Hollywood History

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by stona, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Comments made in a recent thread got me thinking about Hollywood history. Is a good war film just a good war film when there is a tendency for people to interpret their fiction as fact?
    "Objective Burma"(1945) in which Errol Flynn,an Australian who stayed in the U.S.A.during the war, portrayed an American paratrooper operating in Burma caused much offense in the U.K. for it's representation of what was infact largely a commonwealth effort with a huge contribution from India.It was withdrawn and not shown until 1952,with an apology. It even prompted a Times editorial.

    "It is essential both for the enemy and the allies to understand how it came about that the war was won . . . nations should know and appreciate the efforts other countries than their own made to the common cause".

    "U-571"(2000) portrays the capture of an Enigma machine by the U.S.navy from the eponymous U-571. This boat was infact sunk of Ireland by a Sunderland flying boat of 461 Sqn. RAAF. That would be the Australians.
    H.M.S. Bulldog captured a machine from U-110 on 9 May 1941,before the U.S.navy was officially in the war.
    I have overlooked the Polish contribution,They captured an early enigma machine in 1928 and passed there data to the British/French in 1939.
    Even a great film like "Saving Private Ryan" seems to ignore the fact that the majority of troops who landed on D-Day were not American. This is to take nothing away from the huge sacrifice made by the U.S. troops on Omaha beach,neither am I demeaning their efforts elsewhere.
    It's just that the films are made with U.S. money in the States and largely for an American audience. This has been the case for the last seventy years. the real casualty is the truth.
    My youngest daughter is a secondary school teacher (11-17 year olds).On my behalf she asked two of her classes three simple questions on WWII. Not one of them knew either the dates of the war as a whole or D-Day. One had heard of El Alamein,why? Because he had seen a film!
    Steve
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Sadly, most of Hollywood takes a creative license with film making. They also play to the lowest common denominator. There are some exceptions, like the Band of Brothers series that was on HBO.

    Anyone with an interest in history on it's truest level will roll their eyes at films like U571 and Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, most people are ignorant about history and will take a film as historical fact. It's too bad that Hollywood can't take some of those films and include a disclaimer that a majority of this film is historical fiction.
     
  3. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    In "Saving Private Ryan"'s defense, I don't think that it ignored the fact that other nationalities were present at Normandy. It was simply focused on following Tom Hank's character, who landed on Omaha beach, an American beach. I guess they could have had them run into some British paratroopers further inland, or a Canadian tank crew, but that, IMO, wouldn't have helped to further the storyline any. Otherwise, I agree with you. Very rarely does Hollywood get anything right.

    And I hate hearing the Normandy invasion referred to as just "D-Day"! There were thousands of D-Days and H-Hours during the war!
     
  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Hollywood sometimes takes a very liberal license when portraying historical events.

    I love "Zulu" but as I researched the history I found that many of the events in the film were not accurate, such as Pastor Witt was not a drunkard and thrown off the compound (in fact he was one of the first to sight the zulus) as depicted in the film.

    But at the same time - as the one kid who had heard of "El Alamein" - movies at least bring some historical interest to the masses, i.e. the frenzy around "Titanic" several years ago. Titanic merchandise and interest went through the roof!
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    While I agree 100% that Hollywood ruins historical films with movies such as Pearl Harbor or U-571. They do tend to "over Americanize" war films and all, but lets be honest. What country does not do this?

    I am sure that most British movies about WW2 deal mostly with British or Commonwealth Soldiers and exclude American or Russian soldiers. Why is this? Because the movies cater to the host nation. Who is going to watch the majority of these movies in England? The British. Who is going to watch the majority of the movies that are made in the US? Americans.

    It just happens that Hollywood is the largest of the film makers, and the movies are seen all over the world.

