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 Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?

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LadyinRetirement
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Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? Empty
PostSubject: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptyFri 30 Aug 2019, 12:22

On this site discussion has been made periodically about the merits of historical dramatisations and whether they should be as accurate as possible, how much dramatic licence is acceptable in order to make a story palatable, and whether it is ever acceptable for a writer to apparently make it up as he/she goes along. 

I enjoy Shakespeare's "histories" for the language and the "story" though I realise that living in an age where the then monarch (for most of his life) was the granddaughter of Henry VII he could hardly write a play where he said Henry VII was a naughty person if he didn't want to end up in jail (or even worse).  I don't take the Shakespeare "histories" as historically accurate though people who criticise him for being "mean" about Richard III annoy me.

I've stated some time ago on other threads that I liked the 1933 The Private Life of Henry VIII starring Charles Laughton when I saw it on TV when I was even younger than I am now, but at that time I didn't realise it gave a version of history that wasn't 100% accurate.  As a pre-teen or teen (I can't remember which after the amount of time which has passed) I enjoyed the Hollywood version of the building of Khufu's pyramid The Land of the Pharaohs though viewed in retrospect from the end of the second decade of the 21st century the film comes off as somewhat cheesy despite boasting Jack Hawkins and James Robertson Justice* as two of the stars and as august a body as William Faulkner as one of the three scriptwriters (according to Wikipedia).

I haven't watched the more recent dramatisations of Alexandre Dumas's musketeer stories but there were some dramatisations (anyone else remember when the BBC used to dramatise a classic work on Sundays in the early evening?) of his works on the BBC back in the day.  I enjoyed a dramatisation of the musketeer story (the first book I think) that I saw in the 1950s and an adaptation of The Black Tulip.  I didn't know until relatively recently that there was a historical D'Artagnan although of course Dumas very much put his own spin on the character when creating the book personage.  Also "tulip mania" was a thing (if memory serves me well it has been discussed on this site at some stage) though again it was Dumas's own version of tulip mania that featured in his book.  I read The Three Musketeers when I was in my (late-ish) teens but I can't say I really enjoyed it (the book was adapted again in the 1960s).  I might have been a little too old for the story then.

I wasn't able to "get into" the one novel I tried by the lady who thinks nobody besides herself ever twigged that Ann Boleyn had a sister but I know people in real life as opposed to cyberspace who enjoy that lady's novels despite knowing they are inaccurate.

Paul Docherty's historical murder mysteries are a guilty pleasure of mine.  He is a qualified historian but I think he bends the facts sometimes for the sake of a good story.

So I must own up to having sometimes enjoyed a tale of derring-do even though it may not have been a true depiction of the historical facts it was supposed to represent.  There is a danger that people may pick up a distorted view of history from a historical depiction which is in the "romp" camp rather than the "reality" camp.  Maybe the danger is less if people realise that the "romp" variety of history is just meant to be entertainment.  I have no desire to watch Kingdom of Heaven or The Favourite because my understanding is that they mess with history.  So, I'm inconsistent myself - some inaccurate versions of history I'll admit to having enjoyed as entertainment (though in some cases I didn't know of the inaccuracy at the time I was introduced to the film/play).

* For ages I thought the role in question was played by Peter Ustinov.  Maybe because I tended to associate James Robertson Justice with the "Doctor" comedy films, though of course his acting portfolio ranged far beyond that series of films.


Last edited by LadyinRetirement on Fri 30 Aug 2019, 13:53; edited 1 time in total
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptyFri 30 Aug 2019, 13:29

Of course it's ok. If it's entertaining then why wouldn't one enjoy it?

As long as one doesn't think it's valid history, per se. Though one can still glean a few snippets of accurate history from many dramatisations (even unlikely ones), and in some better examples even a little insight into an historical person's possible character, or at least as good a guess as any weighty historian might venture in any equally weighty academic tome.

