Historical mistakes in books and movies

(112 Posts)
Penelope1980 Tue 25-Sep-12 22:27:52

Hello! I thought this would be a good place to ask you what your top pet peeves are in historical books and movies as, as history lover, it is something which interests me. Do you mind when things aren't right? Or does it make you seethe? What specifically do you hate the most? Are you ever forgiving of mistakes, modern language, modern haircuts etc? Or, are you usually so busy enjoying the book or movie to notice?

I find I don't mind a good historical bodice-ripper as can usually get carried away in the story, or most movies set in the past, but am really intolerant of the following:

- when a true historical character is painted a villain when there is no proof that they were. Case that springs to mind is Murdoch in the movie Titanic, who is painted a bad guy with no real proof that he was.

- When in books set hundred of years ago all the 'good' characters have modern values (especially regarding gender, race and class) and the 'bad' characters have the values of the time. I find this presentism irritating, and a bit condescending.

Interested in your thoughts ...

LineRunner Tue 25-Sep-12 22:32:15

I find many depictions of Jesus pretty daft, all wafting blue-eyed pretty boys with Daz washed kaftans.

Graham Chapman's Brian was more authentic.

bureni Tue 25-Sep-12 22:36:59

In the original Titanic film "A night to Remember" the opening scene shows the Titanic being launched and christened in Belfast, no ships were ever christened by Harland an Wolff shipyard.

BestIsWest Sun 30-Sep-12 00:43:31

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet has peasants grinding up horse chestnuts for flour during the 13th Century. According to Earthly Joys by Philippa Gregory
horse chestnuts were introduced to Britain by John Tradescant during the rule of Charles I.

Now one of them must be wrong. I read them one after the other and haven't read a historical novel since because I can't trust them.

SummerRain Sun 30-Sep-12 00:49:38

Professor Google says Ken Follet is wrong on that one BestIsWest (I still love that book though!)

Sweet Chestnuts however were introduced by the Romans.... did he specify which type of chestnut? I can't remember

imperialstateknickers Sun 30-Sep-12 00:52:47

I'd go with Philippa Gregory rather than Ken Follett. Sweet Chestnuts were introduced by the Romans, Horse Chestnuts were introduced (for their flowers/foliage) by Tradescant.

Ken's good but he does bog up sometimes, and also has characters with modern political sensibilities but wearing wimples far too often.

imperialstateknickers Sun 30-Sep-12 00:58:55

Going back to the original post... it depends on how good the book/film/tv series is. 'Rome' was historically tosh, although there were odd bits of extreme accuracy - beyond the needs of the story. But it was so hugely entertaining we watched it with joy. 'The Tudors' out of the same stable wound me up too much though.
I was reading something the other day, when a massive, fundamental anachronism made me lurch. Will remember what it was (probably in the middle of the night) and post it. It really damaged the experience for me - a shame, as I'd been thoroughly enjoying it.

BestIsWest Sun 30-Sep-12 00:58:56

I'm pretty sure it was Horse chestnuts but I could be wrong! It was a few years ago. Can you recommend me any historical novels I can trust?

I used to be a florist, and get very p**sed off when historical dramas use flowers that weren't even around during the film period. Grr.

Penelope1980 Sun 30-Sep-12 05:25:33

It's hard to know what you can trust as one small mistake just leaves me wondering what else I have missed. Although, as imperial says, if what I'm watching is good enough, I can forgive it.

line your post reminds me of a racist fundamentalist I knew once who used to get really worked up at the suggestion Jesus may have been dark, or at least olive skinned.

My best friend is an expert on historical dresses, and after listening to years of talk lectures about the subject notice now the over-use of crinolines in historical fiction considering they weren't worn for all that long

notcitrus Sun 30-Sep-12 05:29:23

My mother is a historian of the Victorian/Edwardian period. Her pet peeve is the lack of authentic table manners on TV/in films, and now I notice that too.

SummerRain Sun 30-Sep-12 10:43:25

BIW .. Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle is good if you like science/maths. His interpretation of historical figures uses a lot of dramatic licence but in terms of giving you a feel for the culture and knowledge of the time I really enjoyed them.

