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 Greatest historical film?

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Greatest historical film?
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)?
13%
 13% [ 3 ]
Bridge on the River Kwai (1962)?
4%
 4% [ 1 ]
Ben Hur (1955)?
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
The Cruel Sea (1950's)?
9%
 9% [ 2 ]
Troy (2003)?
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Gladiator (2000)?
9%
 9% [ 2 ]
Anthony and Cleopatra (1956)?
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Alexander (2003)?
4%
 4% [ 1 ]
Elizabeth (1999)?
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Spartacus (1960)?
4%
 4% [ 1 ]
The Great Escape (1963)?
9%
 9% [ 2 ]
The Battle of Britain (1969)?
4%
 4% [ 1 ]
Paths of Glory (1959)?
4%
 4% [ 1 ]
Passion of the Christ (2002)?
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Other choice?
39%
 39% [ 9 ]
Total Votes : 23
 

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Hereword Awake
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PostSubject: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 13:59

A million dollar question, I know, and it depends upon umpteen criteria as well as personal choice, but some movies are generally acknowledged as 'the greatest' - critically acclaimed and successful?

Multiple voting is allowed...

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 14:49

Can I add "La Reine Margot" (1994) in the "other choice" category?
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Hereword Awake
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 14:54

Indeed thou canst!

I ran out of film choices, so left it generic?
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 17:03

Historical films can be great on many levels but are rarely great as historical depictions of actual events or people. About the nearest to achieving it in the list was probably "The Battle of Britain" in that it did attempt to explain the chronology of events with some accuracy as well as providing some of the political background to what transpired. But it was a very disjointed affair in the end, I thought, with rather pedestrian characterisations.

Films which attempt to portray a drama with the historical context functioning primarily as a backdrop tend to be more successful in that they have an opportunity to portray at least the atmosphere of the time with some vividness, if not quite accuracy, but tend also to fail magnificently when the story involves actual people who always appear distorted in order to fit in to the drama.

"Troy" and "The Passion of the Christ" are as historical as "Around the World in 80 Days"" in my view. They present fable in a quasi-hisorical context, but that's about the extent of the inclusion in the term in the description.

What is "Anthony and Cleopatra" from 1956?

I'm plumping for "The Grapes of Wrath" myself. Fictional but credible and puts you right into the era and events.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 19:07

Deciding on an "est" is impossible in any sphere. However, funny about this because I started a topic last week that disappeared, on great war films. I saw one again last week and the impact remains. So 'Patton' - is my choice. History because it was about the swan song of the old military, reasonably accurate - with some tweaking and a fine, fine performance by George C Scott. Intimates of Patton say it was a very true portrayal.

I ought back nordmann as I am forever putting Steinbeck forward in my literature 'ests' The film of 'Grapes' is still hard to watch, however I'll stick with the two Georges. I bet I get shot down in flames for that one.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 19:37

I was considering "Cockleshell Heroes" but it traduces Blondie Haslar horribly (according to those who knew him in later, single-handed sailing days), so I'll go wth the Steinbeck as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 19:54

I voted "other" for Gettysburg.

T
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 20:08

I haven't seen enough of those, or at least enough recently, to judge them well. I have seen Troy and enjoyed it fine, but I don't really think it was much of a movie. For a start, Helen was insipid and wouldn't have launched a canoe let alone a thousand ships. And some of the other casting was poor too (Brad Pitt, for instance). That's not taking into account the credibility of the history, which is somewhat mythic anyway. Or the Americanisation of the whole effort.

I liked Ice Cold in Alex when I saw it quite a while ago; I'm not sure it's 'great' though. Maybe a little subdued for that accolade.

There is a problem with historical accuracy and film-making. We watched recently A Bridge Too Far and it seemed to take its history very seriously with the result that it was very muddly and confusing to watch if you don't know the events. Something at the start made us think this was Montgomery's battle and we kept wondering where he had got to, when it was actually Patton in charge! And there were so many fantastic stars in it you got diverted checking them all out. So all up, it wasn't totally successful as a film really.

