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Al Murray: Watching War Films With My Dad

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/10399462/Al-Murray-watching-war-films-with-my-Dad.html

If ever you want to ruin something properly, and by ‘something’ I mean a war film, watch it with my father. Though actually, if ever you want to ruin something (I mean a war film again) properly and he’s not available you could always watch it with me. Maybe ‘ruin’ is a bit strong, but certainly derail, bouleverse, scupper, traduce would cover it. Neither of us can help ourselves. It just happens. Not doing it requires monumental self-control, actual lip-biting.

In our defence I think that it’s obvious why we can’t help ourselves and that really it’s not our fault at all. Because war movies contain representations of real events, real equipment and of course real people, they are ripe, low-hanging fruit for the very worst kind of nit-picky pedantry. And the worst kind is the kind that fills you with a morbid thrill of the delight at being right.

..

However, no matter how wrong the Leopard might be in A Bridge Too Far it’s not like the story-shattering and mind-bending Battle of the Bulge, a true classic of who-cares-what-really-happened film-making. Don't get me – or my Dad – started on that...

Al Murry having a proper HPC type rant over the things that matter.

Always tough trying to make a war film as there isn't loads of old equipment you can you use. There's not many WWII ships left.

Rory2

• an hour ago

Thankfully, the Battle of Britain was made while suitable if not exact versions of the Second world War era aeroplanes were available. The only major historical error -- which could not have been known in 1969 as the information was embargoed by the 30 year rule -- is that the alleged dispute between AVM Trafford Leigh-Mallory (of 'Big Wing' fame ) and AVM Keith Park (of the Flexible Foursomes) was pure counter-intelligence disinformation to disguise the fact that RAF 12 Fighter Group Hawker Hurricanes (cannons on a wing) were being held back for the killer blow that incinerated the Luftwaffe from the 15th of September 1940 onwards. The staggering losses of Nazi pilots and the PTSD suffered by many of those who survived the September-October Big Wing offensive inflicted enormous damage of the efficacy of the Third Reich's war-making capacity. The Battle of Britain was perhaps the best war film since 1953's 'The Cruel Sea'. None to match it since, although the US-Japanese film 'Tora, Tora, Tora' reconstruction of the Pearl Harbour attack deserves an honourable mention.

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Thanks for that - I'm a huge fan of war films. My personal favourite is Waterloo - "Scum, the lot of 'em"

Interesting about the 30 year rule. I believe it also affected the Dambusters, as they got the bouncing bomb wrong due to the details still being classified.

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The only major historical error -- which could not have been known in 1969 as the information was embargoed by the 30 year rule -- is that the alleged dispute between AVM Trafford Leigh-Mallory (of 'Big Wing' fame ) and AVM Keith Park (of the Flexible Foursomes) was pure counter-intelligence disinformation to disguise the fact that RAF 12 Fighter Group Hawker Hurricanes (cannons on a wing) were being held back for the killer blow that incinerated the Luftwaffe from the 15th of September 1940 onwards. The staggering losses of Nazi pilots and the PTSD suffered by many of those who survived the September-October Big Wing offensive inflicted enormous damage of the efficacy of the Third Reich's war-making capacity.

That comment is pretty much total c0ck, from beginning to end.

edit (for unprofessionalism in not explaining myself):

Hurricanes weren't equipped with cannon until the MkII. I think something like a total of two cannon-armed prototypes were in service at the time of the BoB

The mutual dislike between Park & Dowding and Leigh Mallory & Bader is documented and both Park & Dowding got knifed in the back shortly after the BoB, probably by Leigh Mallory & Bader*

The Big Wing didn't inflict massive casualties on the Luftwaffe, though Bader & Leigh Mallory claimed loads

The Big Wing wasn't held back for a killer blow. It just kept turning up too late to fight the attacking Germans because it took too long to assemble. It only started to actually encounter Germans later in the BoB because the Germans started flying further inland after splattering 11 Group's airfields (partly because 12 Group wasn't protecting them adequately)

The Big Wing wasn't an offensive tactic and the BoB barely scratched Germany's war making capacity

There's more but I can't be @rsed

edit#2: * I just checked on the current received wisdom on whether Leigh Mallory connived to give Park & Dowding the shaft after they helped avoid Britain's defeat in the BoB and...

