Re: Celts, Mohicans, and Anglo-Saxons

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Posted by Tom Kilbane on October 30, 1997 at 21:20:05:

In Reply to: Celts, Mohicans, and Anglo-Saxons posted by Elaine on October 28, 1997 at 20:34:57:


Points well taken. I am entirely of Irish descent and a Catholic so any "diss" of the English is fine with me. I wasn't "irked" that the facts of the romance between Wallace and the Princess were off but that it "dumbed down" movie and undercut his romance with his wife. It was a bad idea on the part of the screenwriter to include it and the fact that is completely false make it even worse.

As for the historical accurcy of "Braveheart" and "Last of the Mohicans" or just any period film I think it is ridiculous to hold films true to the facts of history-- they are works of fiction. I have read posts on other board that just pilloried LOTM for it historical lapses. Most of these were written by French and Indian War reanactors who were angered by the "evil" way the English were portrayed, the film's "Pan-Indian nationalism", and every costume quibble you could imagine such as the fact British artillery officers wore blue coats not red. In the book called "Past Imperfect: History according to Hollywood" LOTM was dismissed by a history scholar as "a well-meaning but silly movie." I wonder how can anyone take LOTM as historically accurate since it is based on a 19th century novel and a 1936 screenplay and, with few exceptions, every event and character is fictional.

LOTM was not made to inform but to entertain. Mann wanted to provide a romantic picture of the past and create a throwback to the swashbuckler movies of the 1930's. If details such as the British artillery officers wore blue instead of red (Mann was quite aware of this detail along with many others since well-meaning reanactors informed him of this) and these details conflicted with the romantic picture Mann was trying to relate then those details were ignored. In LOTM the British wear red, the French wear white, and the Indians have "mohawk" haircuts just the way people imagined they did. As I said above, films are works of fiction. If, by chance, they use a story to tell us a greater truth about ourselves and our past then they have succeeded as art. If they give us a momentary diversion and make us smile or tug at our heart, then they have succeeded admirably at what they are-- popular entertainment. I think Mann created a wonderful romantic picture of the past and as entertainment his film triumphed on most levels.

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