Inaccuracies in Movies

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

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  1. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    If your subject is the defenceless dead, then you can say pretty much what you like (otherwise the descendants of Captain Bligh would be suing right and left.) If they are alive, you have to have their permission, or you have to change them enough to escape identification.

  2. Wardo_Fett Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 2
    I haven't seen a movie that has an error in it.
  3. Darth_Dagsy Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2000
    star 6
    Scientific innaccuracies bug the crap out of me.

    For example, in Spiderman, they threw together a few scientific terms, completely out of context, and expected people to believe that the scientists delivering the comments knew what they were talking about. Add to that the notion that DNA is transferred during spider bite (venom is usually proteins/anaesthetics and the like). Furthermore we are supposed to believe that the trillions of trillions of cells in the human body can be amazingly transformed overnight. That spider DNA somehow might have the ability to cause other DNA to alter its own structure.

    I couldnt help but to laugh.

    But yes, poor scientific accuracy is annoying.
  4. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    In my opinion, films don't need to be historically accurate. A film, like Ebert said, is supposed to involve and move you emotionally. Braveheart did that, so who cares if it was mostly tripe? Same for a Beautiful Mind, Gladiator, etc.

    The one thing that most people don't consider when they watch a film is perspective. Most films with historical innaccuricies don't really claim to be neutral.

    For example, didn't Braveheart basically admit that it was propaganda? The opening begins with a narrator saying that he will tell us the story of William Wallace. He then says, "There are those who will call me a lier, but remember, history was written by those who have killed heroes." Basically, he admits that the story is going to be slanted in favor of the Scottish.

    Same with Amadeus, another film that gets bashed for historical innaccuracies. The whole film was basically a huge flashback from Salieri's perspective. Mozart might not have been as extreme as the movie portrayed him, but remember who's eyes were seeing Mozart through.

    Perspective explains a lot.
  5. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    You are right, Perspective is a POWERFUL tool.
    The movie Stalingrad is an excellent illustration of differing perspectives during WWII.

    But there is a difference between using perspective to achieve a cinematic effect, and distorting the facts or just geeting them wrong.

    In the Patriot, Mel Gibson's perspective dominates the film. I don't think that the British General (was it Cornwallis?)was that bloodthirsty, but one could argue that was how Mel's character viewed him.

    However, the General wasn't killed during the war, he returned back to England. This is simply an inaccurate portrayal to show that the "Patriot" killed him. It wouldn't have changed the movie to show the truth, except eliminate a cheesy Hollywood death scene.

    You can't make a "historic" WWII movie and show the heroic GI capture Hitler and force him to stand trial. It's just not the truth. You could have a completely fictional tale, but don't call it accurate.
  6. Melyanna Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2001
    star 4
    I'm not so much a stickler for historical accuracy - I've pretty much given up on that in movies. But it seriously irritates me when it just looks like the director was just lazy and didn't do his research, as in the aforementioned Spiderman. And as for my original comments about the languages in The Bourne Identity - why in heaven's name couldn't they have gotten real Swiss people to play the Swiss people instead of using people who spoke the dialect of German spoken in northern Germany? And on top of that, there are three or four official languages in Switzerland - why didn't we hear those as well?

    Ah well, maybe I'm just annoyed by the fact that someone who's paid a lot more than me either didn't know or didn't care.

    Mel
  7. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Good point, Mel.
    The studio can spend 3,000 dollars just to keep Matt Damon's trailer stocked with cold drinks, but they can't even get a couple of people to speak the right Swiss dialect?

    I guess you have to have your priorities...
    ;)
  8. lavjoricso Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2001
    star 4
    I got that Gladiator bit from the 'History Channel' [face_shocked]



    T.V lied :( !!!
  9. DarthPhelps Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2002
    star 5
    I've been thinking about this topic for a while as I read the posts. Good arguments for and against historical inaccuracies. I also have come to resign the fact that hollywood will do whatever they want to history, but since it's in the name of artistic integrity and/or moving the story along (etc) I don't get too bent out of shape. Unfortunately, I don't get too much viewing of the History channel, and it's been years since high school, so if a movie passes itself off as 'true', but isn't - it'll cause me to believe historical untruths. If I hadn't read in this thread that the British General didn't really die, I'd be left thinking for some time that he actually did. Oh, well.

    Inaccuracies due to poor editing bugs me a little more. The one that sticks out in my mind right now is from Eraser (which I enjoy). Near the end, when the fight occured on the docks, there was a melee on a shipping crate on a crane. First a gun was 'here' on the crate, then there, then back 'here' again. Tsk. Tsk.

