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13th April 2004Hi-jacking history.
By James Garland
I've just discovered that Hollywood are making a film about the Battle of Britain and according to the press the "Huge" contribution the Americans made. This sounds like the film Hollywood made a couple of years ago about the U.S. navy seizing the enigma machine from a german U boat when in truth it was the Royal Navy.
So before Hollywood decides to make a film about the United States winning the Zulu War I have a proposition. How about Pinewood studios making a film about how the British won the battle of Iwo Jima or how The British were first on the moon or even better how about a film about the British winning the Battle of Gettysburg against the Mongols.
Perhaps Hollywood would then realise how much this history hi-jacking sticks in our throats.
There I've got it off my chest. I feel a lot better now.
DateReplies
13th April 2004Ian Essex
James,
You've read the script and seen the finished film then?
13th April 2004David Alan Gardner
I think you are referring to the film U-571, which apart from the dreasful acting, was in fact a distortion of history, as was Mel Gibson's film of the War Of Independance.

Having said that, I think to many in the UK are too quick to condemn the US.-it has been a la mode for left wing liberals to bash the Yanks,.

Don't forget they were faithful allies of the last century -and they've the money to make the films we can't afford.
13th April 2004Julian Whybra
James I have to agree with you. I lived for a while in Poland behind the Iron Curtain while it was still communist and worked as a fellow in the history dept of a university. The distortions of Polish and modern world history which existed in school text books, academic works, and within the media for public consumption was something the Poles were obliged to endure (although privately they knew otherwise) in order that they remained 'comfortable' with their Russian overlords. We are not obliged to accept or endure the equivalent from the Americans - they should know better (before I'm accused of being anti-American, I'm not, in fact I'm pro, and there are a number of Americans in my family). Writers and TV documentary makers on the Zulu War go to great lengths to present a balanced view and to present the Zulu as well as the British side - not just because it's pc but because it's the right and polite thing to do to avoid a distorted view of history. From Braveheart to U571 from The Patriot to The Alamo Hollywood has always been better than truth to American film makers and it must change because what they are doing is just the same as the Russians were doing in Poland before 1990 or Goebbels was doing in Germany - altering history to suit their own purposes. to quote from another film - a British one - 'Let Right be done!'
13th April 2004David Gardner
Frankly to state that Hollywood "must change" is a bit naive. Why should it?

If a film is made more appealing to a US audience by adding elements that are not historically truthful , and in doing so puts more "bums on seats", then this is likely to continue unless someone comes up with additional funding to make historically accurate entertainment-or perhaps some kind of "truth tax" should be introduced to provide that funding?

However the stark reality is that producers are hardly likely to listen to appeals on the basis of historical merit-why should they when their main moitive is to make money?

Propaganda during war is altogether a different matter, when a state is liable to use any means available, especially during a "total war", to further it's own interests - total war itself a motif used by propoganda master, Dr Goebbels with his "Wollt Ihr Totalen krieg?" speech when the war was already lost-I cannot see this as anything as war by other means-but as a tool of repression of one country over another, or of furthering terrorist activity against democratic civilian regimes is of course a different matter.

Of course today we have personal choice-to watch or not to watch, that is the question :-), but make no mistake, Hollywood moguls call the shots because they have the finance whether one likes it or not.Nothing is likely tol change that.
13th April 2004Julian Whybra
'Must change' - why, for me to go to see it!
Boycott it! don't see the film, don't buy the video!
13th April 2004Steven Sass
I think one point that is often missed by our British cousins is that if indeed Hollywood makes a film that shows Americans usurping a British achievement it is probably not done with the intention of making the US look good. In fact the usual modus operandi amongst Hollywood moguls of today is to denigrate the US, especially its historic achievements, with the possible exception being film treatments dealing with WW II. Nothing makes them happier than to cast aspersion on American Icons such as Davy Crockett, Lewis and Clark and George Custer. It has always been popular to cast Custer as rash but now the next step emerging is to suggest he was a coward who was cut down on the run.

I suspect that if such a film is made where the Americans get the glory instead of the British it's purely because said plot device allowed them to tell a story that might be more profitable for them. Besides my feeling is there are enough media types in GB that want to sully the history of their native soil without any help from Hollywood.

