How accurate is Hollywood history?
Not every director is as fastidious with the past of course, with Hollywood history often slammed for getting its facts wrong. But is this fair? We ran some of Hollywood’s most celebrated history flicks past film history professor and all-round expert Dr Mark Glancy to find out.
Watered down... Titanic (Credit: Fox)
James Cameron and his crew tried to do the Titanic justice during their big screen treatment. The costumes and sets were also meticulously researched to ensure the right fabrics, furnishings and even crockery were used, whilst some shots were even filmed on the real wreck.
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The expert’s view: “It’s a good example of an approach to history that focuses on the furnishings... But it pushes the real characters to the margins and invents a wild melodrama as that’s what the audience is really interested in. That has to compromise its sense of history, these character’s don’t exist.”
Expert rating: Fair.
Often seen as one of the worst examples of Hollywood history. Some of the many ‘niggles’ historians have with it: kilts weren't worn in Scotland for some 300 years after Wallace's lifetime; the film’s hero was actually a landowner of some renown and not a poor villager; the implied relationship between Wallace and Isabella of France was unlikely, as she would have been three at the time of the battle where she supposedly fell for the blue-faced hero.
The expert’s view: “In the end it doesn’t matter so much if the characters are wearing the right shoes, or whether the painting over the mantle is in character. If you re-write history and impose values that are harmful to a group of people, that seems to me to be a much larger crime.”
Expert rating: Poor.
The Conspirator (2010)
Dull and void... The Conspirator (Credit: REX)