Historical Inaccuracies in Movies

My husband is almost to the point of refusing to watch movies with me that have a historical setting. He says it sort of ruins it for him when I bark out every five minutes, “Hey! They weren’t wearing * that * in (year),” or “That hadn’t even been invented yet!”

I understand that sometimes perfect accuracy is seen as “getting in the way” of plot lines, but minor details such as incorrect costumes or props can totally turn me off to a film. (And that’s not even mentioning major gaffes such as dates and characters.)

Just as an example, Hubby and I watched the * North And South * miniseries not too long ago, and I pointed out that married women did not wear low-cut ball gowns outside in the daytime. When we watched * The Patriot * I laughed at the spiffy-clean uniforms of the British soldiers. (Portable dry-cleaning on the battlefield?)

Do little mistakes like this bother the rest of you history buffs?

Forsooth! But even Shakespeare had them. I seem to remember a clock and a jacket in Julius Caesar.

For me part of the fun of movies is spotting them. But if your husband is into a state of suspended disbelief, I can understand why he would not want to be brought back to reality.

I’m pretty good at spotting music from the late 1950’s in movies about the early and mid fifties. And I’m pretty good at remembering hair-styles by decade.

As for historical importance, I believe that in the last couple of years a movie about the Enigma decoding device had the U.S. Navy doing something that the British Navy actually did.

you’re talking historical nitpicking. I’m no history buff, but I do think they’re fun. Spotting a jet contrail or a set of telephone lines in a story set in Roman times or thereabouts is always a hoot.

Lissa, I agree with you. What bugs me most though are not costuming inaccuracies, as I can’t always spot them. It’s the historical accuracies. Like having Mel Gibson boink a French princess that wouldn’t even have arrived in England yet. Or Cate Blanchett going nuts the way she did in Elizabeth. That movie was probably the most historically inaccurate of any I’ve seen. Or seeing wheeled vehicles in the city of Rome during the day, or armed troops(at least during the Republican period).

There are gazillions of these kinda things, and many internet sites devoted to them.

MovieMistakes.com and SlipUps.com for example.

Take pretty much ANY warfilm, and you can usually rip them to pieces for using the wrong rifle, or using a wrong period armoured vehicle etc etc

That’s the least of this movie’s crimes against history.

FTR, minor inaccuracies like clothing details or hairstyles don’t really bother me that much, but the really egregious stuff drives me up the wall. Worst recent example was that execrable submarine movie U571 in which an American sub crew recovers a German Enigma machine. And to top it all off, the director was actually surprised when UK moviegoers were pissed off.

Well, I watched “We Were Soldiers” on DVD last night and the whole film was ruined by the location. I don’t know where it was filmed but it looked like some country club or a golf course somewhere. :frowning:

I get bent out of shape when I watch a Movie or TV show that features specifically the US Navy, but other branches of the Military incorrectly.

For example, I was checking out JAG on CBS and they had an episode, where a woman was the first fighter pilot off an Aircraft Carrier, and a woman Senator, was making the Navy fly her, even though the Commanding Officer grounded her. A senator has that kind of pull, sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong, over the CO, or the fleet Admiral. OK, the pilot goes back to flight rotation, and she crashes her very expensive jet and kills herself, but not her Navigator - who was also a Woman. Gee, Senator, you think the CO knows what he’s doing when he grounds the pilot.

In that same episode two JAG officers are on the Aircraft Carrier’s flight Deck, one male and one female in Uniform, and they’re talking and the girl goes, if you want to kiss me you can, and he does. You can not kiss anyone on a ship and especially not in Uniform.

Shows/Movies who can’t get a military consultant, or do homework about the military - kill me. For the proper dress in uniform cause I’ve seen where the uniform is worn wrong, and a female has long hair and doesn’t put it up, or too much or wrong kind of make up, or jewelry is incorrect, or a male has his hair too long. Or when they have regulations, military etiquette incorrect.

I reccomend avoiding Shanghai Knights. Fast and loose with history - but in a good way :wink:

Ha! U-571, may have been bad, but let’s face it - Braveheart had them fighting the Battle of Stirling Bridge with no bridge! Especially when the bridge was such an integral part of the English defeat. And that business about inventing really long spears to take down the horses? What a crock. And no mention of Andrew de Moray? Another crock.

And of course, the Scots didn’t put up nearly the fight at Falkirk as it looks like in the movie. And no Irish troops charging and joining the Scots. Just English bowmen severely thinning the Scottish ranks and then a cavalry charge that annihilated them.

And of course, Robert Bruce wasn’t really prompted by nationality but because he had killed the Comyn in a church and if he didn’t take the Scottish throne and hold of Edward he was dead.

And they call Edward a cruel pagan in the intro. Cruel he may have been, but not any worse than anyone else at the time, and a pagan he certainly was not.

OK, I’m done.

Well, in The Elephant Man they called him “John” when there was already proof that his real name was “Joseph”. For some reason, the real Treves crossed out the name “Joseph” when writing his memoirs and called him “John”. Also, they switch some events around, but probably for dramatic purposes.

Oh, yeah, my friends know better than to go see history-based movies with me. Comedies like Shanghai Knights don’t bug me–it’s clearly all in fun, and no one is supposed to take it seriously. It’s when movies claim to be serious studies of an event that it gets me. It’s torturous–I love history and a good story, but so often those movies drive me mad with their inaccuracies.

What gets me most are anachonistic attitudes. 'Cause we all know that the only racists in the 19th century were nasty villains, not people like Leo DiCaprio. And, of course, working class servants or medieval peasants would think nothing of talking back to wealthy landowners. Gaah!

I think I must have been the only person in the theater thinking “Enough with the kissy-face! Give me more 16th century politics!”

I’m in complete agreement. Strange, I never knew that Vietnam looked so much like southern California…

And how about Enemies at the Gate and the way they had all those Germans and Russians talking English?

Yeah, I noticed in ‘A Knight’s Tale…’

Never mind.

I am already clenching my buttcheeks in anticipation of how much the upcoming Colditz movie is going to piss me off (and not only because that yammering mannequin Tom Cruise is slated to star).

Lissa, have you seen Topsy-Turvey?

My brother in law who knows a great deal about military history was pretty peeved to see the British soldiers wearing their red coats in combat in “The Four Feathers”. He tells me they changed their field uniforms a few years prior to this after a failed Egyptian campaign.

He also knews what kind of weapons they would have been carrying, their effective ranges, and calibre.

He knew that in this Sudanese war, it was the first time the British square formation was broken.

Pretty cool and not really that annoying.

I presume that he was thinking of the Sudanese War (Gordon Relief) of 1884-1885. The Brits won all the battles, but they failed to save Gordon.

The film “Manhattan Melodrama” (best known for the fact that Dillinger was shot after seeing it) has a great error. As I recall, a plot point is that the gangster saved the DA in the General Slocum fire of 1904. Not only do neither of them have German names, but they’re also a few years too young (the film is set in 1934).

I’m usually not nit-picky about some innacuracies. I didn’t mind that they changed the order of events for Man On The Moon, for example.

The one movie with inaccuracies that did really bug me was Quills. The depictions of de Sade and his writings/philosophy were inaccurate and ridiculous.

Braveheart-Cecil debunked the whole “right of first night” thingy, for crying out loud! ARGH!