If faced with a choice between "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and "Robin Hood. Men in Tights", I've no problem deciding which one I'd opt for 100% of the time.
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Dirk Marinus
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptySat 31 Aug 2019, 07:35

History is often not a complete accurate and comprehensive account of facts, but only what the dominant or orthodox view of the time has recorded for posterity.

And when history becomes legend, write /print the legend.


Dirk
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptySat 31 Aug 2019, 22:49

@Dirk Marinus wrote:
History is often not a complete accurate and comprehensive account of facts, but only what the dominant or orthodox view of the time has recorded for posterity.

And when history becomes legend, write /print the legend.


Dirk

Dirk, of course you are right. We spent hundreds of pages on this question: On the BBC. On Passion Histoire: Is history writing a science. Also overhere with nordmann and or former contributor Ferval. Also on Historum...and we never found a clear cut answer...

I will try with an example to LiR what is my point of view on her question.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 00:04

Lady,

in general I am of the same opinion as nordmann, but I want to give an example of how I see your question how much dramatic licence is acceptable.
When I now some three years ago during one year three times a week four hours on the kidney dialysis I read each day, many times over several days, an English language or a French language historical novel and many I commented here and did historical reseach about it.

For instance the novel of Allison Weir about Eleanor of Aquitaine.
I saw when I read the historical novel that she wrote a history book about the same Eleanor.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/111220.Eleanor_of_Aquitaine
But I read her, I suppose certainly less boring, historical novel: The captive queen.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7076074-captive-queen
And there Allison Weir has not the strict historical restrictions as in her historical work, and there she can take, because she read perhaps real related documents, the dramatic licence, to let the voluptuous Eleanor in anticipation to masturbate herself...also seems Allison to like to develop in detail the intrigues at the French court, especially of the men and there she is perhaps a bit biased. But in this bias she wants perhaps to point to the many nearly diabolic persons, who try to influence the French king.

Lady, I have I think other examples in that sense of historical novels that I read during that year.
http://enviedhistoire.canalblog.com/archives/2006/10/27
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Leszczyńska
https://www.amazon.fr/don-daimer-Marie-Leczinska-France/dp/2857044992
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Kind regards from Paul.
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Hatshepsut
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 10:47

This is a lightweight reply, but I sometimes enjoy bad historical portrayals, particularly the Hollywood versions.

 "The Black Shield of Falworth" is a good example; Tony Curtis running about with a plastic shield and a greasy 1950s quiff, speaking his lines as a supposed English knight but in a strong Brooklyn accent. Then there's Victor Mature as Samson, or John Wayne as a Roman soldier. Pure hokum.
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Green George
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 21:21

There is a famous but untrue story concerning John Wayne’s only line of dialogue in the Crucifixion scene of The Greatest Story Ever Told, and this is the time to put the record straight. According to legend, Wayne said his line “Truly this was the Son of God” three times, none of them to Stevens’s satisfaction. So Stevens said, “Can you give it a little more awe, Duke?” and Duke said, “Aw, this was truly the Son of God.” Very funny. But not true.

The source is Michael Munn, John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth
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Hatshepsut
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 21:38

What about Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? The boat lands at Dover and, within hours, Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman arrive on horseback at Hadrians Wall. We can't do that in a car!
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Green George
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 22:05

@Hatshepsut wrote:
What about Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? The boat lands at Dover and, within hours, Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman arrive on horseback at Hadrians Wall. We can't do that in a car!

That's cos you only have a driving licence. You need a dramatic licence instead.

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 22:46

Hatsheput and GG,

wanted to comment further this evening to you Hatsheput, but got catched in search for a thread about Fascism on Passion Histoire among others reading again this thread about Hannah Arendt.
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com/t1089-hannah-arendt-and-totalitarism

Kind regards to both from Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 08:17

@Green George wrote:
@Hatshepsut wrote:
What about Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? The boat lands at Dover and, within hours, Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman arrive on horseback at Hadrians Wall. We can't do that in a car!

That's cos you only have a driving licence. You need a dramatic licence instead.