    I do hear what you are saying though and can agree to a point.
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I know what you mean about D-Day,but thought there was more chance of that ringing a bell than Overlord. With hindsight it wouldn't have made any difference.
    British films of the time and later concentrated on British subject matter. "Reach for the sky", "Dambusters", "Ice cold in Alex" and the like. Then again these films featured British/Commonwealth campaigns. Polish airmen certainly feature in "Battle of Britain" and quite rightly too.I seem to remember at least one American character too.
    Errol Fynn in Burma was understandably offensive to many British people at that time. A typical brigade that forced the Japanese back through Burma was made up of two Indian regiments and one British county regiment. Of course there were others involved, but not many Australo-Americans like Flynn!
    Neither is Hollywood always guilty,"The longest day" must rank as a good effort.
    The problem is that the Hollywood studios produce films for a worldwide audience and must bear some responsibility for the dissemination of historical myths. I accept that it is hardly their fault that the audience interprets their works of fiction as historical fact. I'm sure some watched "One million years B.C." and believe that scantily clad women actually fought dinosaurs at the date given! Mind you if they all looked like Raquel Welch.......we can dream.
    Steve
     
  7. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    It all comes down to money.

    Hollywood is going to make its films to appeal to who is going to give them the most money. That is the United States, no matter which way you look at it.

    Unfortunately not everyone is a history buff and knows how to tell the difference between Hollywood and what really happened. There are plenty of people that actually think the United States won WW1 all by themselves, and made the largest contribution to the war...;)
     
  8. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Not bad but please tell me where the Canadian was ditto for the Dambusters , I don't believe the BoB even had a Kiwi who were second only to the Poles in their contribution. IMHO Brit films are worse then American the Americans at least represent Canadians such as in Corvette K225 ,Captains of the Clouds or the Devils Brigade
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #9 stona, Feb 3, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2010
    You can't have everyone in a movie and I'm not suggesting that you can. It is made quite clear in the Battle of Britain movie that airmen of many nationalities were taking part. There were 127 New Zealanders flying alongside well over 2000 British pilots. There were just over 100 Canadians.There were men of at least fourteen nationalities flying,you can't represent them all literally!
    As for the dambusters I confess I haven't seen it for a long time but the crews as I remember pretty much represented the make up of bomber command at the time with men from the "old" Commonwealth represented. 30 Canadians flew on operation "Chastise" which is close (percentage wise) to the proportion flying with bomber command at that time,about one in five or six
    Steve
     
  10. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    #10 pbfoot, Feb 3, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2010
    Whats the difference from you complaining about lack of Brits in American movies
     
  11. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed with all. WW2 can be just too big of a story to be able to be told effectively in a movie that is only a few hours long. I think some of the best movies have been about a relatively small group of men, that are taking part in a small part of the war. Saving Private Ryan, Band Of Brothers, etc. i think some of the larger movies with large casts, you do not get the drama involved when you become attached to character, once you learn their stories.
     
  12. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    The Way To The Stars is a good film with international balance if you've never seen it. It follows, unusually, a bomber station in England that hosts a Bomber Command squadron initially that is replaced later in the war by an 8th Air Force squadron and is very moving.

    633 Squadron also shows a Sikh pilot and an Aussie as I remember, and Mike Baldwin crashes into a hillside during training :)

    I also remember a Cagney film where he ferries a Hudson (I THINK) across the atlantic. Can anyone tell me its title and is it out on R2 DVD?
     
  13. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Captains of the Clouds probably the only movie with Fairey Battles all sorts available on ebay
     
  14. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Thanks, I'm off shopping :)

    I do love my Cagney films
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't trying to split hairs about who is or isn't in a movie. I was making a broader observation about historical accuracy and the promulgation of myths about the war.I would refer you back to that editorial from "The Times".
    Portraying the capture of an enigma machine by the U.S.N. from a boat sunk by an Australian aircrew and at a date before the attack on Pearl Harbour is just an illustration of the sort of thing I mean. I saw an interview with one of H.M.S.Bulldog's officers,I remember the name Walker but I'm not sure. The Captain,Baker-Creswell, died in 1997 so it wasn't him. This man was somewhat offended by the re-writing of history and that matters.
    There is a first hand account of the capture here.
    BBC - WW2 People's War - Capture of the Enigma Machine
    Steve
     
