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Monthly Archives: December 2016

List of Historically Inaccurate Movies

Braveheart (1995)
This movie is based on the story of Scotsman William Wallace and his role in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward of England.
Bloopers: In Braveheart, the main character of William Wallace was shown to have led the Scottish crusade against the British authorities. William Wallace’s character as depicted in the movie had a relationship with Princess Isabella of France, who also bore him a child. The character of Robert the Bruce was shown to be fighting alongside the English in the Battle of Falkirk. The Prince of Wales, who went on to become King Edward II, was portrayed as an effeminate and weak person.

History Says: The real William Wallace had traces of Scottish nobility in his blood, he wasn’t a commoner as shown in the movie. Princess Isabella of France was around two years old when the Battle of Falkirk was fought, not the grown woman that she was according to the movie. Robert the Bruce was never a part of the Battle of Falkirk and King Edward II’s character was exaggerated in order to achieve a more dramatic effect.

Gladiator (2000)
The Roman General, Maximus Decimus Meridius is made a slave, after having his family killed and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ murder. Maximus rises to become a gladiator, and seeks his revenge from the Emperor’s treacherous son, Commodus.
Bloopers: In the film, Emperor Commodus was shown to have killed his father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius. His character’s reign also does not last long as he was shown to have been killed in the gladiatorial arena by the main character Maximus.

History Says: Emperor Commodus’ reign lasted for a good thirteen years before he was strangled in his bath by Narcissus. His father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius died of illness (plague, most probably). Allusions of Commodus’ character being incestuous are also incorrect.

The Patriot (2000)
This is the story of an American man pulled into the American Revolutionary War when he sees his family in trouble. The lead character of Benjamin Martin is inspired from actual Continental Army officers, Francis Marion, Nathanael Greene, Andrew Pickens, and others.
Bloopers: As the character was loosely inspired by Francis Marion, it was expected that the makers show him to be a slave owner. In fact, the concept of slavery itself was ignored by the makers of the film. British troops were shown to have killed prisoners of war, burnt a church full of civilians and committed other horrendous atrocities.

History Says: Slavery was rampant in those times, and the real Francis Marion was known to be a slave owner. The depiction of the British troops and the crimes they committed had an uncanny resemblance to those of the Nazis in WWII, which is a very glaring exaggeration. The image of the British was a far cry from reality according to most historians, who say that the scale of violence shown in the movie was stretched beyond imagination.

10,000 BC (2008)
Set in the prehistoric era, this film is about a young hunter who travels to far away lands in order to protect his tribe.
Bloopers: The construction of the Egyptian Pyramids was included in this film. The makers showed the use of trained mammoths in the construction of the Pyramids.

History Says: The historical inaccuracy in this movie was that the construction of the Egyptian Pyramids, with the Benben stone on top was shown approximately 7500 years too early. Geographically speaking, the movie shows a rainforest at the base of snowy mountains, with a desert in the vicinity, which are obvious inaccuracies, as they are natural anomalies.

Apocalypto (2006)
As the Sun sets on the Maya Empire, the rulers decide that the only way to survive is by offering human sacrifices to please the Gods. This is the story of a young man held captive for such a sacrifice.
Bloopers: The Maya tribes were shown to be blood-thirsty, uncouth and unhygienic people who indulged in grotesque brutalities. Mass sacrifices were attributed to the Maya tribes as well.

History Says: While the overall depiction of the Maya tribes seemed botched-up, the sacrifices shown were more in line with the Aztec civilization. Positive references to the Maya tribes were scant. Their scientific, agricultural, artistic and spiritual achievements were completely ignored.

Pearl Harbor (2001)
This film tells us the story of two friends, Rafe and Danny, and their love interest, set against the backdrop of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Bloopers: The cinematic version had us believe that the Japanese Zero fighter aircraft were green in color. Also, Admiral Kimmel was shown to be playing a game of golf as the news of the Japanese attack reached him. In fact, several inaccurate depictions of naval fleets and army guidelines were scattered throughout the film.

History Says: The Japanese Zero fighters were gray in color, and Admiral Kimmel was only scheduled to play a round of golf that morning, which he canceled when he heard of the unfortunate attack. Several other liberties taken by the makers raised questions, and the National Geographic Channel even made a documentary called Beyond the Movie: Pearl Harbor which highlighted them.

Amadeus (1984)
This is the story of the musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told through the eyes of his one-time rival, Antonio Salieri.
Bloopers: The whole plot of the film was centered on Antonio Salieri as the antagonist and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Mozart’s death.

