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Inaccuracies in Movies

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Melyanna, Jun 24, 2002.

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  1. Melyanna

    Melyanna Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 19, 2001
    Last night I was sitting in a theatre watching The Bourne Identity, all of which takes place in Europe. In the parts in Switzerland, I was thrilled to realize that I didn't need to read the subtitles for the German conversations going on - I thought my German was considerably rustier than that. However, about five minutes later I remembered that I have never been very good with the Swiss dialect of German, and I understood every word that was spoken because they were using the dialect of northern Germany, which is the more mainstream dialect of the language. It was completely wrong for the part of Europe where they were.

    I noticed other problems in the movie, like an abundance of American cars in Europe when I know from my travels there that the cars are much smaller, and technical things in the fight scenes, but it didn't really bother me enough to not enjoy the movie. So I wondered what other people felt about this - do the inaccuracies affect the viewing of a movie enough that you don't enjoy it, or do you just brush it off? Why do you think movies have these problems?

  2. solojones

    solojones Chosen One star 9

    Sep 27, 2000
    Sometimes things like that bother me, but I try not to pay attention to them. At least not when I watch a movie the first time. I like the escapism thing.

    Then, I pick movies apart, editing, directing, acting, music, lighting, costuming, dialogue, etc. ;)

    -sj loves kevin spacey
  3. Mastadge

    Mastadge Manager Emeritus star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jun 4, 1999
    There are two main kinds of inaccuracies in movies. The first is fine; the second is not:

    1) Inaccuracies made intentionally. For example, in space movies they'll often make the NASA facilities look a lot more sleek and sexier than they really are, because if they showed things they way they are people would be quite unimpressed. Also, when they use the wrong military hardware, they often know it's wrong, but it looks cooler so they figure that it's worth it.

    2) Inaccuracies made due to laziness or ignorance. For example, when you've got a movie taking place on the west coast that shows the sun rising over the ocean, or, as you've pointed out, have a bunch of american cars in a picture taking place elsewhere, and other similar problems.
  4. FiveHorizons

    FiveHorizons Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 19, 2002
    Same with "A Beautiful Mind." The story was loosely, very loosely based on the life of Nash. Most of it was made up for dramatic effect. I'd say it's more fictional than fact-based.
  5. DarthSnuggles1121

    DarthSnuggles1121 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Apr 28, 2002
    Inaccuracies in movies don't really bug me that much. Take Braveheart for example. I loved this movie, I own it, and I watch it a lot. But some of the things they added were definately not part of the true story of William Wallace. The main inaccuracy that stands out to me was when they said that Wallace had gotten the French princess pregnant. In reality, the princess wasn't even a teenager (I don't recall her exact age, but she was younger than ten I believe). Also, when they depicted the Battle of Stirling Bridge, guess what was missing? That's right - a bridge.

    But depsite those mistakes and any others the film might have contained, it was still a very enjoyable movie, to me anyway.

    Now don't even get me started on what Disney did to Pocahontas. ;)
  6. Darth_Tim

    Darth_Tim Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 26, 2002
    Here's some great ones in Pearl Harbor: (there are more but these come to mind)

    Zero fighters did not have dark green paint scheme as shown in film until around 1943. At the time of Pearl Harbor, they were white with black cowlings.

    Despite all the cool CGI, several of the destroyers and such were clearly modern Navy ships. As were the carriers of the Japanese Task force shown on film. Japanese carriers at the time were much bulkier than the American ones and had much smaller bridge towers.

    The capsizing of the Oklahoma looks odd as it seems the axis of the ship's rotation in several scenes is ABOVE the waterline, which would, of course, be impossible.

    The "P-40's can't outrun Zero's" comment by Rafe makes no sense, as although Chennault's Flying Tigers flew P-40's in China before the US entry into the war, they did not fight Zeros, mostly Japanese Army aircraft.

    The P-40's depicted in the film were -N versions, while those on hand during the Pearl Harbor battle were mostly P-40B's with much smaller nose radiators.