Rather than being an American vs. Great Britain conflict I believe it simply boils down to a liberal vs. conservative fight. Those who see western achievement as evil will attempt to blacken it on both sides of the Atlantic. Many times the films don't have to be overtly anti-American or anti-British to subtly get their point across.

Whereas I do agree with Julian, I've boycotted many films myself, sometimes it causes a serious dearth of entertainment.

Best to all,

Steven

13th April 2004James Garland
David
I wasn't " being quick to condemn the U.S.". I deliberately condemned Hollywood not the U.S. or Americans. I'm sure most Americans know there are plenty of heroic American feats of arms without hi jacking other peoples history. It's Hollywood that makes me mad.
Any historical event will be interpreted by the producers I accept that. However this recent spate of films go too far. There are plenty of good American film makers of historical integrity out there, such as Ken Burns who made the fantastic Civil War series.
So once....just once I want Pinewood to do the remake of Iwo Jima, ..Britains finest battle!!!! and then lets pull down the hatches and wait for the flack that will come our way from across the Atlantic. Then Hollywood would understand.
13th April 2004David Gardner
James,

Understand what you mean about Hollywood, as I said, its just about money for them-we are rightly proud of our history andd fear it's distortion.
However what annoys me is how fashionable it seems to be in my country, especially the liberal brigade, to condemn America.
13th April 2004Steven Sass
James,

The only way Hollywood would understand would be if "Iwo Jima, Britain's Finest Battle" did "great guns" at the box office. If that happened you'd see titles like "To Hell with the Revolution-Giving The Uppity Yanks What They Deserve" and "The Civil War As It Really Was-England Gives the Blue and the Grey A Sound Thrashing."

However until the money rolls in, it's not likely mate.
14th April 2004Roseanne

Julian--You've already seen The Alamo? I'm seeing it this weekend. What scenes in particular bothered you? I understand that the ending may be more accurate than depicted in earlier films, but that may have something to do with the recent discoveries at the Alamo site and additional historical research. Discoveries and research not available to the 1940's version. Did you feel the new film was closer to the truth?

To equate Hollywood with Goebbels/Nazis or Cold War Soviet propaganda seems a little far-fetched. I just can't quite compare Nazi films of racial purity with Zulu, The Patriot, etc. They just don't seem to be in the same league!!

Out-and-out lies in films should never be condoned such as the reference to U-571. That's altering history. Altering and/or changing history versus some of Hollywood's embellishments are two very different things. Exactly how did Hollywood alter or change the outcome of the film Zulu? Did the embellishments really alter the film so much as to make the history unrecognizable?

However, David's correct as far as I'm concerned--the embellishments are about money. If it wasn't about money, Sir Stanley Baker would never have gotten Zulu on the screen. It was Hollywood money combined with his own resources that got the film made and distributed. Did many or any British film industry moguls contribute money to the making of Zulu? Would it have been more accurate? When it comes to ticket sales, I don't think there's much difference between Hollywood or Pinewood moguls, do you? Strict historical accuracy may not equal profits to either of them.

I believe that many people who see historically-based films are going to do follow-up reading on the subject. If it wasn't for the film Zulu, I never would have read anything about Chard and Bromhead which spiraled into reading everything I can about British Victorian military history. How many people would know about Schindler and his metamorphosis without seeing Schindler's List? How many people would know about John Howard, his brave comrades and Pegasus Bridge without seeing The Longest Day? This "sparking of interest" is what makes these films so important. Granted, many films of this genre are "romanticized" to get tickets sold. There's a difference between entertainment and documentary films. Historial films might encourage you to go out and view documentaries for the "real" history (or some documentarian's view of that history.) Documentaries may not be totally accurate either.

Finally, I would rather not read the disclaimer so often referenced here--"Please don't think I dislike Americans--some of my best friends (and/or family) are American." There's just something about that statement. . . .

PS--Are there any American movies, military or otherwise, or American actors you guys like? (Sorry, wrong venue, but I just had to ask!)






















14th April 2004Simon Copley
Just a few obs
Could it be that they are a bit short of material, only having 230 years to play with? having said that I can't remember any films about 1812, Korea, Claire Chennault or Stilwell, and very few on WWI and only 1 about Bataan so there are some untapped sources still.