History Says: Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Mozart were rivals, but the supposed hatred that Salieri was shown to have for Mozart was far from true. While as per historians, Mozart and Salieri were never on back-slapping terms, they were not sworn enemies either.

U-571 (2000)
A WWII story, it tells us about the capture of a German submarine by American troops.
Blooper: Set in 1942, this movie tells us that the Americans daringly captured the U-571 German U-boat to take over their enigma cipher machine.

History Says: The real U-571 was never captured, neither was it a part of any such event. It was sunk by the Royal Australian Air Force flying boat off the coast of Ireland. The U-570 too was not captured by the Americans. It was the British Royal Navy who did it in the actual in 1941, even before the Americans had entered WWII. They also destroyed all the classified material found inside.

Alexander (2004)
Alexander, the King of Macedonia sets out to conquer the world. This movie chronicles the life of the great military leader.
Bloopers: The film’s climax shows the Battle of Hydaspes (on the banks of the river Jhelum) in which Alexander was crucially wounded by an arrow. Even the setting of this historic battle, bright and sunny as shown in the movie, is the exact opposite of what actually happened.

History Says: In reality, Alexander was injured by an arrow later that year in the siege against the Malhi (near the present-day city of Multan in Pakistan) in a different battle. The Battle of Hydaspes in fact, was fought on a dark, rainy night.

Robin Hood (2010)
In this film, Robin Hood and his cronies battle the corrupt royals and keep the French from launching an invasion on England.
Bloopers: Yes, the character of Robin Hood is exempt from all historical inaccuracies, being somewhat of a legend himself, but King Philip Augustus of France was a real person who didn’t actually want to invade England, as shown in the film.

History Says: King Philip Augustus just fought to win what he thought belonged to France from the Plantagenets, and those territories were in continental Europe.

Inaccuracies are an inseparable part of Hollywood historicals. Movies like 300 (2007), Spartacus (1960), Troy (2004), King Arthur (2004), The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), Marie Antoinette (2006), Pocahontas (1995) are further examples of how history gets pushed into the background in order to make way for entertainment.

Documentary Filmmaking Tips

#1 Goals and Objectives
Unless you are clear about what you want to showcase, you will not be able to portray the same to your audience. Hence, it is important that you know the purpose and objective of making the movie very well. Once you know the subject well, it becomes easy for filmmakers to even make a documentary without words (which usually happens to be the soul of the movie). Moreover, if the objective of the movie is clear then the very purpose of screening this movie is successfully achieved.

#2 Understanding the Genre
Most documentary movies follow the thought-provoking style or rather the more intense genre, however, as a filmmaker you are free to explore all the different types. Now, it is the genre of the documentary that will decide the use of photographs, real events, videos and interviews, which when edited together will create an appealing impact. The genre would also determine how the scene has to be shot, therefore, it is important for a filmmaker to understand the style he wants to mold his documentary into.

#3 Defining Your Subject
The essence of a documentary movie is to fulfill its purpose; whether it is to inform, teach, educate, or entertain. Moreover, the subject should be defined in a way such that it makes the film dramatic, attractive, appealing and stand out from other films previously written or presented on the same subject.

#4 Thorough Research
Making a documentary film provides the filmmaker with a fair chance to communicate his opinions and ideas related to the subject of his movie. However, it is important to support claims with proper facts and proof, while providing opinions or a specific message concerning the topic. To gather all the proofs and facts, it is important for a filmmaker to conduct a thorough survey of the subject.

#5 Realistic and Believable
When you have authentic facts and information about the subject, it automatically makes your documentary look realistic and believable. The best way to authenticate your information is to interview people who are experts in the subject and take notes of the same.

#6 Getting the Sound Right
It is not very difficult to start rolling the camera and get the right shots needed to screen your documentary if you have a decent camera and the skill to shoot it right. However, the most difficult of all is to get the sound right, which is the soul of any movie and without which interpretation becomes difficult. So, make sure you have the right apparatus to record the sound in sync with the picture to create the right kind of impact.

#7 Exposition
Exposition usually occurs at the beginning of the documentary or when one has to introduce important subject matter in the movie. This aspect is important because it acts like a trailer, which gives the audience a brief idea of what the film is going to be like and introduces the audience to the content and characters (if any) of the movie.

#8 Ask for Opinions
When you are done with making the documentary, make sure you show it to a few close friends, family members, or your mentors to get proper feedback and some genuine critical reviews. If you’re convinced about what they have told you, get back to improving a few scenes or adding new scenes, whatever the case may be. Remember, it is your documentary, therefore, change the content or add new scenes only if you are convinced of the same, it is not compulsory, as reviews are subjective and might differ from person to person.

