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War Panda30 May 2018 7:38 a.m. PST

Does Hollywood have a responsibility to authenticity when their subject is history? Anthony Beevor seems to think so.


Dynaman878930 May 2018 8:05 a.m. PST

Good for him. Too bad he is wrong. If he were correct "300" would not exist.

Huscarle30 May 2018 8:16 a.m. PST

Actually, I agree with Antony on this. Too many peeps believe what the movies show, and Hollywood is guilty of a lot of trash including "300" which I wish didn't exist.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 8:24 a.m. PST

Anyone believing any movie is a two hour history lesson, deserves what they get.

I can watch " The Patriot" and be be more or less entertained but if you think this is the AWI there's no hope for you.

Texas Jack30 May 2018 8:50 a.m. PST

Very fun article, thanks for the link War Panda!

"For a long time now, my wife has refused to watch a war movie with me."
I think any one of us who is, or has been married can say the same thing. grin

I am glad he was gentle with the post war British cinema. I know those films are stuffed with good British stiff upper lip patriotism, but I think thatīs why I love them. They are so black and white and so British.

Recently I was watching a German film on Netflix, My Honor Was Loyalty, about a platoon of SS (how did that go over in Germany I wonder). After an hour I finally was beginning to feel just the slightest beginning of some sort of sympathy to the plight of the SS boys, when this appeared before my eyes: "Normandy, 1943". Really. I switched it off, or closed the tab, or whatever you do to something crappy on Netflix.

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 9:39 a.m. PST

"Does Hollywood have a responsibility to authenticity when their subject is history? "

Umm, no. They just want to make a profit. They will take whatever "artistic liberties" they want if they think it helps sell the film.

Personal logo Aurochs Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 9:40 a.m. PST

I guess that "My Honor is my Loyality" is an Italian production.

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 9:47 a.m. PST

"And the fact that most colonists actually sided with King George is airily forgotten"

Talk about playing fast and loose with the facts. The author lost his credibility with that statement.

Oberlindes Sol LIC30 May 2018 9:49 a.m. PST

"For a long time now, my wife has refused to watch a war movie with me."
I think any one of us who is, or has been married can say the same thing.

I am blessed with a wife who loves history as much as I do, and who will happily watch a war movie that makes a good faith effort to tell an accurate story. She likes documentaries better, of course, but she watched and enjoyed Black Hawk Down and The Long Road Home, for example.

Her criticism of the latter was that the soldiers were all too nice.

One of my gaming friends is similarly blessed, but he may be the only one.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 9:56 a.m. PST

No, they do not.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP30 May 2018 10:02 a.m. PST

No, not the "only one."

My dear Olga loves a good war film at least as much as I do, and knows enough history to recognize serious gaffs.

Raised on Soviet propaganda, she was used to seeing war films made over there (and some I've seen with her aren't half bad), But like most former prisoners of the "Socialist Paradise," she KNEW it was "propaganda," and so prefers the mostly post-Soviet war films.

However, her favorite diet is the British and US war films from those during the war to the most recent. Mind, she is a delicate flower when it comes to prolonged filmic tension and suspense. So far, she has shied away from "Black Hawk Down," and some others simply because they drive her "goluppi" (my spelling--not hers!).

Oh, and I think that Hollywood at least should try to keep a better balance between historical accuracy and the legitimate value of making accommodations for the sake of the story.


Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 10:17 a.m. PST

Other way around. It is the responsibility of the audience to remember that Hollywood is in the entertainment (and sometimes propaganda, especially for war films) business.

Texas Jack30 May 2018 10:28 a.m. PST

@ Aurochs
Right you are, my mistake. I saw it in German and just assumed, which is often not a good thing!

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 1:08 p.m. PST

@ USAF pilot
I agree that It is definitely incorrect to state the majority of the American colonists stayed loyal to the Crown. It was only about 20 per cent of the White colonists though numbers would fluctuate according to how the war was progressing.