I think the Americans have produced some good thoughtful films, not at all gung-ho such as Patton, Platoon, Apocalypse Now. There are some really thoughtful American stuff in many genres (eg Simpsons).
14th April 2004Simon Copley
Just a few obs
Could it be that they are a bit short of material, only having 230 years to play with? having said that I can't remember any films about 1812, Korea, Claire Chennault or Stilwell, and very few on WWI and only 1 about Bataan so there are some untapped sources still.

I think the Americans have produced some good thoughtful films, not at all gung-ho such as Patton, Platoon, Apocalypse Now. There are some really thoughtful American stuff in many genres (eg Simpsons).
14th April 2004Sheldon Hall
Here we go again...

I'd like to make just a few points in response to some of those made above:

(1) It should be patently obvious that altering history for the sake of dramatic entertainment cannot be equated with the rewriting of textbooks and school teaching for purposes of propaganda. Of course ideology is an important factor in movie-making, but it's not the only one; nor is money the only other one. Artistic considerations have some bearing too, e.g. about what makes an interesting and involving story which can be told within the limited time and with the money available.

(2) Those people who boycotted U-571, or those who went and didn't stay till the end, will not have read the disclaimer at the head of the end credits in which it is stated that the film is a work of fiction inspired by three events during WWII, two involving the British, one the Americans. This is as honest an approach as anyone has the right to expect. Plus, the film is a damn sight better than the dreary, British-made ENIGMA...

(3) Pinewood is not a studio in the sense in which Paramount or Warner Bros is a studio, i.e. it is not a production-distribution corporation which finances films, but simply a "lot" (set of sound stages and related facilities) available for hire to anyone who wants to make films there. We no longer in fact have, in the UK, any comparable integrated studio corporation along the lines of the Hollywood model, which provides one reason why we find it difficult to match the US in terms of filmmaking (and distribution) resources.

(4) ZULU was financed entirely by American sources, viz Paramount and Joseph E. Levine's company Embassy. Stanley Baker did not pay for it, or any part of it, himself!
14th April 2004James Garland
Roseanne,
I don't have a problem with "Zulu" because although not strictly accurate in detail , the main thrust is correct. I distinguish between artistic licence and a complete rewrite of history. And yes there is an American movie maker I like.... Ken Burns.. although the "Civil war" and the "West" were documentaries I can't think of anyone who has done better. If only he were to make a documentary about the Zulu War it would be a masterpiece. He has the knack of being able to tell a historically accurate story without being boring.

Sheldon,
I think its fair enough to set a completely fictional story in a wider context such as "Gone with the wind" set in the Civil War but it seems to me to be a different matter when film makers take a historical event and completely re write it.That is going too far. I also think that film makers owe it to the participants in these great events to resist rewriting history. Can you imagine the furore if Spielberg released a film that depicted Germans being imprisoned in concentration camps by the Jews. Jewish people would rightly be incensed at such a travesty of history. So why do it to the British.
15th April 2004Edward Garcia
I would like to remind everyone to the fact that the movies made in Hollywood or anywhere else for that matter are just that - MOVIES. Anyone who gets his or her history from a film needs to do some serious intellectual soul searching. Movies are make believe. Moviemakers seldom “get it right” regardless if they are dealing with so-called history or fiction. In a sense this whole debate is somewhat pointless.

As far as the apparent anti-American opinion express by some contributors to this form regarding the seemingly inevitable catastrophe that a US produced Zulu remake would be, why has no one bothered to mention the British made depiction of the Zulu War as it appeared in Monty Python’s “The Meaning Of Life”? Not only was it historically inaccurate but it also depicted the Brits as a bunch of idiots. Perhaps this was all the result of Python’s American member Terry Gilliam.