The political intrigues within the Air Ministry, particularly the activities of Leigh-Mallory and Sholto Douglas, led to the replacement of Dowding and Park on 25 November 1940, two months after the British victory. Leigh-Mallory replaced Keith Park at No. 11 Group, and Sholto Douglas replaced Dowding at Fighter Command.[8] When the official history of the Battle of Britain was published, Dowding's name was not mentioned, leading Churchill to minute Sinclair: "This is not a good story... The jealousies and cliquism which have led to the committing of this offence are a discredit to the Air Ministry."

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/10399462/Al-Murray-watching-war-films-with-my-Dad.html

Al Murry having a proper HPC type rant over the things that matter.

Always tough trying to make a war film as there isn't loads of old equipment you can you use. There's not many WWII ships left.

He is right about the film the Battle of the Bulge being a shocker for getting both the history and the weaponry so wrong. The German tanks don't even look vaguely like Tigers and Panthers while the Ardennes appears to have lost all its forest (not surprisingly as the film was shot in Spain) and the snow that covered the ground in that part of Europe during the winter of 1944-45 .

Mind you I get the same way about gardens in films

The sight of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy walking through Pemberley (Lyme Park) in the TV production of Pride and Prejudice with a herbaceous border in the background is enough to drive me to apoplexy at the historical horticultural inaccuracy of the scene The grass also looks obviously as though it has been cut with a lawn mower right down to the stripes

And don't get me started on the recent TV version of the Tudors where Henry VIII and his various wives ride around in Victorian carriages

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/6005582/BBC-period-show-The-Tudors-is-historically-inaccurate-leading-historian-says.html

They simply could not be ars*d to get it even vaguely right

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He is right about the film the Battle of the Bulge being a shocker for getting both the history and the weaponry so wrong.

Battle of the Bulge is the Daddy of inauthentic war films.

U-571 is a strong contender as well though.

Mind you I get the same way about gardens in films

:lol:

Chase scenes set in London, teleporting miles between each cut, for me.

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Battle of the Bulge is the Daddy of inauthentic war films.

U-571 is a strong contender as well though.

If you're looking for inaccurate history, I give you one word. Braveheart.

Here's a good analysis of the errors that are contained in the first 2 minutes of the film. After that, I suspect the historian gave up!

http://medievalscotland.org/scotbiblio/bravehearterrors.shtml

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If you're looking for inaccurate history, I give you one word. Braveheart.

Here's a good analysis of the errors that are contained in the first 2 minutes of the film. After that, I suspect the historian gave up!

http://medievalscotland.org/scotbiblio/bravehearterrors.shtml

The movie that gave you the Battle of Stirling Bridge ... without the Bridge. Genius.

I don't think Mel Gibson likes the English very much. How about that scene in The Patriot when the English lock everyone in a church and burn it down SS style. Nice.

Both pre Iraq War 2 though, Hollywood has been kinder to the English when rewriting history since.

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U-571 is a strong contender as well though.

Ah yes. The story of how the Americans won the war by breaking the Enigma Code.

"The Great Escape" is another film that throws authenticity into the cooler, in favour of Hollywood spin. There were no Americans involved in the actual escape, they had all been transferred several months before the tunnel was completed, although they did help with the tunnelling and escape preparations.

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War films are just that, not documentaries. I quite like to see German dispatch riders on a Norton! :huh:

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Not so much of a war film, but a war was on and was heavily refferenced in the film is Lincoln the Vampire Hunter, i think this film might not be authentic but i cant quite put my finger on what though.

Other war films i like are the Star Wars set (set a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away)

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Not so much of a war film, but a war was on and was heavily refferenced in the film is Lincoln the Vampire Hunter, i think this film might not be authentic but i cant quite put my finger on what though.

Other war films i like are the Star Wars set (set a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away)

WW2 is like that to me. Almost fiction. I went to Germany once, and only had to "show my papers" at the airport! Nobody called me a "Filthy Tommy", despite my RAF overcoat! :blink:

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War films are just that, not documentaries. I quite like to see German dispatch riders on a Norton! :huh:

To be fair war films were quite hard to fake before CGI as most of the battle scenes were too big to be shot in a studio and the kit was hard to replicate.