TunipTheVegemal Sun 30-Sep-12 11:14:59

Costume mistakes bug me because I used to be a re-enactor and they are always exceedingly picky about clothes. One pet peeve is lace in medieval historical novels (the word 'lace' was used but it meant silk cord rather than white frothy stuff). I have noticed the crinoline thing too.

The way on films and tv, the good male characters are clean shaven while the baddies have authentic facial hair for the period.

nickeldaisical Mon 01-Oct-12 12:47:59

oh, yes, facial hair makes me laugh - considering there are several periods of history where a man wasn't a gentleman without his moustache, there are very few TV shows/films where they have them/
<struggling to think of examples because it's monday morning and i have no brain>

nickeldaisical Mon 01-Oct-12 12:51:26

there we go, from the late 19th century up to 1916, men in the army had to have a moustache.
before the Crimea, it was a novelty to have a beard.

nickeldaisical Mon 01-Oct-12 12:54:44

"In the Middle Ages, a beard displayed a knight's virility and honour. The Castilian knight El Cid is described in The Lay of the Cid as "the one with the flowery beard". Holding somebody else's beard was a serious offence that had to be righted in a duel.

While most noblemen and knights were bearded, the Catholic clergy were generally required to be clean-shaven. This was understood as a symbol of their celibacy."
i just found this on wikipedia (and yes, i'm sorry for quoting wiki, but it made me grin)

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 01-Oct-12 12:56:05

The whole film of Robin Hood with Russell Crowe in it.

Landing craft? In the 11th century?

SummerRain Mon 01-Oct-12 15:22:21

Not to mention them riding fron Nottingham to the south east coast in time to stop the landing party hmm in reality a whole section of the country would have even invaded before they even got the message about the ships!

Dp got very annoyed at ne during that movie. I ranted. A lot blush

nickeldaisical Mon 01-Oct-12 16:00:35

that happened in Kevin Costner's Robin Hood too, though - they landed on the south coast and made it to Nottingham, on foot, within 2 days. No way.

nickeldaisical Mon 01-Oct-12 16:02:43

180 miles at 5mph, would take 36 hours non-stop.
(ie no one could walk that far, that fast)

CMOTDibbler Mon 01-Oct-12 16:13:36

There are lots of things tbh. I'm forgiving of entertainment being inaccurate, but by things like living history places I'm incandescant. Especially on the subject of animals that are totally out of period - which is awful, but I can't help myself

JumpingJetFlash Mon 01-Oct-12 16:34:56

Not only that but in Kevin Costner's Robin Hood he lands in Dover and the is clambering about in Hadrians Wall before making it to Nottingham - he may have overshot by a hundred + miles!

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 01-Oct-12 16:51:24

Yes they go via Hadrian's Wall - that part drives me mad!

I find it annoying when they make a film set in a certain period, and the musical backdrop is a piece that hasn't been written yet - really sets my teeth on edge. And it is just lazy, it really isn't hard to prevent that happening.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 02-Oct-12 10:16:28

Morgan Freeman performing a cesarean in Robin Hood POT. hmm
Also, when Kevin Costner shoots the arrow, and the camera goes with it, the arrow doesn't spin.

nickeldaisical Tue 02-Oct-12 10:32:19

Jumping - yes, he did! i'd forgotten that bit <too traumatic>

I would be really unhappy with a film/book that had nothing for me to nit-pick about, though, wouldn't you?! grin

What I find most annoying is the patronizing kind of mistakes - writers who think all medieval people are idiots/don't bother to learn about religion pre. 1960 and consequently have no fucking clue.

And people who go with Ladybird-book stereotypes 'back in the day, no-one could read' crap.

I was watching A Man For All Seasons and it struck me as remarkably unlikely that Thomas More's wife actually couldn't read. If anyone knows one way or the other, I'd like to know.

I'm also not wild about the Jean Auel style of writing, where you excuse the fact that no-one in the society (AFAWK) had a clue about such-and-such, but you create Amazing Wise Character X, who brings with him/her profound knowledge from the future.

Penelope1980 Mon 08-Oct-12 20:02:50

no-one in the society (AFAWK) had a clue about such-and-such, but you create Amazing Wise Character X, who brings with him/her profound knowledge from the future

Agreed - I hate that more than anything. It's so patronising. Especially when it's ideas that didn't exist yet.

nickeldaisical Tue 09-Oct-12 12:53:06

yes, I saw something last week that said that in the mediaeval period, more women could read and write than men, even working class, and they all passed their skills on to the children.
and that a lot of them used their skills to interpret the bible, so were very knowledgeable wrt religion.