Of those listed I might go with Lawrence of Arabia which I remember enjoying and which was lavish and epic and entertaining and I gather relatively accurate (though things I read about TE Lawrence mean you could attribute almost anything you fancied to him and be able to argue it).

Cheers, Caro.


Last edited by Caro on Tue 24 Jan 2012, 22:41; edited 1 time in total
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 21:17

If you are expecting any sort of approach within several thousand parsecs of "The Truth" in a film, you are in the wrong place and doing the wrong things. Films are entertainment, and their underlying rationale is - profit. Historical accuracy? Not on the agenda at all.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 22:17

That's my attitude too Gil, I go to be entertained not educated although my blinding ignorance of most history allowed me to enjoy many of those films without being irritated by the inaccuracies. I suppose, to one who knows, it must be like watching any play set in a place or revolving around an occupation with which you are really familiar, intensely infuriating!

I haven't seen 'Passion of the Christ', I can't imagine why I would want to to, but I was struck that many of the boys I used to work with - stop me if I begin to sound too much like another exteacher of our acquaintance - loved it on account of the blood and gore.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 22:31

I had to go for "other". Not sure which I had in mind but for historically accurate fiction I automatically thought of "The Remains of the Day".

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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Wed 25 Jan 2012, 05:59

Well I've seen 11 of the movies on the list over the years and can barely remember any of them!

Not really one for films and cinema, but have to agree with Urn and Ferval above in that it is a mistake to expect historical accuracy in any film, unless it is a documentary.

Although, one film I did enjoy immensely (probably the only one I've watched in the last year!) was The Kings Speech. Haven't a clue how accurate it was, of course.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Wed 25 Jan 2012, 07:48

I wonder what - say by 2056 - they'll make of the events and major players of 1997, as presented in "The Queen" (2006)?
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Wed 25 Jan 2012, 10:07

@ferval wrote:

I haven't seen 'Passion of the Christ', I can't imagine why I would want to to, but I was struck that many of the boys I used to work with - stop me if I begin to sound too much like another exteacher of our acquaintance - loved it on account of the blood and gore.

Hi ferval,

When we went to see "Passion of the Christ" there were three great hulking lads sitting near to us. They were pretty rough-looking and rowdy - gave the definite impression that they'd come to the film because they thought it would be a bit of a laugh - some idiot being beaten to a pulp by efficiently brutal Roman soldiers. By the end of the film they were - like the rest of us - sitting in stunned silence. One was visibly distressed.

But I wonder just how much of the scourging scenes showed Roman punishment techniques accurately? The assortment of instruments used (not just simple whips or rods) with their fiendishly designed tips meant to pierce and lacerate the flesh - I'm sure Roman ingenuity could devise such things (Gibson presumably had all this researched carefully) - but would such *prolonged* brutality have been used before execution, especially on a relatively unimportant prisoner? And just how much punishment could a man - even a healthy young man - take without dying on the spot from blood loss, shock or exhaustion?


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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Wed 25 Jan 2012, 10:13

Lethal Weapons, you mean?
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Wed 25 Jan 2012, 11:33

I always loved Zulu although I know it is not at all accurate.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Wed 25 Jan 2012, 14:25

@nordmann wrote:
Lethal Weapons, you mean?

Oh, ha ha, Nordmann, but my question was genuine, if naive. I was really wondering whether MG had exaggerated the *utter* brutality of the scourging scenes in "The Passion of the Christ", presumably to push his own religious agenda.

Of course no one wants to belittle the horror of the suffering undergone by Jesus, and obviously the Romans often flogged offenders to death - or near death - but that's surely not what Pilate ordered (or would have allowed - was Roman discipline really so slack?) in this particular case.

I haven't time to check the details now, but I'm sure that in St. John's account (probably the most reliable - please don't laugh), Pilate fully intended to release Christ after the flogging. The scourging was to be a routine punishment, and *not* one so severe that it was a possible death sentence. It was not even ordered as a torture session before execution. Indeed *after* the scourging Pilate made one last attempt to save the prisoner (after a conversation with him). He then reluctantly handed him over for crucifixion.