    Furthermore, the two pilots who historically did get into the air and shoot down 7 Japanese planes (Welch and Taylor) destroyed dive bombers, not fighters. Low altitude dogfighting with P-40's against Zeros would have been suicide.

    Doolittle raid:

    Obviously, the Doolittle crews were NOT made up of fighter pilots somehow reassigned to bombers.

    The bombers attacked several cities, not just Tokyo, and due to fuel consumption considerations, did NOT fly in formation on the would have burned up too much gas for the planes which took off first to circle the carrier force until the rest joined up into formation, and staying in tight formation would have also burned up a large amount of fuel. They made their bombing runs individually.

    Flak over the targets was innaccurate, unlike depicted in the film.

    When the planes took off, the seas were heavy, the pilots attempting to time their takeoffs with the bow of the Hornet's upward swells. (in the film the water is quite calm)

    No bomber crews had to slug it out with Japanese troops upon landing, though two crews were captured and 3 men executed after a sham trial in 1944. One crew landed in Russia and was interned for the remainder of the war.

    If you want a good book on the Doolittle raid, read "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" by Capt. Ted Lawson, who was one of the fliers involved.

    I suppose it did bother me...that Hollywood can't seem to do things accurately when it doesn't seem horribly difficult to make them realistic. And could they have left the idiotic, contrived love story out of the film?

  7. solojones

    solojones Chosen One star 9

    Sep 27, 2000
    movies based on true events almost ALWAYS make up the whole thing. I've just come to accept that.

    -sj loves kevin spacey
  8. AmadeusExMachina

    AmadeusExMachina Jedi Youngling star 3

    May 19, 2002
    The best explanation I've ever heard on this subject was given by Roger Ebert, in his rave review of Oliver Stone's JFK, updated for his book of great movies.

    After he and several other critics highly praised JFK, and rightly so, Walter Cronkite ran into Ebert at some event or another, and absolutely assaulted him verbally for having given such a great review to JFK, complaining that "that movie contained not one single accurate fact, it was tripe."

    Ebert explained in his review that while it probably got all sorts of facts wrong, THAT wasn't what the movie was about. He said it was so powerful and so GOOD simply because it got the emotions of the situation right. He went on to explain that news reporting is the place for facts, and movies are the place for emotions.

    And I think he was completely right.
  9. DarthNut

    DarthNut Jedi Knight star 6

    Aug 1, 1999
    Inaccuraries do bother me, but it really is best try and ignore them and watch the movie.

    :) DarthNut,
    the nuttiest guy around.
  10. Obi Anne

    Obi Anne FF manager Celebrations star 8 Manager

    Nov 4, 1998
    Well I quite often get annoyed by inaccuracies, but it takes the second time to really disturb me, for that reason I can't stand Pearl Harbour any more, not to mention the end of A beautiful mind! The winners of the Nobel Prize never holds a speech when they receive the award, they do that at the dinner afterwards, and the ones that were supposed to play the Swedish Royal family wasn't even closely look alikes.
  11. Mr44

    Mr44 VIP star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    May 21, 2002
    I agree with Mastadge here,
    I think it is important to distinguish between inaccuracies made for the sake of the story, and those made from sheer laziness or ignorance.

    I think that hopefully, Mel Gibson researched the story of Wallace while making the movie Braveheart. He left the bridge out of the battle scene for the sake of cinematography. It would be distracting on film. I can forgive this type of blunder. (Less so inflating the age of a 10 year old princess, but it did make for a powerful scene!)

    What really gets me is the so called lazy mistakes. Pearl Harbor was HYPED as being historically acccurate, but they couldn't even get the frickin' paint scheme on a Zero right. This had absolutely no impact on the story, but indicated that they simply didn't do their homework.

  12. lavjoricso

    lavjoricso Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 25, 2001
    Amost every film made in Hollywood about 'history' is inaccurate.