But perhaps the point is moot since it is after all only make believe.
15th April 2004Sheldon Hall
There are, of course, limits to creative licence, but the very fact that it's impossible to imagine any filmmaker (American or otherwise) making the sort of inverted-history film about the Holocaust you describe (except, perhaps in jest - though it would make a very black comedy indeed; THE MEANING OF LIFE is pale grey by comparison, though at times very funny) suggests that almost all artists recognise that. But there is not and can never be such a thing as a wholly accurate historical dramatisation: even the most "faithful" recreations have to imagine (and therefore invent) how people looked, talked, dressed, etc, etc. The key question is where one draws the line between acceptable and unacceptable embellishment. In my view the line must be very fine and always flexible.
16th April 2004James Garland
Edward,
I think you're missing the point on two counts. first of all, there is a great difference between "not getting it right" and blatant misrepresentation, and secondly critisising one American institution i.e. Hollywood is not being Anti American. Or are you saying that to critisise anything connected with America is being "Anti American".
Sheldon,
I think what I find annoying about the U-571 film is that many of the real participants are still alive and to trash their experiences by blatantly misrepresenting events is disrespectful to brave men. Hollywood of course won't change but that shouldn't stop people like myself saying Its wrong.
Well I won't labour the point any more. I've said my bit.
16th April 2004Marc Jung
Well, it shoudn't be about who has misrepresented who, etc., the important thing is, whoever does it, there's nothing worse than stealing the laurels from someone else. Interesting points as ever guys. I find it more amazing that so many Americans don't see the real Alamo and American War Of Independence. With the latter,there's hardly any reference to the fact the French and other mercenaries helped them, nor the fact it was an unpopular war at 'home' - plenty of 'brits' were related to ,many of the new Americans so reluctant to fight. Washington, though a great politician, hardly ever won a battle over the British. Bunker Hill was renowned mainly because of the Americans' tenacity more than a victory.And at the Alamo, so many of the 'brave Texans' were actually Mexicans on the Americans' side! Again, this isn't anti-American sentiments, but it's obvious that it DOES go beyond 'Hollywood' when we find they don't regularly teach this in American schools - or correct me if I'm wrong, have/do they? Thanks.
16th April 2004Marc Jung
By the way, I for one am happy the Americans have always helped us - it's not a disclaimer - I wouldn't want anyone to misconstrue those comments!
16th April 2004Andrew Holliday
Movies are movies they are not history books. But, I don't think it is write when American soldiers in War films are made out to win it single handed. Take Saving Private Ryan for example, not one mention of British troops was mentioned, sometimes it is made out that Britain's army is bad and the Americans are good.
17th April 2004Steven Sass
Marc,

George Washington did not have to win every battle, just the ones that counted. Rather it is testament to Washington's undeservedly maligned military reputation that a force of clearly superiorly equipped, provisioned and supported troops failed at every opportunity to deliver the death blow. The real miracle was that Washington was able to keep together any sort of army, in the face of opposition from all corners, much less a first class combat force. If the result of the British victories was to not ulitmately defeat Washington, were they truly victories? The battles the Americans won, Princeton, Saratoga and Yorktown (yes there were others), were far more than tactical triumphs as they all came at crossroads of the Revolution and all affected the final outcome. When the tactical bloopers and indecisiveness of the British high command are examined, who on the British staff clearly outclassed Washington, Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne? No further comment required. According the historian Troyer Anderson, "any explanation of British failure...becomes a verdict upon the conduct of William Howe and his brother Admiral Richard Howe. Cornwallis, well he fell for the ruse that trapped him at Yorktown. One can argue when it comes down to small tactical considerations but the end result is obviously the most telling.

As to the question of mercenaries, where exactly did the Hessians muster out of, Brecon?

Regarding what is taught in American schools, I rather doubt that either educational system, American or British, is beyond reproach. I would be amazed if I could find a school anywhere that truly taught comprehensive and agenda-free history. If all else fails I suppose all of us unsophisticated, historically challenged and borderline illiterate colonials can all watch our "Patriot" DVD's to get our education.

Steven
17th April 2004ronclayton
steady the guards! hang on chaps when have we limeys [do you still call us that steven?] made a good filml about our civil war?anyhow our american cousins can rest assured that they are still very poupular over here and some of us enjoy winding up our radicals when they get foaming at the mouth over the US. Have you seen the Alamo film Steven? Its had a bad press over here.We have forgiven you over 'Objective Burma' but next I am over there [as George M Cohen put it] will you lot stopthinking I am a austrailian when I am a yorkshireman .
Cheers,

Ron
18th April 2004Steven Sass
Hi Ron,
No I've not seen the Alamo film as of yet. With some of the things I've been hearing I was planning to wait for it to show up on cable. However my six year old, who clearly has the intellectual edge on his father, has decreed I will be taking him. So in fairness I'll reserve comment until I've seen it.

