow for its production.
Among other things, Wentchel was not the shy high schooler as portrayed. Permian played DC in the semi's not the title game, and Coach Gaines and Boobie Miles did not really get along. According to an article on ESPN a few months ago, Coach Gaines wrote off Miles after his injury because he was of no use to him.

As you say however, movies like this are not meant to be true historial documentarial accounts, but to convey a general feeling. NBK is a complete work of fiction however some characters are very loosely based on actual people (as most movies are).

JFK is another animal all together. Many people actually think it is dramatic documentary and is historically accurate..probably because they used 35mm photos and 8mm video in production. Plenty of creative license was taken...
 

nelsonmuntz

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The Patriot was not terrible as far as historical accuracy goes. Marion was definitely no saint in the movie, although Gibson softened him a little. Martin was an amalgamation of other heroes too. Tarleton is a fairly accurate portrayal of that person. Dramatic license was taken in killing him off at the end, but he was a brutal guy in real life, at least according to our side.

If nothing else, the response to this movie showed that where the historical record is foggy, each side gets to decide on its own facts.
 

RS9999X

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Stone's football movie was Any Given Sunday.

As you say however, movies like this are not meant to be true historial documentarial accounts, but to convey a general feeling. NBK is a complete work of fiction however some characters are very loosely based on actual people (as most movies are).

JFK is another animal all together. Many people actually think it is dramatic documentary and is historically accurate..probably because they used 35mm photos and 8mm video in production. Plenty of creative license was taken...
Which is why I like Stone. He's obsessed with 60s culture and the Boomers and Any Given Sunday tries to capture the rise (and fall) of the NFL in a generational way with the Pacino Diaz tension.

JFK misleads people: its about a generational obessession (including the minutia of the assassination) not historical fact. Natural Born Killers was too sharply drawn a portrait but its even more apt today than in the wake of Morton Downey. Where would US television be without fame whores?
 

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