It is fair to say a majority were loyal or indifferent though. The article may have been closer to the truth to write, " the patriots were in a minority right up to the war's end." I think pretending a virtual majority were patriots suits the American audience's preconceptions even if it contradicts the facts. We of course, know better.

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 1:39 p.m. PST

I don't disagree with any of your comments. My issue was clearly with the word "most".

Former President Jimmy Carter wrote a very good novel about the AWI. Although a work of fiction, one of the points he makes in the book is that about a third of the population was for the Revolution and about a third was loyal to the Crown. A third was neutral, or going which ever way the wind was blowing. In a sense the AWI was a civil war.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 1:42 p.m. PST

Reliable sources say the numbers fluctuated.
The best estimates are patriots 40-55 pc, Loyalists 15-25 pc and indifferent 30-45 pic .
This indicates that the majority for much of the time was not patriots.

I would suggest the violence visited on the loyalists and indifferent and the threat of more may well have boosted numbers in the militia.

Movies such as Gibson's The Patriot have a vested interest in obfuscating history.

jdginaz30 May 2018 1:46 p.m. PST

AWI. Although a work of fiction, one of the points he makes in the book is that about a third of the population was for the Revolution and about a third was loyal to the Crown. A third was neutral, or going which ever way the wind was blowing.

Those numbers are based on a letter written by John Adams. The p shot is that in reality it was in relation to American's support for the French revolution not the War of Independence.

"I should say that full one third were averse to the revolution…. An opposite third… gave themselves up to an enthusiastic gratitude to France. The middle third,… always averse to war, were rather lukewarm both to England and France;…."

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 1:46 p.m. PST

@ USAF pilot
I didn't think we were in disagreement.

I personally think that the truth of a minority fighting, successfully, for independence is more heroic

Not only did they need to fight against a formidable world power, they had to face down a sizeable opposition.

I think we'd agree that truthful history is often more inspiring than the pap found in movies.

jdginaz30 May 2018 1:49 p.m. PST

Here are some more authoritative numbers from the "Journal of the American Revolution.

"But you can still draw some conclusions through a review of period records and the application of statistical analysis, ratios, and other mathematics that I failed in high school. Historian Thomas Fleming offers that there may have been 75,000 to 100,000 Loyalists in America during the Revolution and that 60,000 to 80,000 fled after the war. In a thorough 1968 study, historian Paul H. Smith estimated that Loyalists comprised about 16% of America's total population and a precise 19.8% of free citizens. And historian Robert Calhoon wrote that probably 15 to 20% of adult white males remained loyal to Britain, and that 40 to 45% of the free population, "at most no more than a bare majority" actively supported the Patriots."

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 1:49 p.m. PST

@ jdginaz
My understanding is the numbers are based on a range of sources, including journals, newspaper articles and the like. Sure, they're " guesstimates" but are accepted by a majority of reliable historians.
Your figure of 40-45 pc seems to be a minority to me BTW.
And I passed advanced maths in High School .
However, aren't we getting a little off topic?

brucka30 May 2018 2:18 p.m. PST

My Honor is Loyalty was a Spanish director I believe.
The argument at the end that everyone committed war crimes and the poor SS were picked on because the victors always write history. Poor surrendering SS were portrayed as always being shot by US infantry – even in 1943 Normandy.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 2:32 p.m. PST

Back on topic. "Hollywood"--or anyone else producing movies and television shows--is in the entertainment business. If it's billed as a documentary, you have a right to expect accuracy. Otherwise, just be grateful when you get it. I am sometimes surprised at the unnecessary inaccuracies, though.

Off topic again. Back at the dawn of time, I actually started a study of Tory officers. I have never since believed in a serious loyalist faction as such. There were a handful of government employees, tea merchants and SPG ministers. Almost everyone else was a reflection of an existing political split in a colony: the greater the pre-1775 factionalism, the greater the "Loyalist" population. If the Clintons, Livingstons and deWitts were in power, then the deLanceys were Tories.

