Friday, December 22, 2023

Fuck historical accuracy



I wasn't sure about seeing the new Napoleon film, but the thing that tipped me over to going to it last week was that while the reviews were very mixed, the ones didn't like the film all complained that the characters were treated with insufficient respect, and the historical account was about as accurate as an old timey musket.

So of course I have to see it after that, because I don't give a flying fuck about either of those issues.

All the best movies about great historical figures don't mind admitting that their main characters are complete fucking lunatics. Lawrence of Arabia loses his soul somewhere out there in the desert, and Napoleon has already been chewed up by great actors onscreen - Albert Dieudonn√© set the standard for over-the-to portrayals of the little man in the silent era, Rod Steiger really went for it with genuinely startling vigor in 1970's Waterloo, and we can not forget the the immortal performance of Terry Camilleri doing the full Ziggy Piggy in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.    

But it's the claims of historical inaccuracy that I really, really don't care about, because only complete fucking idiots think these things are 100 percent accurate. We all know they're conflating characters, reinterpreting huge events and straight up making shit up. It's so obviously not real history, that anybody that can't tell the difference is somebody you should never engage with.

At their worst, what these films do give you is a face. The film version of Napoleon's great battles might get you hungering for the truth, and when  you do read up on them, you can picture the cavalry, and the uniforms, and the landscape, and the faces, so much easier than you could've otherwise.

History is full of crazy shit happening, but it can always use a bit of embellishment, because nobody cares if you get it totally right anyway.

 

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