Ethical responsibilites - real historical events?



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  • Ethical responsibilites - real historical events?

    I have my opinion. What are yours?
    For example apparently the Brits are angry about the Sub movie having an American nab the Enigma machine. When the Brits were the ones who did that and broke the code. I don't blame them.

    Where do you think the line is in interpreting history and distorting it?


  • #2
    The only line Hollywood cares about is the one at the box office.

    Personally, I would try to stick pretty closely to historical truth as long as the facts make for a damn good story. If not, you have a tough choice -- either don't write it or change it. If you're talking about facts that will be unknown to most of the viewers, I don't think it's a terrible crime to change them. What bugs me is when things are distorted and it doesn't add anything to the story. If just comes off like they didn't do any research.

    Interesting example is "Boys Don't Cry." There was another murder victim in the real story. A disabled black man who happened to be in the house and was gunned down. I guess the film makers felt it would take too much time to set up who he was and why he was there, but imagine how his family must have felt when that film came out. Personally, I don't know what could make your villians seem more henious than shooting a one-legged black guy in cold blood but I guess they didn't see it that way.


    • #3
      I think the line is drawn within the intent of the film, and the subject matter. Do historical inaccuracies bug me in Young Guns? No, since it's an action based on the myth of the gunslinger.

      But if someone's doing a flick about Poe, and leaves out his addiction problems, and the strange circumstances relating to his one true love, I'll grimace. If someone makes a movie about Edward Gorey and has him being a hip young ladies' man slurping laudenum, I'll scream.

      Good solid question, Lilybet.


      • #4
        Re: The Enigma Machine

        Let me see if I can set the record straight. The Germans used two types of engima machines. Early during the war they used a six wheel enigma. Later an improvement was made on the machine by adding a seventh wheel.

        If the Brits are upset it would be to no avail, since engima machines were captured by Russians, and other allies. In fact the machine was not nearly as important as the encryption method of decipering the code and letter sequencing that the British did discover with the help of American mathmeticians. In other words it was an allied victory.

        reference the "Discovery Channel"


        • #5
          Re: The Enigma Machine

          Wow! I'm impressed. So why are the Brits upset? So, how many enigma machines were liberated by the Allies and did the Americans get one?



          • #6

            The 1952 British movie "Breaking the Sound Barrier" led most of England (and much of America) to believe that the British were the first to go faster than sound (which, of course they were not). Payback ya limeys.

            But this is a good question. Hollywood and history just don't mix.

            One of the paradoxes of the Hollywood historical film is that they ignore the usually more interesting real story to bring us a Hollywood cardboard character politically correct version.

            One of my bigger pet peeves.


            • #7
              change your handle to Lily Langtree

              Lil' I don't know how I missed that part, I think I was in the kitchen fixing a banana peanut butter sandwich. Next time they show the program I'll take note.

              The British are okay but their so dang smug and proper.

              But what the hell if they have another war and need my help...what the hey! I'll give them a hand.

              Bye Lily Langtree (it has much more flare)


              • #8
                who done it

                I believe I read the screenwriter's interview about this movie, and he said that he had combined several different events into one story, the point of which was the to show the heroism and devotion to duty that it took for men to go to sea in a submarine. Submarines leaked a lot. When the depth charges arrive, there's no place to go. It was not meant to be a documentary on the capture of the Enigma. It probably would have been better to make the movie about a British sub for the sake of correctness, but I think the writer's motives were honest. Anyway, it was one hell of a movie. My favourite so far this summer.

                ***** added info *****
                The article to which I referred above is in the current issue of Fade In: magazine. Not an interview. Writer/Director Jonathan Mostow describes the making of the film in this article, written during post production, so it is not a defensive piece. You can read it at:


                (Click the "On Location" button)


                By the way, "Gone in 60 Seconds" was a much better story than I was led to believe. Got nothing to do with this thread, but why start another one? (Or did the French invent car stealing?)

                Bill M.


                • #9
                  darn smug!


                  Ethical responsilities for history is a pet peeve (alongside continuity) for me. But there are a number of perspective issues about U-571 that should be mentioned, and I don't want to appear a smug Brit.

                  Bill was right in qouting the writer. It is a sub movie- nowhere near the class of Das Boot- and not about the enigma code.

                  Also, citing programs from the Discovery Channel as proof evidence is as good as taking the film itself as gospel truth. The writers of a documentary or a movie still have limitations. I have worked on a few Discovery programs and know that the tip of the iceberg is the result seen by the viewers, regardless of the research input. The program has a time limit. The viewer has an interest limit.

                  In regards to the Enigma machine, it was an allied effort. Just before the war started a german took one to Finland to sell but couldn't find a buyer- noone wanted it! A number of machines were captured, but the code book was the important part as it was used to set the machine before recieiving code and this was printed with water soluble ink- only one was ever captured when the operator was ordered to abondon sub because it was sinking- then it didn't sink. Just kinda bobbed there with the Allies rubbing their hands in glee (note: Allies, I'm trying not to be smug). After the war every piece of related paper was destroyed, it took thirty years before the crackers could legally discuss what they did and by then many had died.

                  So whilst the Brits are niggling (the film was released on the heels of a four hour documentary about breaking the enigma) has anyone checked the german film sites?

                  Well, back to dissecting more historical movies... next on the list is the forthcoming movie about Lucretia Borgia. Now THERE is a film that is going to be wildly innacurate!!



                  • #10
                    Re: darn smug!

                    "Lucretia"? Grrrrrrrreat. It'll probably have a soundtrack by the Sisters of Mercy...


                    • #11
                      the line

                      A film called "They Died With Their Boots On" ,starring Errol Flynn, is a wonderfully rousing version of the life of Geroge Custer. It is also one of the most fictitious pieces of work to ever hit the screen.

                      You can take some liberties ('creative license' ) but you shouldn't just make stuff up.


                      • #12
                        Creative License

                        I didn't see anyone complain after Tom Hanks HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon" showed Neil Armstrong shoving Buzz Aldrin out of the way so that he could be the first on the moon. "Move it, you rat bastard!" Hey, that was good drama.

                        And when "Star Wars: The Special Version We Added Five Minutes To" came out, and Greedo tried to shoot Han first, well, we know how it really happened, so we didn't care much then, either.

                        But I draw the line at Oliver Stone's "JFK", which completely misled the public into thinking that Ross Perot was never in the book depository that day. I don't think I can ever trust Stone after that.

                        Your pal,


                        • #13
                          Braveheart History

                          How about Mel Gibson playing William Wallace? Talk about distortion: Wallace was famous for his gargantuan size and brutality. In fact, his sword (not a two-handed) that's kept in a shrine in Scotland is longer than Mel is tall.


                          • #14
                            Re: Braveheart History

                            in addition, some sources state that the scabbard of the sword was composed of human skin. But I can see reasons for omitting that from the movie.


                            • #15

                              Hmm, one part of Braveheart that was accurate was his habit of returning tax collectors or bailiffs to England in chunks. It was almost a trade mark for him.

                              The English disliked Wallace so much they actually created hanging, drawing and quartering just for him, ready for when they captured him.

                              Apart from that we have inaccurate timelines, a complete disregard for the Peace of Arbroth, underplaying the role of Bruce & Black Douglas in Scotland's independance, and the historical fact that Scotland often fielded more armour on their soldiers than the English because their allies, the french, supplied boat loads of armour and weapons in the hope England would be too weak to atack them. The English soldiery who fought Scotland had decades of practise against Wales and France and did not just 'ran at each other shouting'.

                              I'm getting a stress headache now and will go somewhere dark to lie down... lol

                              See ya there, Crowfeeder