As for the numbers moving to Canada--well, they were moving into Canada at a fair clip before the Revolution, too. Now, the British were offering free land, seed and tools. If you served in both armies--and some did--the British paid off in 1783. Land promised by the Continental Congress didn't come until about 1794. And no one mentions uprisings in the Maritime Provinces in support of the American Revolution. Not a part of their history Canadians would care to stress.

History tends to be a bit more complicated than you can do in a two hour movie.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 2:46 p.m. PST

Hollywood has no obligation to teach us history lessons. If you want to send a message use the Telegraph (maybe Facebook today). Do people who want to write books need to write factual books or can't they write fantasy or fictional books. if you don't want to read, there's plenty of pretty good documentaries on television. I would prefer to read a book 1st, and then watch the TV version of the events. Maybe then watch the movie, but I do get distracted when there is not only deviation from the truth but bad equipment and uniforms . I guess you have to be a military hobbyist to know those things.

My wife enjoys some movies. we saw Black Hawk down together, she watched band of brothers at least three times so she knew all the characters and the actors my name.

All the commentary about the numbers of people on each side of the American war for independence always leave out the slaves, Who would've been freer sooner under the crown. And the original inhabitants who would probably have kept their land longer under the crown. So I guess we are just talking about Free, recently immigrant (in the last 300 years) men.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 6:01 p.m. PST

200 years, Bobgnar. That takes you back before Plymouth Rock and Jamestown. But it would take a pretty sharp crystal ball to look forward from 1775 and say that a British victory would be better for slaves or Amerinds. To that point, HM government had been very protective of the slave trade, and only slowed western migration to move English-descended settlers into their new Canadian and Floridian holdings, where there wouldn't be any of that pesky voting and local assemblies. And of course they'd already taken steps to deal with those annoying newspapers in the colonies.

A certain type of American looks at Canada and sees an alternative to the American Revolution. Canada today is as much a product of Saratoga and Yorktown as is the United States. A British North America in which Howe wrapped things up in 1775 might look unimaginably different--and not in ways any of us here would care for.

wrgmr130 May 2018 6:43 p.m. PST

Black Hawk Down according to my memory from the book, was a pretty accurate portrayal. An unusual occurrence from Hollywood.
Band of Brothers and The Pacific were pretty good as well. Not perfect, but close, which is good enough for me.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 8:37 p.m. PST

I've found most war films to be entertaining but I have to very firmly switch off my critical eye.

I can mostly overlook using the wrong equipment like tanks, 50's era Pattons or Chaffee's or Bulldogs stood in for pretty much everything. All medieval films used late era armour and let's not get started on the Romans. But I'd like a smidge more historical veracity (I say looking at a submarine and an enigma machine) in the story line. The best to date in that has probably been "A Bridge Too Far".

brucka30 May 2018 10:25 p.m. PST

Bridge Too Far used Leopards I believe – Tank crossing Arnhem Bridge. Just sayin'. British stuff was pretty good though.

Winston Smith30 May 2018 10:49 p.m. PST

If anyone truly believes that you can expect or demand historical accuracy from a product whose sole purpose is to get 22 year old guys laid with their girlfriends after dragging her to see a war movie, I sincerely hope that person doesn't vote. Or reproduce.

Old Wolfman31 May 2018 6:51 a.m. PST

I remember me and my wife watched "We Were Soldiers" together one afternoon on the cable.

jdginaz31 May 2018 4:46 p.m. PST

@ochoin Maybe you should stop your math calculations and re-read that last sentence. The 40-45 percent is his estimation of the loyalists. The other twos estimations are much lower.

jocknroll Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2018 4:55 a.m. PST

Some significant changes in our operations and new release schedule here:


dapeters04 Jun 2018 11:52 a.m. PST

Newspapers and TV news makes money by selling their "stories" , they may speculate without facts but they need to stick to actual facts, or folks will not take them seriously (fox or CNN anyone.) But the entertainment industry is not beholding to even notion of fact (history channel)

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