Ooh, can I pester you for the reference for that?

throckenholt Tue 09-Oct-12 13:04:20

Not a movie, but Andrew Marr's history thing on TV - we gritted our teeth and sat through the first one but found it really irritating. Over dramatised (what was that rubbish about crossing that stone bridge thing in the out of Africa bit ?!).

I thought the whole program was riddled with inaccuracies and misunderstandings. Grrr.

nickeldaisical Tue 09-Oct-12 13:13:53

i don't know - it might have been Bettany Hughes, but i can't remember!

Ah, no worries, will have a browse at BH. Thank you!

LaQueen Tue 09-Oct-12 20:50:04

To be fair, I think Morgan Freeman performs an episiostomy on the woman in labour, not a c-section.

TunipTheVegemal Tue 09-Oct-12 20:53:48

Throckenholt, the bit that annoyed me in the Andrew Marr thing was Ancient Woman giving birth on her back.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 09-Oct-12 21:46:56

I watched RHPOT the other day. Morgan Freeman says that her baby hasn turned, and can't be born without help. (Transverse lie?) He asks for a needle and thread.
He also says he has only seen it done on horses. It's got go be either a cesarean, or he stuck his hand in and turned the baby manually.

throckenholt Wed 10-Oct-12 07:24:06


there were so many bits like that (I winced at that too) - things for which there was no evidence, and totally over dramatised. Won't be watching any more. Sad though - I expected much better than that.

LaQueen Wed 10-Oct-12 13:45:49

Yep, I think he cut her slightly, so he could get his hand in to turn the baby [ick]

KeithLeMonde Wed 10-Oct-12 13:52:09

Did women in "the old days" shave/pluck the hair from their armpits and have nicely trimmed bikini lines? Or is that Hollywood?

I know there was a fashion around the time of Elizabeth I for shaving the hairline to enhance a high forehead - never seen that replicated in a costume drama.

TunipTheVegemal Wed 10-Oct-12 14:00:48

There is no reason to believe they did.

SummerRain Wed 10-Oct-12 14:08:16

Ancient roman women did I think... I would imagine only the upper class though.

And some Asian cultures did

But for the vast majority of history, no... Women were hairy.

TunipTheVegemal Wed 10-Oct-12 14:09:35

Yes, that's true, Roman men as well as women did a lot of plucking.

SummerRain Wed 10-Oct-12 14:14:50

A quick google adds ancient Greece and Egypt to that list.

nickeldaisical Wed 10-Oct-12 17:19:40

i think in the west, it was (in recent history anyway) only done from the 1920s when flappers wore dresses that were short and showed their armpits.

no need before then, but i bet there were places where it happened - a fetish of the king, like Footbinding in china.

sieglinde Thu 11-Oct-12 15:01:27

I have a particular loathing for historical novels in which witches are burnt or tortured in England. NEITHER happened. Also novels in which real witch names are used and said witch is a Mary Sue of a midwife herbalist, 30 years old and a raving beauty, when Bad Priests come to catch. her. It Never Happened ANYWHERE.

Also hate thick description of bad smells in past....

And food in the past - almost always wrong....

TunipTheVegemal Thu 11-Oct-12 15:06:27

Agree re witches.
I also hate it when the rest of the novel is believable but the witch has actual supernatural powers.

What do you mean by 'thick description of bad smells'?

Yes, I'm with you on the witches. Though, technically witchcraft is a sin against the first commandment IIRC, and the punishment for heresy (which is another form of sin against the first commandment) was burning. So I suppose it's not impossible to imagine a witch being burned.

The pendle witches have the most fantastic names. I can see why they'd want to use those names. Not so much the 'herbal' crap.

I've got to admit, I was disappointed by the Cynthia Harnett book where she makes a year written in Arabic numerals integral to the plot then explains in her postscript that it's impossible as no-one would have used Arabic numerals.

It seems kinda cheeky to excuse your mistake like that.

Btw, I just remembered a goodie. Charles Causley (whom I do love) wrote a poem about Katharine of Aragon in which he claims she died aged 24. He misunderstood her tombstone, which says she was queen for 24 years. Whoops.

