DItto--I very much enjoyed the movie. I never go to the movies for accurate history or science. Movies are art and by their nature have a different standard of "truth." Personally, one of the fun things about seeing any historical film, particularly one I enjoyed, is later checking out the history behind the art. I appreciate both in their respective spheres. So my articles on the history behind a movie or TV show are not intended as "critiques" or reviews, but more like the "extras" on a DVD or the history popup feature on the HBO series Rome
Yep. Its entertainment at the end of the day. I've wondered why there's a need to extrapolate on or change things (in the Roman era at least) cos the real deal was dramatic enough.
I do think that if people - kids especially - are inspired by movies like "Gladiator" and *spit* "300" to go and learn more about the real stuff, that's the important thing. I don't go much for angry reviews that point out every historical inaccuracy in a movie (or book for that matter). I think that if you know enough to know that its wrong, why shout about it? Does it make a better or worse movie cos its inaccurate? I don't know that it does.
This is one of the reasons why I enjoyed your essays so much - I think you sum it up brilliantly here when you say that they're like DVD extras - you're not getting outraged cos the third centurion from the left is wearing the wrong calligae and the film-makers should be crucified for this error that ruined the entire film. Your essays are really informative and point out the facts without getting carried away in righteous fury - clearly, you know your stuff and are kind enough to share that knowledge.
Gladiator is a great example of that. Way off historically, it uses factual elements. Commodus fought in the arena for instance but the movie isn't accurate (he wasn't killed by a general who became a slave, a slave who became a gladiator - he was killed by a professional wrestler. Few emperors died in their beds - fewer by the hand of Brett "Hitman" Heart).
Now, if you don't know a fig about Roman history, is "Gladiator" any less entertaining because it deviates from the facts? I don't think so, because you're none the wiser. If you know enough, then I can't see the point in wailing and gnashing your teeth on amazon.com about it. Its still a great film - its just not a documentary.
Also, I feel that these decisions are made by movie makers for a plethora of reasons - pace, budget, location - even health and safety. For instance, the legionary's in "Centurion" weren't allowed to throw pila
cos the HSE guys said it was too dangerous. I've seen reviews decrying the film-makers for the soldiers "not having the right kit." Look a bit deeper and you find the reasons for this.
So yeah - movies are never going to 100% accurate either in story, kit or whatever...as I say, its for a variety of reasons. As long as it entertains and perhaps inspires then its no foul. Well, most of the time, anyway - playing devils advocate against myself, I do feel that some movies just go too far with bending things but as I say...you can't please all of the people all of the time!