Historical movies and TV series often catch flak for “taking liberties” or “dramatic license” in their interpretation of historical facts. At least for some of you, that was a key line to hold: a good historical movie is an accurate historical movie.
SARAH: In attempting to evaluate the historical accuracy of a movie, attention much be focused on specific criteria while keeping in the mind the time limitations of film. While details may be omitted due to constraints, historically accurate films do not seek to oversimplify an event and instead stay focused on the complexity of the past. A particular agenda should also not be apparent, and facts and details should not be ignored in an effort to merely get the attention of the audience.
MATT: Assessing historical movies and or TV series must begin with the essential question of accuracy. Is what the director of the adaptation actually accurate to what historical study tells us regarding the specific time and/or place and/or figure true? Often we consume something that we believe to be historically accurate, that ends up being merely historically inspired. With this in mind, I believe that the primary criteria for assessing historical movies and TV series must being with the accuracy of that which is being betrayed…. While based on and in a historically true family and location, Medici: Masters of Florence is not a historically accurate television series, [c-creator Frank] Spotnitz himself says that “We begin the show with ‘what if’…” which is a dead giveaway on the historical inaccuracy of the show. While it paints a true and accurate picture of the location, and possibly even the culture of the Medici family and dynasty, it is certainly not telling a historically accurate story thus failing the standards I set forth above.
SHAWN: The two things that would take to assess a historical movie or a tv show would be “Historical accuracy” and “ Historical detail.” The two might sound more of the same, but the difference are that accuracy in a movie is trying to bring back to life what had happened in the past accurately. With detail, the movie or the TV show is trying to show the detail of the even from the past and not just an overlay of a certain event, this is trying to show the whole picture and not just parts of the whole story. Also within detail being able to have the scene in the movie look like the same location or be the same location is key.
What’s the most accurate historical movie you’ve seen? (How do you know it’s accurate? How closely do you investigate this before or after you watch something?) Do you take Shawn’s point about the difference between “accuracy” and “detail”?