SirBoobAlot Thu 11-Oct-12 22:41:06

The entire "Mummy" films. They made me growl a little bit. DP occasionally suggests we watch them just to wind me up.


picnicbasketcase Thu 11-Oct-12 22:44:47

It probably doesn't count and its a shit film anyway, but it pisses me off when they say Cary Grant was from Surrey in The Holiday. I always assumed it was a caesarean in RHPOT, never thought of it being an episiotomy.

LynetteScavo Thu 11-Oct-12 22:52:34

exactly, JumpingJetFlash. Dover to Hadrians wall in just a few hours on foot. Amazing.

In the Sound of Music there is a van with "Israel" on it. Israel wasn't a state at the start of WW2 hmm

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Thu 11-Oct-12 22:57:44

Witches, who could be women, men(warlocks) or children were hanged in this country. I live in witch country, Mistley/Manningtree. Matthew Hopkins lived just down the road. Im witch terms, Manningtree is very famous, which is amusing, considering that most of the witches that Matthew Hopkins arrested, around here, were actually aquitted!

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Thu 11-Oct-12 23:01:05

Although Matthew Hopkins is notorious for torturing witches. He used to walk them for days, deprive them of sleep, and when he had discovered their witches marks, would stab the mark with a retractable pin, to prove that witches marks feel no pain! We have a ducking pond here as well.

joanofarchitrave Thu 11-Oct-12 23:08:29

I've said it before on here, but... hats.

Keira Knightley Women prancing about outside without hats or gloves. In the 19th century.

In the 1930s women were still wearing hats indoors to lunch parties (bizarrely) and to the beach. I believe I'm right in thinking most women wouldn't go out without their hats on in the 19th C.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Thu 11-Oct-12 23:20:42

In the first instance, he would have his victims thrown into a isolated prison cell, stripped naked, beaten, starved and kept from sleep, while using the pain and humiliation psychologically against them. If this didn’t work he would use his more brutal and favoured methods of torture, starting with “Pricking”. Pricking was an excruciatingly painful ordeal to endure and involved the use of evil looking pins, needles and bodkins to pierce the skin looking for insensitive spots that didn’t bleed. If any were found they would then be interpreted as a mark of the Devil . If none were found the victim was made to sit cross-legged on a table or stool, then bound in the posture with cords and left alone for up to 24 hours or until such time as the cramps and pain set in. Naked and bare foot they would then be forced to walk up and down the cold stone floor of the cell without respite until their feet began to blister and bleed.

WofflingOn Fri 12-Oct-12 00:09:05

Llamas in the dreadful film of Troy, the one with Brad in it.

Ken Follett:
Acorns were famine food and often ground up to make flour with. Chestnut flour would be very nutritious, acorns less so.

sieglinde Fri 12-Oct-12 10:21:14

saggy, what's the source of that quotation?

I agree that some of Hopkins' methods AMOUNTED to torture by today's standards, but they weren't regarded as torture by him, but seen instead as a method of empirically proving witchcraft - so paradoxically they were LESS reliant on confession than most other forms of witchy jurisprudence. What never happened was REAL torture, and there were plenty of methods about - the rack, for example, or the suspension by the wrists; both could actually nuke the victim's spine - or the boots, which basically caused compound fracture of the lower legs.

Don't think I'm making light of Hopkins, and his methods WERE seen as tantamount to torture by some of his opponents, but in the context of the brutality of the era it was a. not legally torture and b. relatively moderate.

Why does a. matter? well, it's the case that actual torture - of for instance burglars and Catholics - was incredibly no-holds barred, designed really to maim, if not kill. This was the state's way of laying down a marker on what it valued. Witches were really seen as less of a threat than Catholics or burglars.

I realise these might seem fine distinctions, but I think they are important ones.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Fri 12-Oct-12 11:31:32

Oh gosh, you'll have to bear with me, I'm at work today, I'll fish the source out of the laptop this evening! grin

Not a film but a supposedly factual programme that was running in the background while I painted the bedroom wall last week.

The presenter told the 'true story' of a doomed love affair in the fourteenth century. They both came from noble families, but they were not allowed to marry because his family was Catholic and her's was Protestant

I had to climb down the stepladder in order to rant loudly enough at the telly

True story, my arse.

sieglinde Fri 12-Oct-12 12:08:08

Thanks, Saggy. I'll come back this evening. But I'm guessing it's Anne Barstow?