    It doesn't bother me that much,only when people believe it !!!
  13. Jades Fire

    Jades Fire Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 8, 1998
    I don't like movies that purport to be historical but play fast and loose with the facts. If the filmmakers think that the story is so compelling that they can make a good movie about it, then include the facts and don't make stuff up. Too many idiots will think the movie is totally factual and get their history lessons from the movies.

    A couple of examples that I don't like:
    Braveheart: that William Wallace and the future-Queen-to-be met (with the implication they got it on); truth was she came to England after he was dead.
    Gladiator: they really messed up the Roman Emperor's at the time. I don't remember the particulars at the moment, mainly because I wasn't impressed with the movies, but I looked the info up to see how fast-and-loose they played with the "facts."
  14. lavjoricso

    lavjoricso Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 25, 2001
    Yeah,they are two good examples of how Hollywood re-writes history.

    In Braveheart,Wallace has a love affair with the Princess.In real life she was 3 years old when William Wallace dead.

    In Gladiator,the emperor was killed by a former soldier of Rome.In real life the Emperor was killed in the arena,but by a slave who had always lived a slaves life.

    Ather films have had bad Hollywood History treatment.

    The Great escape - in real life there was no Americans there.

    U517 - in real life that was British men not Americans.

    Titanic - Murdock didn't shot himself in real life.

    The Patriot - the English character that was killed by Mel Gibsons character,in real life wasn't killed at all.He came home to England and retired in Liverpool.

    I can understand American studios wanting to show the USA in a good light,but why not make something up instead of making a mess out of History and making young children believe in the film they are seeing ?
  15. AmadeusExMachina

    AmadeusExMachina Jedi Youngling star 3

    May 19, 2002
    You guys may want to play fair, and critique high school history books for not being dramatic enough.
  16. Son of the Suns

    Son of the Suns Administrator Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    May 6, 1999
    I don't go to the movies to learn about history or the world, I go to be moved and/or entertained. Inacuraccies only bother me when the film fails to do that.
  17. VadersLaMent

    VadersLaMent Chosen One star 10

    Apr 3, 2002
    Innaccuacies don't bother me too much, in fact, sometimes it will make me want to do some reading to see the actual facts.

    In the Hurricane with D Washington, there is a scene where he boxes a white fighter whom, in the movie, he clearly beats but is called the loser by the racist judges. The reality is that Hurricane got his behind handed to him for 12 rounds and really did lose the fight.
  18. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    I vote with Walter Cronkite, and I thoroughly agree with him re: "JFK." If you want to know the actual story, try "Scandals, Scamps and Scoundrels: The Casebook of an Investigative Reporter" by James Phelan. Phelan does a through take-down of Jim Garrison (who falls squarely in the third category of the title.) A movie that paints this self-aggrandizing jerk as a hero gets no kudos from me.

  19. Darth_Asabrush

    Darth_Asabrush Jedi Grand Master star 5

    May 21, 2000
    Inaccuracy in films is a pet hate of mine.

    I'm not bothered by small details that add to the feel of a film or make the story more interesting to portray. My problem is when Hollywood executives change history to satisfy the domestic American audience!
  20. AmadeusExMachina

    AmadeusExMachina Jedi Youngling star 3

    May 19, 2002
    They don't chang history, that's ridiculous.

    Movies are about entertainment and storytelling, and news is about factual accuracy.

    If you ever watch a movie and pick it apart for factual inaccuracy, I pity you, because you'll probably hate Amadeus, Braveheart, the Godfather series, and of course, every war movie ever made, with the possible exception of Das Boot, which is uncannily realistic in detail.
  21. Darth_Asabrush

    Darth_Asabrush Jedi Grand Master star 5

    May 21, 2000
    I didn't say I watched films for historical accuracy.

    To deny that some films do not attempt to change history is naive. For years Hollywood has been guilty of ignoring truth over entertainment. As I said in my original post I am not against some poetic licence to make the story more enjoyable. However, I feel the movie business, with a world wide audience of billions should accept some responsibilty for facts.