No I've never used the term "limey." Contrarily I've always been somewhat of an Anglophile and have the ancestry as well. I had never been aware of some of the British attitudes towards Americans until I began to participate in this site. The strange thing is I've had many good people generously share their knowledge of the AZW with me, only to see dubious comments regarding Americans appear from the same chaps. I don't want to paint all with one brush because it would be untrue and unfair. It is however undoubtedly an issue with us as it seems we bloody Yanks are addressing it with relative regularity. Well at least things have progressed to a state of enlightenment as evidenced by the courteous inclusion of disclaimers prior to such statements.
"I really do love Americans, it's their malfeasant provincialism that really puts my knickers in a bundle!"

Cheers,

Steven
18th April 2004Steven Sass
Ron,
one other point regarding being mistaken for an Australian. About nine years ago I was sitting in an outdoor cafe in Venice and happened to overhear a conversation. It was between two men, the first proudly stated "I'm an American (he truly was a caricature) and then proclaimed to the other man (who did look very Paul Hoganesque), "you must be Australian." The second man looked a bit irritated and replied, "No I'm from New Zealand, no one ever admits they're Australian!" I can't say I got the joke but I laughed anyways.

Steven
18th April 2004Steven Sass
Andrew Holiday,

I apologize I was unable to reply off site but my e-mail currently will not allow me to send messages, only receive them. At the moment I don't know when the Alamo movie will open in Great Britain but I will try to find out. I would surmise that Sheldon Hall may be our best bet for the answer. Any information Sheldon?

Sorry to all if it appears I've turned this posting into my own personal forum.

Steven
18th April 2004James Garland
Steven,
If you have a brother that you love dearly, but who still irritates the hell out of you.
If you have a brother who's side you will always take in a playground fight but who you would argue with constantly yourself.
If you have a brother with whom you are always competing and so rareley acknowledge when he is acknowledge is better than you at something even if he really is.
Then you will understand how many of us can critisise Americans constantly whilst still being allies.
18th April 2004Peter Ewart
More than one American has come to the puzzling conclusion that we British enjoy insulting our best friends while praising our enemies.

I think it all comes down to "blood being thicker than water," although in the English-speaking world this probably applies a bit more to the Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis and Springboks than to the Americans, because Britishers were only one part of that particular melting pot, as indeed in S Africa. (Of course, we cannot presume that these feelings are reciprocated!)

I might go hammer and tong with, say, an Aussie on any subject over a pint, but would find myself taking his side as a matter of course against, say, that lot over there 25 miles from where I write, even though it would no doubt land me in hot water with our beloved new constitution.

Getting slightly off topic so I'd simply add here my disagreement with Wolsley's constitution of Zululand in 1879, and those of the 1887 and 1897 annexations. That should get me off the hook OK, although talking of annexations, we've got our work cut out to avoid the final annexation of these islands, n'est ce pas? It's later than we think.

Peter
18th April 2004Marc Jung
Steven,
Thanks for the reply, I'll bear all that in mind as always! Andrew, yes, with reference to 'Saving Private Ryan', whether or not it's a question of 'Americans good, British Bad' it always seems to stem from the most commercially viable thing. For example, a lot of you know, that David Puttnam's 'Memphis Belle' was originally intended to be about a British and perhaps commonwealth bomber squadron we would hope (I heard plenty of commonwealth accents/participants in all the 'Dambusters' documentaries) but of course to 'sell' it in America, Americans, being more numerous and having plenty more brat-pack stars i.e. more power at the box office. And some of our own productions, albeit a TV series (Cor this is going back a bit) The Protectors (Robert Vaughn) or say a film again, the Eagle Squadron and obviously American Cliff Robertson in 633 Squadron, or Henley (James Garner and also his chum Steve McQueen in The Great Escape when our American cousins didn't really figure so much in the escape) Money - need I go on???!
18th April 2004Marc Jung
And I wonder, did Washington really have that thick American accent in all the really 'bad' portrayls of him in TV movies?
18th April 2004Steven Sass
Well said gentlemen, by all. I think I'm starting to understand. If the chance ever comes I'll even buy the first pint...and probably the second as well.

Steven
19th April 2004Marc Jung
A lot of 'friendy fire' on here, eh?
19th April 2004Sheldon Hall
Steven,
I don't yet know of a UK release date for THE ALAMO. It may be in the next month or two, but the film performed badly in its opening weekend at the US box-office so, as with THE FOUR FEATHERS, it may be delayed or even go straight to video. I should take your son to see it asap before it disappears from theatres.