Acorns are quite a common substitute food in northern Europe, woffling. Pigs also fed on them in autumn. Not sure they are hugely nourishing, but they were eaten. Kinda a desperation thing. A few chefs use them for infusions - David everett Whatsit at Le Champignon Sauvage...they taste interesting, a bit like chicory, hence were also used as coffee substitutes.

Whitamakafullo Fri 12-Oct-12 16:16:13

Nobody mentioned Braveheart yet? Full of shite from start to finish, and I say that as someone with Wallace blood flowing through my veins winkgrin

SirBoobAlot Fri 12-Oct-12 16:27:23

Titanic gets right on my tits too.

Oh, pretty much the whole "The Other Boleyn Girl".

TunipTheVegemal Fri 12-Oct-12 16:29:10

yes to Braveheart and Titanic.

YY, sieg is right, it's a bit like Guantanamo bay, I think. Torture was illegal, so what he did was 'not torture'. Though obviously it was. sad


But then, there's the really scary fact that if you look at common punishments for children, they pretty much amount to torture too.

I love the inaccuracies in Braveheart. 'History is written by those who have hanged heroes' = I'm telling it my way, dammit! grin

SummerRain Fri 12-Oct-12 20:29:49

Laura, that made me properly laugh out loud... I'm guessing they meant they supported different claimants to the disputed papacy but thought us dumb folk at home wouldn't grasp such an intellectual concept hmm

Penelope1980 Fri 12-Oct-12 20:45:43

Re Braveheart, you mean Isabella of France didn't have an affair with William Wallace while under the age of 9? grin And William Wallace didn't have the kind of long hair popular in the early 1990s?

Laura your post reminds me of a book I read once about the 1300s where the distinction between capitalists and communists was drawn, as if they existed. Can't remember the book now though - it wasn't a famous one.

Apart from the Murdoch thing mentioned in the OP my main peeve about the Titanic isn't an inaccuracy as such but find it annoying how it seems 95% books and movies set over 1912 have at least someone die or on the ship. Can't articulate why that bugs me, but it does.

sieglinde Sat 13-Oct-12 10:50:07

yy Penelope - Marxist whiggish interpretations - my most hated is the movie Lady Jane, in which Guildford Dudley is a cuddlesome socialist.

How have i failed to mention Anonymous? SOOO bad it's beautiful. I kept count of the errors, and gave up when I reached three figures in the first hour. Funnier than Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The entire male peerage are Elizabeth I's illegitimate children and alos her lovers and fathers of other peer children. hmm

yyy Titanic. What a pile of shite. They way Miss Bukater is addressed as Rose by complete strangers, frinstance...

TunipTheVegemal Sat 13-Oct-12 10:53:37

I've just remembered what pisses me off even more.
When a character in a film or tv drama is given credit for an important actual historical event, thus erasing the heroism/intelligence/hard work of the actual people that did it. Prime example: when the lesbian sister in the last series of the new Upstairs Downstairs organises the Kindertransport.

TunipTheVegemal Sat 13-Oct-12 10:54:30

yes re Lady Jane, and the way Jane & Guildford manage to fall in love just before she gets chopped.

SirBoobAlot Sat 13-Oct-12 11:41:48

Anonymous - is that the Shakespeare one? Never watched it, maybe I should...

YY Tunip, makes me quite sad actually.

Oh - and "From Hell". Now, I love Johnny Depp, and as a work of fiction it is good, but if you're going to spend a budget like that on a Jack The Ripper film, why choose the least plausible theory, plus have one of the victim manage to get away at the end?!

sieglinde Sat 13-Oct-12 12:44:14

SirBoob, it's the one that sees the earl of Oxford as the author of Shakespeare. because someone PLEBEIAN could never have written such majestic stuff. Highly recommended as it's such utter and complete and total shite... makes Elizabeth and The Tudors look quite good.

EmBOOsa Sat 13-Oct-12 12:56:27

Oh god, I'd wiped From Hell from my memory! I was fuming watching it, but then it is an Alan Moore and he is a twat.