    Entertainment and storytelling are not necessarily one in the same thing. Assuming this shows a lack of understanding of the medium of film.

    Assuming that films are just for entertainment is, quite frankly, short sighted!

    I am a fan of Shakespeare but accept that what is written is not necesarily fact. It doesn't stop me from enjoying his works. I love the Godfather series and am aware of inaccuracies in the film (being widely read in the field of organised crime). Again, I have not stated that every film should be 100% factual, so don't pity me!

    When it comes to portraying events which are close to a culture or society and relates to people and actions that are still at the fore front of memory, then yes, I say that the movie industry is wrong to change blantent facts!
  22. gwaernardel

    gwaernardel Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 5, 2001
    Movies where historical accuracy is actually important, like The Patriot, Bravheart, and Pocahontas, bug me when they change the details around. But movies where the point is more the story that is told (usually fictional), rather than the historic facts, such as Titanic and Gladiator, don't bother me at all. In these movies, you know they're not trying to tell the story of things that actually happened. The Titanic story was almost completely made up, and Gladiator was just a story loosely based on a small fact in history. They really had no duty to the facts.
  23. Darth_SnowDog

    Darth_SnowDog Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 10, 2001
    In Gladiator,the emperor was killed by a former soldier of Rome.In real life the Emperor was killed in the arena,but by a slave who had always lived a slaves life.

    Actually this is not true... Commodus was killed in his bathtub. (hence the word "commode," meaning "toilet" or "bathroom.") On December 31, 192, Commodus was strangled in his bathtub by an athlete named Narcissus.

    He did, however, fight a Roman General named Maximus, but the details of that Maximus' life doubtfully coincide with anything depicted in the film, Gladiator.

    Nonetheless, I liked the film as a piece of fiction... and wasn't really concerned with the historical accuracies. Film flubs are more of a source of amusement for me, rather than a source of irritation.

  24. Mr44

    Mr44 VIP star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    May 21, 2002
    I think your last sentence pretty well sums up what I think as well, Darth Snow Dog.

    Gladiator never claimed to be historically accurate. It was just based on past events, and was entertaining.

    Movies like Pearl Harbor claimed to be historically accurate in their pre-release press. If they brag, they better get their facts straight.

    I remember an incident here in Chicago that resulted from Die Hard II.( I know, a forgettable movie)In the movie, Bruce Willis' character made some comment about a Glock 90 porcelin pistol that could slip through metal detectors and were used by terrorists.

    Because of that, some politician wanted to ban Glocks because they were undetectable. This was simply not true. A Glock is just a normal pistol. Even if you had pro-gun or anti-gun views, the alderman ended up looking like an idiot because the movie had distorted reality.

  25. Ghost_of_Caesar

    Ghost_of_Caesar Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 27, 2000
    I tolerate films which make no pretense about being historical. Case in point being, as otehrs have stated, Gladiator. Pearl Harbour, on some levels made me want to retch, but, for me at lest, there were enough redeeming qualities to be able to enjoy the film.

    And that seems to be the point. Films are entertainment. They're not meant to teach us about history - that's what history books, flawed as they are, are for. Documentaries are supposed to be educational at some level, so if you want to learn about history, and don't want a text book, go watch Hitler's Henchmen or some such on the History Channel.

    Sometimes, the producers get it right, and mix both entertainment and lecture into a film. Das Boot being one - I've never seen such a chillingly accurate portrayal of war at any level - Gallipoli being another. Das Boot used for its sets an assortment of real and built from blueprint replicas of Type VIIC u-boats. It seems to me that films not made by Hollywood have a higher priority on historical attention to detail. Most "historical" films made by Hollywood get it wrong to some extent. The same sorts of films made on the overseas market tend to place a great deal of emphasis on making the film look right. I refer to Das Boot as my prime example. Peter Weir's Gallipoli being another.
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