My PHD is in Forrest Gump studies

forrest gumpWatching Inherit the Wind I was surprised by a few things. First of all I started it at 12:45 at night so I knew i was in for a long night. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the movie was actually quite good, filled with strong performances and the kind of sharp, dry wit you find in movies from the pre-blockbuster era. However as enthralled as I may have been by the film itself, I had to keep the films historical content at arm’s length. To tell the truth I know very little about the details of the Scopes Monkey Trial and I didn’t want these movies historical inaccuracies to corrupt my knowledge of the real case. This dilemma ties directly into a commonly encountered problem with historical movies. An audience, uneducated in the subject in the film they’re watching will be easily swayed by a persuasive film. In Gladiator for instance I’m sure audiences would be surprised to learn that Russell Crowe’s character never existed and that Commodus reigned for 11 years before being drowned in his bathtub. However if you asked an audience they would say that obviously Commodus died at the hands of Maximus. It’s not that Hollywood is trying to dumb down audiences (although based on today’s movies I’m not so sure about that) It’s just that audiences like to be entertained so when you have a historical piece, liberties must be taken with the material to make it more viewer friendly.  Inherit the Wind added in the preacher and his daughter for emotional effect despite them having no bearing on the case itself. Historical movies are great for getting audiences interested in a subject which they will hopefully research more after the film ends. However taken as historical fact, movies can easily misinform the populace. If you’re looking for a historical film that appears to stay true to the source material I would recommend the soon to be released 12 Years a Slave sporting a stellar cast to go along with its incredible story, the film is already garnering heavy Oscar hype.

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