BouncyHappy

Excellent! (disambiguation required)

Wayne may not have done the "awe" thing, but that doesn't demote him from the "Really Bad Casting" roll of honour in historical movie casting. This film produced by Howard Hughes, besides accidentally killing half its crew and cast with radiation poisoning (including Wayne, it's said), also managed to eventually get revenge on Genghis Khan for his historical massacre of innocents by doing a pretty effective massacre of Khan himself ....



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Hatshepsut
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 08:33

Well, I can safely say that after that trailer, I shall actively avoid the film (not that it has been on UK TV recently to my knowledge).  It's not the hammy acting or silly story I object to, it's the mistreatment of animals. The horses were obviously tripped and that is animal abuse.

We have a very good channel for British films which is worth finding if you like old black & white films - "Talking Pictures" .

It has all the British actors of yesteryear - John Mills, Alistair Sim, Wilfred Hyde White, Michael Redgrave, Alec Guinness. Lots of classic cars, plummy accents, cheerful Cockneys, char women etc.

If it's raining and miserable outdoors, switch on Talking Pictures and you might have a treat.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 23:13

@Hatshepsut wrote:
This is a lightweight reply, but I sometimes enjoy bad historical portrayals, particularly the Hollywood versions.

 "The Black Shield of Falworth" is a good example; Tony Curtis running about with a plastic shield and a greasy 1950s quiff, speaking his lines as a supposed English knight but in a strong Brooklyn accent. Then there's Victor Mature as Samson, or John Wayne as a Roman soldier. Pure hokum.
 
Hatsheput,

as you, I enjoyed them all, most Hollywood films came here in Belgium too, first in small town near Ghent, where I lived and where there were nevertheless 3 cinemas, then later in Ostend end the Fifties and where there were 11 cinemas.
And then and perhaps even now historical accuracy was not important (also as the general public didn't know anything about history apart from the great tales as "Robin Hood" and the "Three Muskateers" and all that...cinemascope what was required and action and grand actors...Errol Flynn and all.


And your Tony Curtis film


Hatsheput, I wanted this evening at the end start with my take about your question, but again midnight overhere and tomorrow early work to do...

Thank you for the link that you provided... I am interested in old films...if I ever have time in my life...
https://talkingpicturestv.co.uk

Can I watch it online at my computer?
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo7JuvFRGPhmAGsOMoLmHXw

Kind regards from Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptyTue 03 Sep 2019, 22:09

@Hatshepsut wrote:
What about Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? The boat lands at Dover and, within hours, Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman arrive on horseback at Hadrians Wall. We can't do that in a car!

Hatsheput, as I mentioned to LiR, for me the details aren't that important, but I like that the historical frame in which the acts happen are realistic and when some of the main characters are real historical persons I ask at least that the author takes the precaution that one studies the available sources to portray them as accurate as possible. For the rest for me the author has as much dramatic licence as he want to stuff his story. During my life, I suppose, I read between 200 and 400 historical novels, most from the World Wars, as I,  from youngster on, was interested in history. And I have to say that most authors stuck to my version as mentioned in my former sentence...

Of course, when one want to make a satirical story as the Monty Python or Allo, Allo...one has more room for manoeuvre as such satires demand it...for instance "the great dictator" from Charley Chaplin...

What I don't like, but that's personal, is stuff as "Game of Thrones" and I now see that it is an American series, I first thought that it was about a British dynasty Embarassed

Kind regards from Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptyTue 03 Sep 2019, 22:09

@Hatshepsut wrote:
What about Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? The boat lands at Dover and, within hours, Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman arrive on horseback at Hadrians Wall. We can't do that in a car!

Hatsheput, as I mentioned to LiR, for me the details aren't that important, but I like that the historical frame in which the acts happen are realistic and when some of the main characters are real historical persons I ask at least that the author takes the precaution that one studies the available sources to portray them as accurate as possible. For the rest for me the author has as much dramatic licence as he want to stuff his story. During my life, I suppose, I read between 200 and 400 historical novels, most from the World Wars, as I,  from youngster on, was interested in history. And I have to say that most authors stuck to my version as mentioned in my former sentence...