SirBoobAlot Sat 13-Oct-12 13:05:45

Sieglinde grin I shall have to look it up now! Was it is as painful as Elizabeth / The Golden Age? Because they actually physically hurt at some points.

Penelope1980 Sun 14-Oct-12 00:52:26

I came across a mistake in the book "Sarah's Key" which really grated - the Jews in Paris got a letter from some Jews in Eastern Europe c1940 which detailed what was happening to them at the hands of the Nazis. I am 95% sure that such a letter never would have made it past the censors. It was just a little thing and not intergral to the story, but for me made me wonder about the historical accuracy of the rest of it which made it less enjoyable. Which is a shame as was enjoying it until that point.

MooncupGoddess Wed 17-Oct-12 17:58:48

Public snogging pre the 1960s really annoys me. There is a BBC adaptation of Persuasion where Anne and Captain Wentworth engage in some tongue-twisting on a crowded street at the end! It just would not have happened - at most they would have exchanged meaningful looks and he would have put his hand under her arm.

nickeldaisical Thu 18-Oct-12 16:00:01

oh, yes, the kissing!!
it's everywhere! never would have happened!

Mirage Sun 28-Oct-12 21:18:25

Could the 'Israel; on the van in The Sound of Music,be the name rather than the country?

I get annoyed with grammatical errors,spelling mistakes and the wrong word being used in the wrong context in books.It happens surprisingly often and really spoils my enjoyment.Do they actually use proof readers these days.Bloody hell,I've only got O levels and even I can spot them.hmm

TunipTheHollowVegemalLantern Mon 29-Oct-12 11:15:21

I've just been reading Jacqueline Wilson's new Victorian foundling one, Emerald Star. The story is told by Hetty/Emerald and at one point she says 'Let's cut to the chase'. This is surely an anachronism from the days of cinema, no?

TunipTheHollowVegemalLantern Mon 29-Oct-12 11:19:44

re The Sound of Music, I once read a movie mistakes entry that claimed it was ridiculous that nuns would have been able to siphon petrol out of a fuel tank. Someone else pointed out that nuns due to their living without men frequently can do stuff like car maintenance.

80sbabe Sat 10-Nov-12 22:29:40

My dd's class topic this term is The Tudors. She brought home a book this week from the school library which stated in the blurb that it contained up to date research facts.
It claimed that Anne Boleyn was beheaded on a block.
That Jane Seymour gave birth to Edward VI by caesarean section.
That water was a common drink in Tudor times.
That Katherine Howard was illiterate.
Where they did their research I don't know but I have been tempted to return it with corrections in red ink ! grin

sashh Wed 14-Nov-12 06:48:36

OK I've got one the otherway round.

I had some made for TV film on about a schoolgirl smuggling Jews out of the Warsaw Ghetto and keeping them in the attic. All 13 of them. Oh and she had a little sister to look after too.

I thought what a ridiculous idea.

But I googled Stefania Podgórska


mummytime Wed 14-Nov-12 07:19:35

sashh that story is amazing!

LineRunner Wed 14-Nov-12 23:17:36

MN should write a proper book. Of proper women's history.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 13:12:55

Yes, please!

If for no other reason than I'd love to see 'The Little MN PROPER WOMEN'S HISTORY DAMMIT Book' alongside the Baby Book and the Pregnancy Book. grin

I love that story sashh.

5dcsandallthelittlesantahats Fri 07-Dec-12 06:25:13

Mines just a tiny thing (!) but in blackadder nursie says to Elizabeth something like dont do that or they'll cut off your head like they did to your sister Mary.

TunipTheVegedude Tue 11-Dec-12 10:53:48

Nicked this post from another thread since it's such a good one:

'Lancelottie Sat 29-Sep-12 23:20:28
Ignore | Favourite
Nope, can't cope with Falco since I read a line that went something like 'he'd thought of a reasonable price and added a zero on the end' -- not in bloody Roman numerals he hadn't!'

skullcandy Thu 27-Dec-12 01:13:13

the thing about the other boleyn girl, is that it is based on fact, mary was henrys mistress, she did bear a son who was most likely a royal bastard.

Gregory always states in her novels that she takes the bare historical facts and creates a fiction around them, she isnt presenting them as fact.

FaLaLaLaLauraPalmer Thu 27-Dec-12 01:36:56

The dialogue in The Hour. So contemporary it makes my teeth itch!

