Time magazine have come up with a list of 10 films with the worst historical inacurracies.
Top of their list is the Patriot starring Mel Gibson (who has two entries with The Patriot and Braveheart).
As the charge sheet on The patriot said:
Principal among the movie’s gross inaccuracies is the portrayal of British soldiers as evil, bloodthirsty sadists. In one scene, redcoats are seen rounding up a village of screaming women, children and old men, locking them in a church and setting the building ablaze. No such thing ever happened in the Revolutionary War. What’s worse? An almost identical crime — one of World War II’s most notorious atrocities — was carried out by Nazi soldiers in France in 1944. Meaning not only did the film paint a portrait of the British as cruel killers, it compared them to history’s worst: the Nazis.
Now, of course, movies are very rarely ever historically accurate but it is a bit rich when they are not only very inaccurate but that this then spoils the film and they blame an entire nation for something that they didn’t even do!
I have to admit that I went to see Robin Hood with Russell Crowe in it (no. 3 in the Time list). It was one of the worst films that it has been my misfortune to see. But the historical inaccuracies were the icing on the cake. I can never forget the French “Landing crafts”!!! It was like seeing a re-make of the Normandy landings in reverse in the 13th century – bizarre!
Russell Crowe is also one of those who has “form”. The earlier one that I remember mangling Roman history was, of course, Gladiator. The idea that the Republic was being introduced after the death of the Emperor Commodus was ridiculous. In fact Commodus was followed by 4 emperor’s in quick succession fighting for dominance. Commodus was in fact murdered in his bed etc etc.
Then there are the more “subtle” misrepresentations. Why are most of the Hollywood baddies or fall guys played by the British? A small example – the person who sets off the problems in Black Hawk Down (a muck-up entirely of the US’s making) is none other than our very own friendly elf Orlando Bloom.
Of course British films aren’t without their flaws as well. The King’s Speech (which is well worth seeing if you haven’t seen it) is certainly not without them. George VI comes across as an anti-Nazi pro-Churchill sort of guy when in fact he was very much on the side of Chamberlain and appeasement.
So what is your favourite film historical misrepresentation and why?