Of course, when one want to make a satirical story as the Monty Python or Allo, Allo...one has more room for manoeuvre as such satires demand it...for instance "the great dictator" from Charley Chaplin...

What I don't like, but that's personal, is stuff as "Game of Thrones" and I now see that it is an American series, I first thought that it was about a British dynasty Embarassed

Kind regards from Paul.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptyTue 03 Sep 2019, 23:11

To be fair, Paul, Game of Thrones is a grimdark fantasy rather than a historical tale though the author of the source novels (the first book in the series on which the TV show is based is also called Game of Thrones) has taken elements of history and changed them and added fantastical elements such as dragons and ice zombies.  One of the female characters in the story who rides a dragon, it has been suggested, may have been based in part on Henry VII who had a dragon banner (but obviously not a real live dragon) when he invaded England.  Then again in lighter vein there was a children's cartoon series Jane and the Dragon where a female character rode a dragon, so who knows, the man behind the books behind the GoT show could have seen Jane and the Dragon and taken the idea of a lady riding a dragon from there.  The show is (very) loosely based on the Wars of the Roses - there are Starks and Lannisters rather than Yorks and Lancasters but the similarity is very superficial and the inspirational characters from real life and the fantasy show persons don't exactly match. The writer is a fan of Tolkein but wanted to write a darker sort of fantasy - and also likes H P Lovecraft and there are probably other influences I haven't mentioned. I'm not really a great one for fantasy myself but I did become interested in GoT and wanted to know what happened next.  With GoT having had popular success (even though some people didn't like the ending - I didn't think it was so bad myself) it looks like there are going to be a few fantasy series finding their way on to the TV in the not so distant future, though some are on channels like Amazon (which I for one don't have access to).

My father had a bee in his bonnet about not liking "commercial" TV (i.e. the ITV that was paid for by advertisements rather than the BBC which was paid for by a licence) so at one stage in my childhood I had to go to friends' houses (who had ITV) to see children's programmes about legendary characters such as William Tell, Robin Hood and Ivanhoe (well Ivanhoe wasn't a legend - he was a character from a Walter Scott novel).  There are still clips from these shows on YouTube and they seem very dated now but I can still appreciate the late Willoughby Goddard as Landburger Gessler.

My knowledge of military history is on a scale of non-existent to very basic but I have heard people whose knowledge of such matters is better than my own wax lyrical about how certain helmets shown in armour in some historical battles don't belong to the period depicted. (Norman helmets worn by Viking warriors in Vikings was an example I heard mentioned.
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Green George
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptyTue 03 Sep 2019, 23:26

Possible GoT dragon lady is derived from Lessa in Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonriders of Pern", or even Liessa,  Pratchett's spoof on her in "The Colour of Magic".
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc. Is it okay?   Enjoying bad (well inaccurate) historical portrayals, dramatisation etc.  Is it okay? EmptyWed 04 Sep 2019, 15:23

I didn't know that, Gilgamesh (about Anne McCaffrey's work). Like I mentioned before I don't habitually read much fantasy these days but I checked out Game of Thrones when there was a lot of talk about it and found I liked it better than I expected to.  I am not averse to mythical stories (not that I'm expecting winged Mercury to bring me a message while I type at my laptop this afternoon).  I read some of Andrew Lang's and Roger Llancellyn Green's works when I was a child/young teenager (with RLG I probably focused on his collection of stories about King Arthur and his knights).  I don't read much sic-fi either.  I read some Asimov when I was younger.  I can't remember the name of the story but there was a science-fiction story I read (not Capricorn One) where an astronaut was supposed to have lost his life in a space voyage and then later the teller of the (first person) story meets someone who looks very much like the dead astronaut (just a chance meeting - and they pass each other by and go their independent ways quickly).  The reader never knows if the astronaut's death was faked or if it was a freak resemblance.  I'm not sure if that WAS an Asimov story but I did wonder if that story had sparked the notion that some people have that the moon landings were faked.

I've never read Sir Terry Pratchett's work though I saw (some of) a cartoon version of Discworld on the TV in the 1990s and quite liked it.
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