BOFingSanta Thu 27-Dec-12 01:55:53

Downton Abbey! Julian Fellowes frequently has the characters use anachronistic phrases like "big girl's blouse", which was first reported in the 1960s. There's usually at least one clanger per episode.

DioneTheDiabolist Thu 27-Dec-12 15:47:42

Caesarian sections have been done for millennia. They are not a modern invention.

Astralabe Thu 27-Dec-12 20:18:50

Not sure if anyone has mentioned it but nitpickers is a good website if you like this kind of thing - with my History class we used it to spot the inaccuracies in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (there were many!)

kickassangel Thu 27-Dec-12 20:41:13

The other Boleyn girl is one of those where Mary is given modern ideals with no reason to do that than to gain our sympathies for the character, e.g. She always wanted to be with her son and let him run/kick freely, she saw Henry as an oversized child etc. she may have done,or she may have been a jealous shrew who only cared about trying to keep her position and only headed to the countryside when it was obvious it was that or lose her head.

kickassangel Thu 27-Dec-12 20:43:09

C sections have been around for a long time but the mothers didn't usually survive. I am very glad to have access to modern medicine (would be dead now without it)

sarahtigh Sat 05-Jan-13 18:36:35

well not so much movies but in any ancient history programme when they find a skeleton of child they immediately seem to think child sacrifice rather than it probably died in infancy from infection or one of the numerous causes of infant mortality and then in last two minutes after all their research yes the child did just die young

even in history if you hear hooves think horses not zebras

ZebraOwl Wed 06-Feb-13 00:37:46

Argh, yes, the kissing, the kissing! It seems as though film/programme-makers think we won't understand the relationship unless we get to see a tonsil-tennis match taking place.

Bad History makes me have All The Rage in all contexts though. I watched a C5 "History" programme once & got in such a froth my friend got freaked out by my ranting. Ahem. I get just as cross when I hear Bad History in real life: as a Young Leader I almost bit a hole in my tongue not correcting the Brownie Guider who made a throwaway comment about Churchill spending his evenings at Number 10 watching TV. During WWII. I could have wept. Living in London I overhear vastly more than my share of Bad History, too, as there is so much History Stuff & so many people admiring it that the idiots who like to show off their "knowledge" are there in strength. On a related note, what is wrong with adults who blatantly make up answers rather than admitting they don't know?!

Have got all History Cross now, thinking about Bad History. A History Fit, maybe? Grump/

deleted203 Wed 06-Feb-13 00:51:08

Braveheart. Makes me cringe that there are so many, many historical inaccuracies. Wallace was killed in 1305. Edward I died in 1307. Edward II married Isabella in 1308. Hmmm...yet she had met, shagged and got up the duff by Wallace in time to tell Edward I about it on his death bed?

I absolutely hate any film based on history that then makes up its own story, to be honest. If you are basing it on real people then at least make it bloody accurate.

What really drives me mad about these films is that so many people will happily believe all this, not knowing any better.

RM76 Wed 06-Feb-13 00:57:52

'Pet Peeve' is the right phrase, mine is:

Gladiator (yes, I don't know why I watched it either)
A German Shepherd, Really????

LineRunner Wed 06-Feb-13 01:10:22


What can I say. It was only after twenty viewings that I finally dragged my eyes away from Russell Crowe enough to see it was not entirely historically accurate. Still like it, though.

The awnings over the provincial arena were well done.

ZebraOwl Thu 07-Feb-13 03:01:08

Oooh, just been reminded: all the films where the Americans win WWII all on their own.

U-571 is one that instantly leaps to mind, claiming it was US submariners who first captured an Enigma machine. It's bad enough when it's a general "la la la we won the war with our awesome" but warping a specific story like this is just... Leaving aside the Bad History & the perpetuation of the We Won The War For Them myth in the US, it is a pretty shabby way to treat the [memory of] the British personnel who were involved in the first capture of an Enigma machine before America even came into the war!

Then of course there's The Great Escape - no Americans were in the camp then much less involved in the escape. As for the motorbike ridiculousness!

