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"[Kubrick] insisted on a brutal realism in the war scenes and persuaded Douglas to add the final battle between the Romans and the slaves. The panoramic shots of the approaching Roman army took Kubrick a full week to shoot with the Spanish military."

What's more...

"The character scenes shot at Hearst Castle and on the Universal lot were no less difficult. It irked Charles Laughton that rival Laurence Olivier's salary was five times his own. The competition between the two actors became so fierce that Olivier required someone else to feed him his lines."

(From: George Lucas's Blockbusting, c2010 p.443)

Art imitates history, for had then been contemporaries the historical Crassus and Gracchi would certainly not have seen eye-to-eye on much of anything.


David Reinke
Burbank CA
Quote:Just saw the old Spartacus again... the best scene will forever remain seeing two legions march up the plains..... for real.

No CGI... nothing of the sort.

Not strictly true as the second Legion is simply a photographic copy of the first! A photo in the booklet of the film showing the real scene gives it all away. What is interesting is that for a brief moment when the music stops and before the troops come to a halt you can hear that "chink", "chink" of the equipment that we are all so familiar with.

Spanish soldiers took part in so many epics at that period that when Franco wanted to inspect some of his troops, he was told by his flustered Generals that he could not because they were making a movie for Samuel Bronston!

"Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream" Edgar Allan Poe.

"Every brush-stroke is torn from my body" The Rebel, Tony Hancock.

"..I sweated in that damn dirty armor....TWENTY YEARS!', Charlton Heston, The Warlord.
That distinctive "clink-clink" sound was made by a Foley artist using a key ring loaded with keys.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention, and in this case it worked beautifully.


David Reinke
Burbank CA
Finally saw Agora.
Liked it a lot. I know, it is not historically accurate and feeds into the Hypatia = martyr for reason legend, but from a dramatic point of view, I found it gripping. The sets are very cool, the acting is good to very good, the characters are nuanced (especially Davus the Slave, Orestes etc.).
It's refreshing to see a movie that emphasizes the power of reason, intellect and all that and doesn't expect its audience to be completely dumb.
Of course, there were only 5 other people in the theater when I watched it. "Jackass 3" is No. 1 in the U.S. right now. Signs of the times?
I'm impressed that you found Agora playing in an actual cinema.

It lasted barely a week here in LA (home of the movie industry) and then only in two theatres.

The same is true for Centurion, though it lasted for two weeks -- more action perhaps ...

:| ? |

David Reinke
Burbank CA
Yes, I was surprised as well. I had missed it in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago but it's playing at a small art-house theater not far from where I live, in Santa Rosa. Glad to see it on the big screen. Almost thought I would only see it on DVD.
I found a link to watch the movie Centurion a while ago, actually before it "came out", and didn't know if I was allowed to post things like that on here. It was free to watch, no downloading or anything, and actually not a bad "rip" of the movie. Think I still have the link saved on my other comp if I was allowed to link things like that, and if the good folks here that may have missed or it or actually want to see it again.
Aut Inveniam Viam Aut Faciam
"I\'ll Either Find A Way Or Make One" from Hannibal

John Pruitt
A great ancient period movie !
Hollywood - perhaps not surprisingly - doesn't do history very well.

What percentage of the Hollywood money-making business is actually concerned with accuracy, or fact, when there is a good story to be mistold?

Occasionally a good film appears. This might sometimes be financed with Hollywood dollars, but if filmed elsewhere and perhaps controlled by a more sensitive director with some integrity - then anything is possible ... even a good historic epic.

300 is a great film. But you have to appreciate it as a translation to the cinematic medium of the very graphic comic book work of Frank Miller. Its historic content is minimal. It is a reimagining. It is also a great expose of that type of genre and has more in common with the superb Sin City (also originally by Miller). My only quibble is that this bastard hybrid offspring of Tolkien and Herodotos might have stymied the creation of a real historic treatment of Thermopylai. The latter has been on the cards for many years, originally apparently being directed by Michael Mann with the likes of Bruce Willis and George Clooney both interested in appearing as Leonidas. Whether this will ever get started is anybody's guess.

But with modern digital technology we now live in an age when some of these great setpiece battles can be interpreted by cinema with full justice being done (as opposed to having to hire either the Spanish or Romanian armies for example to fill out the ranks). You only have to look at Jackson's The Lord Of The Rings trilogy to see the potential. This applies to any period of history where there is the need for massive movement of deployed forces.