  16. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    I have to disagree with you Chris. ;) If Hollywood were to make movies where they'd make the most money, they should make them for the rest of the world right? US 300.000.000+ V Europe 731,000,000+ V Asia 3,879,000,000+ etc....;)

    So if they make their movies where they make most of the money, their in deep sh*t...;)

    Just rattling your cage Chris! :D
     
  17. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    You have to understand where I am coming from here. Why would Hollywood make movies in the United States and not make most of the movies involving Americans. People are more likely to watch movies that are more to home.

    For example in Bollywood :lol:, they are going to make movies about Indian Soldiers, not American or Russian Soldiers. That is what the people there want to see.
     
  18. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    #18 Messy1, Feb 4, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2010
    There are several reason Hollywood makes the dumbed down movies they do regarding historical events, and although the movie may be based or inspired by historical events, there generally is little of how things really went down.
    1)Movies are made for a dumbed down audience. Most movie goers are not die hard history buffs like us on here. Most know very little about history in general. Most will know the bigger events of the wars, Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, BoB, etc. so in most movies, there usually is very little realistic action or story telling happening. Most movie goers are wanting or expecting the kind of action movies they have become accustomed to the last 20 years or so, the Stallone or Arnold movies where everything blows up, and one man can take on a whole army.
    2) Lack of talented story tellers, directors, or script writers. There are way too few film makers such as Speilberg who are willing to tell the actual tale, and leave in all the grisly details. Few are willing to take years honing and refining their script and story, people who are more committed to telling how things actually happened, or telling a story realistically, than the average director looking to make a huge blockbuster movie.
    3)Too many studios are just looking to make a buck by putting out or mass producing as many movies as they can to make a buck. and the easiest way too appeal to the masses is to make a movie with over the top action and explosions, and speical effects, regardless of historical facts. As George Lucas said one time, Special Effects with out a story makes for a boring movie. (Although he seemed to have forgotten about that lately himself) This really goes along with my first point.
     
  19. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    True and I know what you're coming from Chris....
    I just think that, for once, that Hollywood shoulnd't make a war movie that appeal, enough of war movies that appeal to people, no matter where they are, I'm up to here *-* with appealing war movies a' la Pearl Harbor and the likes, war is not appealing! I think that today, we have that much information about WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam etc., to know how to make them accurate and nothing of that wet-slippery-lovey dovey-tongue wrestling-getting lost in your oh so beautiful d*mn eyes-hand holding-walking down moonlit bl**dy beach-happy blasted forever f*cking after-three bedroom house in the suburbs with 1,45 children and fr*cking dog b*ll*cks that Hollywood keep showing down our throats!

    Whooops! :oops: Just want to make sure that you know that I'm not going at you Chris, just Hollwyood, ok mate? :D :lol:
     
  20. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    There are many faults in Hollywood war movies although a few are reasonably accurate. Among other things the inaccuracies of equipment used are what really gets me upset. A good example is in
    "Saving Private Ryan" when the P51s come in at the last to bomb the German tanks. As far as I know P51s were not used air to ground at that point in the war. An even more egregious example is in "Midway" with Charlton Heston, most of the aircraft shots are with models and the US dive bomber shots are invariably SB2Us which were in the battle but played a minor role. If models are used, why not use a model of the SBD which did all of the damage? There is a combat film shot which crops up almost always in documentaries which depict the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, showing dive bombers nosing over to begin a dive and it is clear that the planes are SBDs, not Vals or even Kates. SBDs bombing our ships at Pearl Harbor? A very good and fairly accurate WW2 movie is "Task Force" with Gary Cooper. If you want to see Midway done pretty well, see it.
     
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