But it's possibly wiser to stick to a discussion of "Zulu" - undisputed history (whatever history is).
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Wed 25 Jan 2012, 15:15

The scourging/crucifixion scenario we are familiar with from the christian gospels just doesn't square with standard Roman practise. And they did have a standard, especially in the execution of punishments decreed legally by a governor, who was normally intent that the more brutal punishments be as publicly performed as possible. There is plenty of mention of such instances, but none outside of the christian tradition which has the miscreant suffer the worst excesses of two distinct public punishments conducted first in private and then as part of a run-of-the-mill general crucifixion.

Wasn't Michael Caine so young in Zulu?
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Wed 25 Jan 2012, 21:36

Funny that about Michael Caine he wasn't very young when I first saw Zulu but he is s now when I see it again. They must store the copies in Boots new serum.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 05:14

Or maybe Michael Caine just looks younger when compared to now.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 09:15

@Priscilla wrote:
Funny that about Michael Caine he wasn't very young when I first saw Zulu but he is s now when I see it again. They must store the copies in Boots new serum.

Pity they didn't use Pond's Vanishing Cream.

Only joking. It's a good film really.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 13:33

@Triceratops wrote:
I voted "other" for Gettysburg.

A favourite of mine, is that; but I feel it's more of a re-enactor's paradise than a great passionate war-film. And the attempt at accuracy went too far in the desperate bid to get the actors to wear the correct beards.
Actually, it's an interesting notion (to me, at any rate) that 'every man has a beard'. Therefore you cannot stick General James Longstreet's facial hair on Tom Berringer's face and not wonder why it looks odd. To be honest, it looked decidely odd on Longstreet, but such were the fashions of the day. Berringer might have within himself an 'inner' beard. But it's all his own; and it probably will not resemble Longstreet's.
So 'Got-his-beard' is fun, and doubtless accurate down to the last cuff-button. But to grab the horrors of war, a 'celluloid Guernica' in effect, my vote would be for 'Apocalypse Now'.


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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 13:46

@Priscilla wrote:
Funny that about Michael Caine he wasn't very young when I first saw Zulu but he is s now when I see it again. They must store the copies in Boots new serum.
Following on from your logic, when I first saw 'Zulu' I was about half Michael Caine's age. Now I look back at the movie I am nearer twice his age.
Interestingly, Michael Caine was almost exactly the right age to play the delightfully named Gonville Bromhead. Caine was 31, whilst Bromhead at Rorke's Drift was 34.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 16:47

I suppose that "All Quiet on the Western Front" and "Johnny Got His Gun" are also worth watching for the horror of war, aren't they? Both spoiled for me as I'd read the books first.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 17:18

Films rarely stay true to an original book and therefore are always a disappointment. I try to avoid watching anything that I've read first.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Wed 25 Apr 2012, 08:42

Ridley Scott's 'The Kingdom of Heaven'....
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Wed 25 Apr 2012, 21:45

As indicated above, the question is "What do you mean by greatest?" Is it the most accurate? The best in entertainment?

As a Christian I should probably have been deeply moved by The Passion of the Christ. Actually, I was bored. And even the Pope cast doubt on its historical accuracy!

There are some good films on there, but I'm going with "Other": Das Boot. A terrific film, and a very accurate portrayal of the subject matter. It has its flaws, but fewer than it might have done.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Sun 06 May 2012, 16:08


I have always wondered why Mel Gibson did not make the English rather than the Jews the villains of ;The Passion of Christ’. This would have been in line with his other ‘historical films, have removed the need for sub-titles in their case, and avoided any charge of anti-sematism.