Choose a Good Film School in Mumbai

Bollywood and its Stalwarts

Mumbai is sometimes called ‘Mayanagri’, which in Sanskrit means ‘the land of magic and illusions’. And Bollywood is all about weaving magic on the big screen. There are some magicians of the film industry who claim that they can infuse their magical touch into the aspirants. These veteran actors have their own acting schools in Mumbai that cater to anybody who comes to the city with a dream in their eyes and, of course, ample money in their pockets.

There are more than a few film acting schools in the city . A quick look through the yellow pages or even the evening daily will have many ads screaming in your face about how they can make you the next big star – provided you pay them a fee.

And the names behind these film acting schools are not small. Big names in the film industry have understood that there is big money in small town people chasing big dreams in Big Bad Bombay. There are various reasons why these film schools work.

The biggest reason is the city itself. The city has this virus in its air that makes one believe that anything is possible and everything is achievable. You just have to run a bit faster, jump a bit higher, and survive a little more.

Another major reason is that almost everyone in this world has a secret and a not-so-secret fantasy. That is to either become a writer or a rock star. Of course, there are more than a few aspiring writers and rock stars in Mumbai, India and all over the world who have turned out to be better accountants, programmers and housewives (now homemakers).

Another reason that the city is swarming with film schools is that anyone can act. Or sing, or dance or paint, or weave. But that does not mean that everyone should act, dance, paint or weave. Taking my example, I can sell good enough, I can explain (some call it teaching) tolerably, and I can manage satisfactorily. But my best talent is writing. So I write. In a nutshell, this paragraph is telling you to do what you do best, and not do it because there is more money or fame in it, but because you have a love for it.

Before Joining a Film School

One has to be careful before even thinking of joining a film school. One should do proper research and have a sound knowledge of the how things work in Mumbai before enrolling in an institute. Remember, there is one thing that a tourist in Mumbai should know. Back off at the first instance of smelling something fishy.

Probably the best bet of joining an institute in Mumbai is to check who owns the acting school. And while some may take it as a joke, but please heed this suggestion, if you are getting all starry-eyed about the name of the school – ensure that the person after whose name the acting school has been named is alive and teaches at the school. Now, there is this Ashok Kumar’s Acting School in Mumbai, which is named after Ashok Kumar, one of the sparkling gems of the film industry. Of course there is every chance that Ashok Kumar’s acting capabilities may have rubbed off on a talented aspirant, but the important words in the previous sentence are ‘may have’. Simply because Ashok Kumar has been dead for a couple of years now.

Who Makes A Film School?

Also, there have been cases where past actors, failed wannabes and other assorted people ‘related to the film industry’ have started their film acting schools for Bollywood. Another breed of individuals who create such schools are nameless personalities who are best known as the ‘second extra in the thirteenth action scene in the debut movie of that producer’s blue eyed girl’, or better still, ‘that child artiste in that movie which won that prize in that film festival in that country in 1963’. Other people are the crème de la crème of fly-by-night film acting schools. These people are just related (related, as in sons, daughters, cousins, friends) of some veteran and well-known actor.

There is Hope, After All…

Before we lose hope and shun the ideas of entering the Indian film industry entirely, let me confess that there is hope. Though there are schools not worth the papers on which they give you a receipt of your fee, there are some good film acting schools in Mumbai. These are the schools that have a better chance of having their students in Mumbai film productions. These schools have a definite structure, syllabi and teaching method. While most other film schools would propound about things like ‘everybody is creative’ and ‘anyone can achieve whatever they want’, the professional ones will give a definite roadmap to your dream destination.

These schools are a bit on the expensive side. Expensive is good, because one thing that an expensive school fee does is make a person self analyze and decide whether they actually want to pursue their dreams. But then, one can safely say that the fee is worth it, what with their way of teaching. Many schools like these do have veteran and experienced personalities of the film industry as their teaching or guest staff.

So, here’s a quick checklist to go through before opting for a film school:

Research: Take as much time as you wish before signing any document at a film acting school. Spend time on the premises. Look around and see whether there is actually some teaching going on.

Learn: Take a look at their past. Find out what the passouts from the school have been up to. Better still, try to communicate with the current students. You are certain to find some inside information on the way the school runs.

Acknowledge: Acknowledge the fact that even though it’s a film school, it is a school. A film school is never ambiguous and has various courses and a set duration for the same.

Finally, going to a film school is just like going back to school. Just ensure that it is as serious as you are in your pursuit of celluloid dreams, and no doubt, you will be on the big screen soon enough.