Sunday, October 19, 2008

Movies Teaching History.

Some people believe that movies are historically accurate. Yahoo movies just did an article about the inaccuracies found in several biographical movies. You can read it here. I know someone who believed Billy The Kid was not killed by Pat Garrett because of the Young Guns movie. Some things get changed for dramatic effect. Things also get condensed because they simply don't have the time to tell it exactly. I don't mind small changes, as long as they don't totally distort history. I enjoy researching things so I will use a movie as a starting point for examining something closer. I don't tear apart a movie because a few small errors.

Gettysburg is my second favorite movie of all time. There a few minor things they missed or adjusted but on the main points they got it right. I know someone who hates this movie because it shows Robert E. Lee apologizing for the defeat. He claims Lee would never have done that. Lee may not or may not have apologized there, but he did offer his resignation to Jefferson Davis because of the defeat, so I don't see any problem. After Lewis Armistead was shot he was told Winfield Scott Hancock had also been wounded. That was done for dramatic effect because the front line soldiers would not have known that.

The thing that helps make Gettysburg so great is the battle scenes. They used Civil War re-enactors for those scenes. You get the feeling of what it must have been like to be there. I am a Civil war buff and have always had a hard time picturing the camps, the mens movements and the battles. This movie helped me visualize that. It also inspired me to research the events of those 3 days more. The movie is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. If you are interested in this subject, I strongly recommend both the book and movie. Movies should not be used in place of history books, but they can be an excellent starting point.

1 comment:

Volly said...

Another is the movie musical 1776. Much of the interplay between Franklin, Jefferson and Adams is accurate -- it did happen, but, a decade later, during the Constitutional Convention, not the Congressional sessions leading up the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Ben Franklin being carried about in a sedan chair is one example of this.