    Re: Spiderman. They felt they needed to update the story. Inaccurate, sure, but it's better than the comic book radiation explanation. In reality Parker would have gotten cancer and died some 10-30 years later or something, I imagine. Gene research is newer and more hip, and they can pass off that technical mumbo jumbo right over the average joe's head. Shoot - I got over the Star Trek (& other sci-fi) techno babble some time ago.
  10. TremontiFan23 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 3
    On the subject of inaccuracies... could someone please tell me how that one torpedo in U-571 blows up the German Destroyer? That'd have to be one pretty good shot to the boiler room to blow that thing up completely. I've debated this with friends before, but I'd just like to hear others' opinions.
  11. Ki-Adi Bundi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2000
    star 4
    The innacuracy that bothers me most is that one in the Matrix (I know, it has heaps): people being used as batteries for machines. Holy Lord of Impossibility. I admit I liked the movie, but I get astonished at how many people overlooked that and said it was "minor" detail.
  12. FurryDuck Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2001
    star 4
    Inaccuracies don't really bother me- I actually kind of enjoy looking for them. I was just watching Apollo 13, and some things I noticed:

    -Lovell stands up right before he gets out of the ship. That is highly unlikely because he wasn't used to gravity; his legs would probably be like jelly.

    -In the end commentary, it says that Ken Mattingly orbited the moon, and it also shows him smoking a cigar while he's celebrating. You can't smoke if you're an astronaut- your lungs would burst in space.
  13. Ghost_of_Caesar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2000
    star 4
    Tremontifan23, regarding the sinking of the destroyer in U-571, it could nver have happened, because after the Bismarck was sunk, with the rare exceptions such as the Scharnhorst battle group, no German surface ships ventured out into the Atlantic beyond the range of Luftwaffe air cover.

    But for the sake of the film, had such an event happened, it would have required direct hit detonating under the keel of the destroyer in precisely the spot needed to cause shock damage to the ship's magazine. With the technology available in WW2, such a shot would have been insanely lucky, since the magnetic detonators on the German torpedoes so equipped were not 100% reliable, and the remainder of torps were contact fused. Still, a great deal of luck could have done the trick. What I have a beef with in that film is the submarine to submarine combat at the beginning of the film (technologically impossible for the era), the use of a US "S" class submarine (they were, TTBOMK assigned to Pacific Fleet) and the comments Jonathon Mostow made regarding the U-boat sailors of the Kriegsmarine. He implied in an interview that it was a common event for U-boat crews to machine gun lifeboats and survivors, which is directly in contradiction to the fact that only one U-boat was ever proven to have committed such an offence. The captain and senior officers of that boat were tried in the war crimes tribunals after WW2 and at least one of the defendants was hanged.
  14. Darth Dark Helmet Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 27, 1999
    star 6
    For the most part, inaccuracies don't bother me. There has only been one movie where inaccuracies really bothered me, and that was "From Hell" And it was mainly because it was one of those movies that touted its accuracy in the Ripper case, and I was really excited to see it. And then when I watched it and it was just bad. Everytime inaccuracy just took me out of the movie,a nd I could never get into it because of them.

    Changing facts abotu things for a movie is fine, as long as you don't tout the movie as accurate in any way shape or form.
  15. gwaernardel Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2001
    star 4
    I completely agree. One my favorite recent movies was A Knight's Tale. This film makes absolutely no pretense of being historically accurate. In fact, it goes out of its way to show you that it is extremely inaccurate.
    I really wish that more movies could do this. Absolute and total accuracy isn't always what people are looking for...they want entertainment. I think that's why movies like Spiderman really don't bother me at all...they're pop culture movies. They're not concerned with the science of it and really, neither am I. I'm just there to be shown a good time for a few hours.
  16. Paranorina Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 14, 2001
    star 4
    There is no air in outa space, so how come you can hear the spaceships explode in Star Wars? :p
  17. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    But it seriously irritates me when it just looks like the director was just lazy and didn't do his research, as in the aforementioned Spiderman

    How can you let a scientific innacuracy bother you in a fantasy film based on a superhero comic book? :confused:
  18. Darth_Tim Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 4
    RE U-571:

    Actually, a destroyer is a rather small vessel (usually around 1000-2000 tons displacement in WW2 timeframe) which was unarmored. In the Pacific several destroyers (both Japanese and American) were sunk by single torpedoes from either submarines or destroyers/cruisers.