Marc,
David Puttnam's British-made, US-financed production MEMPHIS BELLE was always intended to be about an American bomber crew, as the title suggests. It is in fact a dramatised remake of a very good 1944 documentary, THE MEMPHIS BELLE, directed by William (BEN-HUR) Wyler. I remember interviewing the director of the 1990 version, Michael Caton-Jones (a Scot), when it came out, and he said the principal inspirations he kept in mind were Howard Hawks' 1943 film AIR FORCE and John Ford's 1946 Western MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (for the tone and for characterisation).
20th April 2004Marc Jung
Thanks for that, Sheldon, It was what I thought I'd heard! Marc
20th April 2004Arthur Bainbridge
Any film that was made which tried to belittle the USA would never be released in the USA.I also suggest that anyone who partook in this venture would be finished in the film industry.
21st April 2004Steven Sass
Arthur,

Do you live in the UK? I'm not sure why this is the case but it seems on that side of the pond the concept I described before is not easily understood. Overwhelmingly so, the vast majority of "stars," directors and producers are of a far left ilk and I would describe them as unpatriotic. As I said before some films need not hit the viewer over the head with a brick to subtly make their points. However, this attitude is not solely expressed in major motion pictures but also in documentaries and other programs masquerading as history on TV.

I would say this especially applies to films relating to the 19th century. The majority of Hollywood glitterati hate the fact that the country expanded westward and created civilization in its wake, although they are certainly among the chief beneficiaries of that expansion. A good example of this is "Dances With Wolves." In it, the blue coated troopers are to a man depicted as brutal buffoons, whereas all of the Indians are presented as brave and noble. Hardly a balanced portrayal.

Regarding being finished in the film industry, hardly. The more anti-American the film (so long as it's wrapped in a slick enough package so as to not make it completely overt, and this slick package manages to turn a profit) the more pats on the back will be bestowed by Hollywood insiders.

Unfortunately as most people either are comfortable enough or just apathetic enough for these films not to bother them, they will still pay to see these slick packages with the dubious underlying message.

Sometimes I think this complex the British have with the US (as discussed above) leads the British to believe we are all of one united psyche attempting to push our overblown and boorish will on the rest of the world. The reality could not be further from the truth. So sorry Arthur, I must disagree with you on this one.

Steven
21st April 2004Arthur Bainbridge
I do live in the UK I agree the left wing has a strong influence on our culture, I fail to see what dances with wolves has to do with anything, however concede that if a movie made lots of money the film business would endorse it with open arms,however i dont think the american audiences would flock to an unpatriotic movie.
21st April 2004Sheldon Hall
Steven,
The conservative paranoia which leads you to think that the entertainment industry is dominated by far-left subversives is not, you may be surprised to learn, shared by the academic community (itself predominantly of the left), which tends to see the industry (like most capitalist businesses) as dominated by conservative interests. Many of its creative personnel (like most artists) are liberal, and I imagine that, from a certain right-wing perspective, anything with a vaguely left-liberal tint must seem like pure red propaganda. There is certainly a good deal of political correctness around Hollywood, but anti-Americanism? A readiness to point out current social problems or inequities, or to portray the past in a less than flattering light, is not necessarily unpatriotic or subversive - unless you think that patriotism involves believing that everything is just fine as it is, or as it used to be (i.e. conservatism), or that anyone left of centre is by definition anti-American. I thought Americanism involved, as you say, tolerance of a variety of viewpoints, political and otherwise. If so, to want to suppress this (as you appear to do) is itself anti-American - or so it appears to my naive British eyes.

As for DANCES WITH WOLVES, need I point out that the hero is (at least at the beginning of the story) a blue-coat? That there is a tribe of "bad" Indians which the "good" tribe defeats in battle? Or that while the portrayal of the white soldiers may be "unbalanced" within the film, it does tend to balance out the overwhelmingly favourable presentation of them in films of the past (including some of my own personal favourites, such as John Ford's Cavalry trilogy)?
21st April 2004Steven Sass
Gentlemen please,

Perhaps I came off a bit too strong but I'm neither far right wing nor paranoid. I think one should be able to hold certain conservative views without being cast as Joe McCarthy. For myself I cosider myself a pragmatist and try to see events individually for what they are. I've always thought applying only one ideology to a situation or problem is both short sighted and impratical. I simply believe at this moment there is more wrong with the content of what comes out of Hollywood than what is right. This is not a view trumpeted by black shirted fanatics but one that is held by at least if not more than half of America.