My main quibble (as a Brit) about Hollywood is the basic anti-Britishness than is endemic with its output (and not just history). This is not a basic facet of your average American (who rather likes us) but it is certainly true of Hollywood producers, and it is simply insulting and infuriating. Perhaps the average American movie-goer is not aware of this, but some of the offerings in recent years have been so bad that it has resulted in debates in Parliament and even suggestions of boycotting certain releases or having them banned. I certainly believe the British Board of Film Classification should present them all with disclaimers. Without wishing to go into extended detail here I will merely provide these links to illustrate the point: ... 18209.html
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
Interesting articles -- thanks for the links.

Indeed, I think the British have good cause to be unhappy with Hollywood's re-writing of WWII into an 'American Only' epic, but they can hardly be surprised (look for example at how Shakespeare dealt with both Henry V and Richard III) nor do I think that the British have been singled out for any special ill-treatment by the Studios. Indeed, the opposite it often the case. If you want to add a degree of class, sophistication and gravitas to a production (or particularly a commercial) then cast a British voice. The accent alone denotes class to most American ears.

Of course, this can also work against them.

George Lucas wanted to avoid casting only British voices for the Imperial Officers and American voices for the Rebels but with filming Star Wars in England, he fell into the casting trap with the notable exception of Obi-wan Kenobi, played by Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor, who retained a distinctly British sounding accent. (Interestingly, McGegor's uncle, who played the Rebel fighter pilot Wedge Antillies in the original trilogy, uses a non-accented voice more akin to American than any other.)

But more to the point of Ancient History and Hollywood, indeed I fear you are correct -- the success of 300, as a film if not as history, may well preclude the translation of Steven Pressfield's book, Gates Of Fire, into a film. (Clooney optioned the book before its publication with the thought of either starring in or producing or both, however it has languished in Development Hell ever since.)

With regard to Saving Private Ryan, it did not really re-write WWII history -- in fact I would say it is an homage to Hollywood World War Two films. With the exception of the first 20 minutes or so, the film is riddled with all of the standard Hollywood cliches and tropes leading to a finale that is so "Hollywood Ironic" as to be almost laughable. I find Zanuck's 1962 war horse, The Longest Day, to be a far more interesting and ultimately enjoyable film.

But I digress...

In another thread on this Forum Graham Sumner made the following astute observation:

"However If Gladiator is the best then obviously a good script, great acting and high production values beat accuracy every time which in a way proves what the film-makers keep telling us, although it is rare that they do get all three."

<!-- l <a class="postlink-local" href="">viewtopic.php?f=18&t=30554<!-- l

In a 1995 interview writer / director John Sales spoke to this problem directly:

Foner: So what you're saying is, the way the movie industry is going now we're not likely to hear a lot of concern about historical accuracy.

Sayles: No, because coming up with the scenario that sells is the same as staying in office. You know, it's the difference between a leader and a politician.

Forner: And the stakes are so much higher now. You stand to lose a hundred million bucks instead of five million.

Sayles: I think the stakes were always the same, personally, for those guys: "Don't make a movie like this. It doesn't make money. If historical accuracy were the thing people went to the movies for, historians would be the vice presidents of studios. Every studio would have two or three historians.

Foner: Fortunately, or unfortunately, that doesn't seem likely to happen.

From: Past Imperfect - History According To The Movies c1995 ISBN: 0-8050-3759-4

Thus the enduring quality, and or box office success, of Gladiator, of 300, of Pvt. Ryan, and yes even Shakespeare's Richard III and Henry V (the latter now being made into a Science Fiction film).

If it is any consolation, one of my Top Ten favorite films is the Powell & Pressberger classic, The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp. Lots of people, including Winston Churchill, dislike that film, but it will always remain a favorite with me, historical accuracy be damned.


David Reinke
Burbank CA
Thanks for that reply Narukami (David).

I have lived and worked in the States on two different occasions, travelled widely, and was always met with friendliness, hospitality and generosity. My own experience of Americans (including some close chums and even girlfriends) towards me was to be considered as an obvious friend from a closely related and similar society. My views about the many Americans I have known, worked with and befriended remain almost totally positive with very good memories and still strong ties (even though I returned to the UK). The same applies to a few Canadians and Mexicans I met and one particular black guy from the Bronx whom I was very friendly with and who told me one day he actually had a British passport too! It seems his parents were both immigrants to NYC from the Bahamas.