    As for "one shot doing damage" one might recall HMS Hood (single shell exploding the magazine) Bismarck (aerial torpedo wrecking the rudder and rendering the ship incapable of controlled maneuvering beyond wallowing around in circles), Arizona (single bomb in magazine), Taiho (single torpedo hit, although would not have been fatal had not the inexperienced officer in charge of damage control decide to open all vents to get rid of fuel vapors, which spread throughout the ship and ignited.), or Princeton (single Kamikaze hit which exploded in a hangar full of fully loaded and fuelled torpedo planes) That sort of thing happened more often than one would think.

    -Tim
  19. Ghost_of_Caesar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2000
    star 4
    I realise that, Darth_Tim, and acknowledge all the golden BB shots of the war. However, my point was that the shot depicted in U-571 was incredibly lucky in that the torpedo had to travel striaght down 1 degree of bearing and detonate in precisely the correct spot to cause the explosion it did. Most, if not all successful torpedo attacks during WW2 were beam attacks, that is, firing from one side and hoping for the best. Standard tactics in the Kreigsmarine was to fire a spread of four torpedoes at the target.
  20. Darth_Tim Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 4
    Right. American doctrine was the same (firing a spread from a beam shot) but then again, U-571 didn't really have a choice in the matter, and since the shot HAD to hit to have the movie end as it did...LOL.

    If I want a good sub movie I'll watch my Das Boot DVD. Hehe.

    -Tim



  21. Darth_Tim Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 4
    He implied in an interview that it was a common event for U-boat crews to machine gun lifeboats and survivors, which is directly in contradiction to the fact that only one U-boat was ever proven to have committed such an offence. The captain and senior officers of that boat were tried in the war crimes tribunals after WW2 and at least one of the defendants was hanged. >>

    Yeah. But God forbid Hollywood might make the Germans look *gasp* HUMAN!!! (incidentally the Kriegsmarine was, esp. early in the war, populated with far more military professionals than hardcore Nazis.)

    Ironically, such practice was common in the Pacific on both sides.

    -Tim
  22. Ghost_of_Caesar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2000
    star 4
    BTW, it was not at all uncommon practice to machine gun lifeboats, but only after survivors had been picked up. Both sides did that. After all, machine gun ammo is cheap and there's barely enough room on a naval vessel for the rostered crew, let alone retrieving lifeboats from sunken ships.

    One thing I'd like to comment on is the attention to detail Steven Speilberg put into making Saving Private Ryan. Granted, he did put huge amounts of effort into getting it look right, but even on the first viewing, I noticed glaring mistakes, all to do with readily available technical info that could have been found by any competent researcher.

    1. When Miller's squad attacks the machine gun nest under the radar station, where is the machine gun crew's support section? The standard German Army machine gun section in WW2 was for a machine gunner, loader, spotter, squad leader and up to six others detailed to provide perimeter security for the machine gun. On numbers alone, the American squad would have been outnumbered, and a frontal assault on an MG-42 position was a quick way to a unmarked grave. The film only depicts, IIRC, three men at the machine gun nest.

    2. The Tiger tank that attacks the heroes in the finale is actually a modified T-34 tank. The differences lie in the road wheels on the tank - Tigers have overlapping twin rows of road wheels, while T-34s don't.

    3. The unit of SS that attacks the heroes in the end is specified as being from 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich". "Das Reich" was in fact stationed in the south of France, nowhere near Normandy at the time the events of SPR take place.
  23. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    When the distortion or mistake is connected to a plot point, possibly it's justified. When it's just damned carelessless, it's less tolerable.

    I find mistakes in physics and science really annoying.

  24. Darth_Tim Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 4
    Actually Tiger had 3 rows of wheels...Panther had 2.

    Jackson signals he sees "Tiger and 2 Panzers" which is rather odd, as technically all German tanks, Tigers included, are "panzers" (Tiger being Pz VI) but Pz1-IV were unnamed. Though in fact the other vehicle is I think a Marder tank destroyer and not technically a tank at all rather a "jagdpanzer" (tank destroyer).
    Of course, this was probably just generic terminology for "1 Tiger and 2 smaller tanks" but still, it seemed odd when I first saw that part.

    -Tim
  25. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    What I hate is when people get really really nitpicky. For instance, The Usual Suspects is my favorite movie and has lots of fans and some of them are bothered by things like, "when the cigarette lights the trail of gasoline at the beginning, you can tell it's not gasoline but petrolium." I'm just like, "WHAT???"

    And I think there's another kind of mistake besides just idiocy and for the sake of the story. A lot of the time it's for the sake of the performance. Like in TUS, Keaton's cigarette is constantly lit/unlit, short/long, etc. in the scene outside the police station, but the editor pointed out that he did this in order to keep the best performance together because he felt it was more important.

    ... No one knows the parts of the movie I'm talking about, do they? Lol....

    -sj loves kevin spacey
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