Greydog Mon 25-Feb-13 12:03:16

Like one of the other posters on here I am a re enactor, and have spent many hours telling people what they see on the screen is not what happened. Husband spent an hour explaining to one group of people that Braveheart was not a documentary. When the Da Vinci code came out - because I speak about religion in medieval times - I spoke to dozens of punters who believed that the whole thing was true. In the end I resorted to explaining it was Harry Potter for grown ups! U571 is a really dreadful one, ignoring the sacrifice of the British who captured the machine. It puts me in mind of the Errol Flynn films that were so dislike by the British, and there's a famous cartoon of Flynn after (I think) a film called Objective Burma, with the ghost of a tommy saying to Flynn "Excuse me, Mr. Flynn, you're sitting on some graves" That film was withdrawn from British cinemas.

deleted203 Mon 25-Feb-13 14:25:18

The thing about Errol Flynn was that, as a naturalised American citizen in 1942, he became eligible for the draft when the USA entered the war and was completely rejected. He had a heart murmur and he had already suffered at least one heart attack. He had recurrent malaria, chronic back pain (for which he self-medicated with morphine and later, with heroin), lingering chronic tuberculosis, and numerous venereal diseases. (Lovely!) Flynn, famous for his athletic roles and promoted as a paragon of physical beauty, was classified 4-F – unqualified for military service because of not meeting the minimum physical fitness standards.

I suspect Hollywood studios did not want to publicise just how physically defective he actually was and a lot of people regarded him as a draft dodger, which increased dislike of his 'war' movies!

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Tue 26-Feb-13 19:47:23

YY re U571 - had forgotten that "US capture" part till now. Grr.

unitarian Thu 28-Feb-13 11:13:51

Two authors who have done extensive research - Dorothy Dunnett and Neal Stephenson.
As SummerRain says upthread, Stephenson uses dramatic licence. But you do learn a hell of a lot!

ZebraOwl Wed 13-Mar-13 00:18:09

Sadly the people responsible for it seem to have vanished, but History Spork has excellent - and incredibly funny - deconstructions of History By Hollywood that I think people on this thread would prolly enjoy grin

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 13-Mar-13 01:36:35


TunipTheVegedude Thu 02-May-13 09:21:54

I've found a fabulous one. 'Rivals in the Tudor Court' by Darcy Bonnette. It has lace dresses, mahogany tables, and.....

LaQueen Sat 25-May-13 10:38:35

I have the box-set of The Tudors sitting on my shelf.

But, I simply can't bring myself to watch it, since someone mentioned that in it, they have Henry's sister Mary marrying the King of Portugal hmm

WTAF angry

limitedperiodonly Sat 25-May-13 13:04:59

Historical accuracy is not the point of The Tudors laqueen grin

Public Enemies had Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson dying in completely the wrong order and wrong places, but as it had Johnny Depp in it, who was technically too old to play John Dillinger, I was willing to overlook that.

Where is the Israel van in The Sound of Music ?

TunipTheVegedude Thu 30-May-13 21:22:27

I watched the episode of The Tudors that was on after Anne Boleyn the other night and they were riding around in Victorian carriages wearing very odd clothes.
Still fun though.

Saltire Wed 05-Jun-13 18:45:48

80sbabe - Ds2 came home from school (primary) and told DH and I "Bloody Mary was also known as Mary Queen of Scots".
erm no she wasn't.

I also get very annoyed at Braveheart, and all the "we won the war with no help from anyone else" american films.

just be accurate!

TunipTheVegedude Wed 05-Jun-13 19:06:03

Been reading some Suzannah Dunn novels about Tudors. She likes using modern language to make speech sound more natural. This is fine. I certainly see her point about it being better than all the affected formality historical novelists often like. But she keeps using modern ideas and metaphors. Airlock, I was dubious about. Double take was a bit distracting since it so obviously comes from cinema. But really, Anne Boleyn did not serve Henry VIII a cream tea. She just didn't.

orangeandemons Wed 05-Jun-13 19:12:58

Costume faux pas drive me mad, especially recent ones. I couldn't watch Ashes to Ashes, as her 80's clothes were so

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 10-Jun-14 07:30:09

Just wanted to reanimate the thread and add: whenever there's a falconry scene they always use Harris hawks because they're cheap, easy to train and look impressive for the camera. The White Queen had one, as did the 2004 King Arthur film.
Problem is, they're American. There are wild colonies in England now, but that happened literally in the last few decades.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now