Finding this article in the Times Online about the top ten most historically inaccurate movies reminded me that this sort of thing is one of my major bug bears. I’m getting better as I get older, and there are some movies that I like enough to give a free pass, but this seriously annoyed me back in the day when I was studying history. In fact my dislike of some movies was so vehement that my friends would avoid putting on historical movies when I was around. I think I missed an invite to watch Alexander at the cinema for the same reason but I don’t think that was much of a loss (I still haven’t bothered to watch it).
I had such a fit while watching A Knight’s Tale (a movie Rufus Sewell, Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany and Heath Ledger couldn’t save) that my friends almost turned it off to stop me complaining. It illustrated so many things that are wrong with vaguely historical movies and tried to pass it off as funny and amusing. The camera pan of London where all the houses were Tudor style started it and then to be super helpful someone pointed out the character that was meant to be Chaucer (Aaaaah!). Yeah, not helping me like it.
But it is not the worst offender which is an honour reserved for King Arthur, the awful, awful movie with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley. So, so wrong…and for more than just historical reasons. The history it was based on was at least 20 years out of date (yes people, history changes with perceptions and new discoveries) and they completely changed the result of the battles (assuming there actually were any). I spent most of this movie imagining alternate story lines for the characters by reading too much into the badly scripted lines but even that didn’t help (and my version was way better anyway). Click here for a page of goofs.
I also hated Gladiator. The Emperor should have won. Maximus was a hypocrite. And if I have to watch Derek Jacobi wear Roman getup again (he better not think about stuttering either) I will do something bad.
FYI Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was a terrible movie but it gets a free pass because Alan Rickman is in it and is the most awesome Sheriff ever (and I also may have liked Christian Slater way back in the early nineties ssshhhh don’t tell anyone…)