But my attitude to Hollywood is different and it is a view widely held over here with considerable annoyance and bemusement considering we are supposed to be such great friends as nations ...

The anti-British thing remains prevalent. The bad guy usually has a British accent. I was watching the new version of the science-fiction show "V" the other night, and true to form they bring in this nasty mercenary terrorist (ex-SAS) with pointedly British/English accent. In fact the anti-Britishness is more strictly anti-Englishness. The accent is rarely if ever Scottish or Welsh and never Irish. The incidents of this kind of thing far too prevalent to be dismissed as one-offs and there are many examples to be found particularly when dealing with dubious individuals like Mel Gibson for example, whose laughable attempt at history with Braveheart bordered on the farcical and whose involvement with The Patriot also disturbing. The main problem with the latter film was that its German director (Roland Emmerich) outrageously created a scenario that had British soldiers rounding up colonial civilians into a church and setting fire to it - a disgusting reference for both the facts that; it was utterly untrue and without precendent in British military history; and that it was something that the German SS actually did in World War 2. The British army behaved in exemplary fashion during the American Revolution and in fact the most brutal acts that occured where always between American loyalists and patriots. )

If and when this new version of Colditz appears - and if it follows the path that seems most likely i.e. writing out the true escapes of the British, French, Dutch and Polish officers in favour of the entirely fictitious escapes of the (8) American POWs - then I will boycott it and encorage others to do likewise.

I don't know what led to this disturbing American cultural imperialism, but suggest it appeared at the time of Ronald Reagan when America started to go it alone. There was a time when Hollywood made plenty of films about other (non-American) themes - Robin Hood; the Roman Empire; the Three Musketeers; Genghis Khan; the Vikings etc. during the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s - but this all seems to have changed. I can't believe for the life of me that your typical American movie-goer really wants America, America, America and only America continually ramming down their throats. And why do Hollywood producers feel the need to do this? Do they think the domestic audience is too narrow-minded, too xenophobic, too jingoistic to allow anything non-American onto the menu? Do all the heroes have to be American (even in historic situations when they weren't even there)?

Perhaps American members of this forum might give me some answers because it is very disturbing and worrying and possibly might help explain America's isolationism in the world. When I lived there and watched TV most nights trying to catch some news - the one thing that never failed to amaze me was the total absence of any foreign news whatsoever on mainstream network viewing. And as for abominations like Fox News ... words fail me.

I seriously worry about the prospects of time travel entering this equation. It is only a matter of time before they latch on to it. Then we will see Robert E. Lee saving the day at Waterloo; Patton crushing the Saxons at Hastings; Pershing thrashing Charles I at Naseby and stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf destroying the Persians at Gaugamela! God knows who would be leading the Spartans at Thermopylai? Ulysses S. Grant perhaps? At least his first name would be [nearly] appropriate ...
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
There are more than one ethnic/religious group that Hollywood singles out for its abuse.

But hey, Romans always have English accents, too.... :lol: And the Rus comrade of Arthur (a very gag-me-with-a-spoon film) had an English accent if memory serves. We all know Russian ancestors spoke that way, right?

I've given up. I just don't go to many of their movies. If it gets good reviews from my peers, I rent or buy the DVD.
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
The accents in Oliver Stone's Alexander are also most peculiar. They vary between the lead actor's inability to disguise his Irish brogue and the weird Scots accents heard elsewhere. Apparently Stone reasoned the rough Makedonian patois of Northern/Dorian Greek could best be represented in this fashion! This logic of modelling ancient Greece on the British Isles would give Athenians cockney accents; Spartans west country dialects; Welsh would predominate around Olympia; scouse around Acharnania; with a distinct prevalence of Yorkshireman around Thessaly!!! :lol:
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
Quote:But hey, Romans always have English accents, too.... :lol:

Not the ones in the new Eagle of the Ninth ilm, it would appear! Still, at least they seem to have decided not to move the action of the Tripods Trilogy film to the US after all... :roll:
Carus Andiae - David Woodall

"The greatest military machine in the history of the universe..."
"What is - the Daleks?"
"No... the Romans!" - Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens
Just saw Centurion on DVD. My expectations were very low, so I was pleasantly surprised. Fun, fast-moving B movie plot, actors OK, great action scenes (a bit too violent for my taste, but I might be alone in that view). Nice to see Agricola in a movie for once, even though it wasn't historically the right time (117?).

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