I have not seen the film as I liked to be entertained at the cinema and watching someone having the hell beaten out of him for a couple of hours is not my idea of entertainment.

nordmann you wrote

“The scourging/crucifixion scenario we are familiar with from the christian gospels just doesn't square with standard Roman practise. And they did have a standard, especially in the execution of punishments decreed legally by a governor, who was normally intent that the more brutal punishments be as publicly performed as possible. There is plenty of mention of such instances, but none outside of the christian tradition which has the miscreant suffer the worst excesses of two distinct public punishments conducted first in private and then as part of a run-of-the-mill general crucifixion. “

I doubt if even you have done a complete review of all writings from the Roman Empire at that period so I presume that you got your information from elsewhere. How many other accounts from that period are there that also go into that level of detail of the death of an individual who is crucified as the gospels do for Jesus? Josephus, in the Wars of the Jews, describes how the Roman Procurator Albinus, at the instigation of the Jewish leaders, had Jesus the son of Ananus ‘a plebeian and a husbandman’ ‘whipped till his bones were laid bare’. There is no suggestion that I can see in the passage that this was done in public. Albinus, did release him as he considered him a madman but without doubt Albinus would have had him crucified if he considered him a risk. I can therefore see nothing unlikely concerning the gospel accounts of Jesus being scourged and then crucified, in fact the scourging could help explain Jesus’ rapid death from crucifixion.

Regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Thu 07 Jun 2012, 14:03

@Triceratops wrote:
I voted "other" for Gettysburg.

T
Yes, I really like it too. Yes, there are some inaccuracies in it, but, it is up there with the best.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Thu 07 Jun 2012, 14:25

Welcome Man From Devana!
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Thu 13 Sep 2012, 00:28

This just might be a contender.



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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Sat 29 Mar 2014, 15:57

@nordmann wrote:
What is "Anthony and Cleopatra" from 1956?

Intriguing question. That said - Giant (1956) has been described as being 'Antony and Cleopatra transported to Texas'.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Sun 30 Mar 2014, 17:17

This category is going to be subjective and of course it will change periodically as new films come out. I saw "Giant" many moons ago and liked it.  I seem to remember the 1963 (Elizabeth Taylor) "Antony and Cleopatra" was panned by the critics at the time it was released but since it has been looked at again and deemed perhaps not so bad.  I voted for "Spartacus" because I did enjoy it though I don't know how true a depiction it was of the slave revolt way back when (the 1960 film "Spartacus"- not the skin flick TV series).  I preferred certain TV versions of the story of Queen Elizabeth I (one starred Helen Mirren and another featured Anne-Marie Duff) to the Cate Blanchett film (of which I've only seen excerpts, not the whole kaboodle, but the excerpts did not make me want to watch the entire film), but then I can't warm to CB, though I find it hard to describe why. It's just an instinctive reaction.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Sun 30 Mar 2014, 17:32

Helen Mirren was superb as Elizabeth, wasn't she? The supporting cast - Jeremy Irons as Dudley and Toby Jones as Robert Cecil - was excellent too. Essex was weak though - no sexual chemistry between Hugh Dancy and Mirren.

My favourite line from Elizabeth/Mirren was, "Oh well, there's work to be done."

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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Sun 30 Mar 2014, 18:14

@Temperance wrote:
Helen Mirren was superb as Elizabeth, wasn't she?
I'm not saying I've seen loads and loads of Helen Mirren's work but I can't recall seeing anything where she has featured that I haven't liked to date. She was (in my opinion) the best (that I've seen) Morgana/Morgan Le Fay in "Excalibur".  I did like Katie McGrath in "Merlin" though despite the many plot-holes in said series.  It wasn't pretentious.  The Morgana in "Camelot" had a French accent and the kid who played Arthur was very much Arthur the snotty teenager, so I couldn't "hang in there" with that series very long.  I believe it was cancelled after one series.  The show runners said they were going to go back to Mallory's "Morte d'Arthur" - well if they did it was with a very, very, very generous grain of salt .......  But I'm getting off topic and I don't want to incite his Nordmannship to wrath - after all Morgana and Arthur were legendary characters, so we don't know for certain whether they lived or not and this is the "historical film" thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Greatest historical film?   Sun 30 Mar 2014, 18:24

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
 But I'm getting off topic and I don't want to incite his Nordmannship to wrath ...



Oh, nice one, LiR - His Nordmannship. You really are getting into the swing of things here. We'll add that one Smile  to all his other titles and forms of address.
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