For the record I've many friends in academia and entertainment with whom I (and presumably they as well) enjoy lots of lively and informative debate. Up to this point none have as of yet characterized me as a paranoid right wing conspiracist.

Sheldon, also for the record I do value your opinion even if we don't see eye to eye on this one.

Steven

21st April 2004Sheldon Hall
Steven,

"I've always thought applying only one ideology to a situation or problem is both short sighted and impractical": in this we are definitely in agreement! Hence I too value opinions and viewpoints different from my own. The variety of political opinions within Hollywood itself can surely be seen by the mixture of cheers and catcalls which greeted Michael Moore's Oscar acceptance speech (for Best Documentary, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE) at last year's Academy Awards ceremony, before an invited audience of members of the film and entertainment industry.

Thanks for your kind comments about myself; I also enjoy your contributions to the Forum. I'm not sure how you can know what half of America is thinking though...

Sheldon
21st April 2004Marc Jung
Certainly there is paranoia at the box office, gents. Take 'Red Dawn' for example. As Arthur says, if anything was 'negative USA' it wouldn't get anywhere there. Perhaps we'd be the same during our 'glorious' Empire too, some time ago. Thankfully, I'd like to think we've changed here, and as Sheldon says, without being negatively so-called left, or perhaps even right-wing it's just about establishing the facts. It was typical in post-war (Cold War even) America would love Red Dawn. (remember, to be a communist is illegal there. I wouldn't mind, but it was one of the most ghastly films ever made and no, I am NOT a 'commie-pinko' - it was just an awful film, yet, surprise, surprise, it was a success in America. But then if it was a good, well-made film,never mind the subject it wouldn't be SO bad. Now take, Zulu for example. A little bit of anti-war sentiment in a brave action film. Well-made, but not without certain criticisms from factual matters/descendants, etc. as we know (Not necessarily my opinion here) Exonerated by 'Zulu Dawn' maybe? Thanks.
23rd April 2004Steven Sass
I saw the Alamo movie yesterday and actually thought it was pretty good. The battle scenes are very good, especially the overview of the early morning attack. It's kind of like the charging the square scene in Four Feathers but goes on much longer. Historically, I didn't see too much that was glaring with the exception of Travis ordering the garrison to fire on the Mexicans prior to the raising of the "no quarter" flag. Every account I've read has the cannon shot as answer to the appearance of the flag. Crockett is executed in the end but he's not shown surrenduring willingly and remains defiant (Hopefully I'm not giving anything away as I've read what happens to Crockett in two reviews). I don't know enough about the weaponry of the period to comment on accuracy of that aspect.

From a stylistic standpoint I have two complaints. I found Dennis Quaids portrayal of Sam Houston somewhat overdone. Secondly I don't feel Santa Anna cuts a dashing enough figure. Perhaps I've got Raul Julia stuck in my head from an earlier version. If the filmmakers are aiming to knock some sheen off of legends, it's Santa Anna that takes the biggest hit. The treatment Crockett receives is in that vein but serves mostly to cause him to appear as a more human figure. Santa Anna is at the tail end of middle age (older than in reality I believe) and whilst he has nice uniforms, his personal appearance doesn't seem to reflect a man of great pride and vanity.

Overall it's definitely worth seeing and adding to the home library.

Steven
23rd April 2004John Young
Steven,

Thanks for that review - I take it that the British defenders were well represented, or has Hollywood forgotten them? Just kidding!

I'm looking forward to the release over here.

As to the firearms of the Mexican army, much of it was redundant British stock - Tower muskets & Baker rifles - sold off to the highest bidder post the defeat of Napoleon.

John Y.
26th April 2004Sheldon Hall
As it happens, RED DAWN was not a major commercial success in the US. It did only modestly well. According to my back copies of the American showbiz trade journal VARIETY (the most reliable source for box office figures), it placed joint 24th in the b.o. rankings for 1984; no. 1 for that year was GHOSTBUSTERS, which earned $127 million for its distributors. RED DAWN earned $17 million; mind you, this is a good deal more than the US earnings of ZULU and ZULU DAWN combined!
26th April 2004Marc Jung
Ta for that Sheldon. $17 million but a success after a very low budget methinks only!