There is no excuse for modern historical costume dramas like the recent Tudors being so crap. They can not use the justification that they had to use old military knock offs for why they obviously dressed Henry VIII and his court in costumes items that would not have been worn until Elizabeth I reign. It takes some effort to get the wardrobe department to fabricate clothes from the wrong period. They also could have spent some of their obviously multi million pound budget at least making some token efforts to make the carriages look like they came from the early 16th century. And as for Henry VIII he was clearly dying his hair and attending weight watchers at the end of his life if you believe the portayal of the character in that drama.

At least Keith Michell looked a bit like Henry

more-henry-viii_9_157064183.jpg

Unlike Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Tudors-Season-4-3.jpg

Though on suspects Charles Laughton got closest

henry8parham.jpg

charles-laughton-1.jpg

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I never spot these errors in films, because I follow he story! If the Centurion is wearing a Casio digital watch, so what? :blink:

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I never spot these errors in films, because I follow he story! If the Centurion is wearing a Casio digital watch, so what? :blink:

I don't mind inauthenticity if it the drama is making some serious attempt to tell a story or if it is simply an editing error (accidental shots of drainpipes, watches, aircraft vapour trails etc|)

What pisses me off is when they are obviously trading on the costumes, the sets, the locations and the scenery for commercial return but can not be ars*d to get those things vaguely correct

In the 1960 the BBC did a couple of superb portrayals of the Wars of the Roses which was loosely based on Shakespeare's plays covering that conflict. They did not attempt to reproduce the Bard word for word and the drama was entirely shot on simple but imaginative TV sets. It was a complete work of fiction which still managed to be a profound depiction of the age

By contrast the recent production Tudors was just Dallas in costume. They may as well have let Henry drive around in a Ferrari

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I don't mind inauthenticity if it the drama is making some serious attempt to tell a story or if it is simply an editing error (accidental shots of drainpipes, watches, aircraft vapour trails etc|)

What pisses me off is when they are obviously trading on the costumes, the sets, the locations and the scenery for commercial return but can not be ars*d to get those things vaguely correct

In the 1960 the BBC did a couple of superb portrayals of the Wars of the Roses which was loosely based on Shakespeare's plays covering that conflict. They did not attempt to reproduce the Bard word for word and the drama was entirely shot on simple but imaginative TV sets. It was a complete work of fiction which still managed to be a profound depiction of the age

By contrast the recent production Tudors was just Dallas in costume. They may as well have let Henry drive around in a Ferrari

Surely a 1934 Whitley-Sprogworth Flying Bucket roadster would have been better? :angry:

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Surely a 1934 Whitley-Sprogworth Flying Bucket roadster would have been better? :angry:

To be honest the Tudors is pretty trivial and my irritation with it is not important (ditto Pride and Prejudice).

The inaccurate portrayal of battles in war films when many of the combatants are still alive is more of a tricky moral issue

Hollywood loves to recycle conflict as copy as we have seen recently with films about the 2nd Iraq War but it needs to be done with some care.

At lot of soldiers who experienced the Battle of the Bulge and who saw friends killed and maimed during it were not exactly enamoured of the slap dash way the 1965 film portrayed it. Eisenhower even came out of retirement and held a press conference to denounce it. The veterans of the Bulge were much better served by the presentation of their experience in Band of Brothers but sadly by then too many were dead to appreciate it.

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Both pre Iraq War 2 though, Hollywood has been kinder to the English when rewriting history since.

You mean like in Argo where we nastily didn't let those that escaped the hostage crisis in and turned them away?

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By contrast the recent production Tudors was just Dallas in costume. They may as well have let Henry drive around in a Ferrari

Anne Boleyn in that though.... I mean, even I'd join the church of england if it meant I was in with a shout there.

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Ah yes. The story of how the Americans won the war by breaking the Enigma Code.

"The Great Escape" is another film that throws authenticity into the cooler, in favour of Hollywood spin. There were no Americans involved in the actual escape, they had all been transferred several months before the tunnel was completed, although they did help with the tunnelling and escape preparations.

Churchill The Hollywood Years

Even in this I thought they failed to take the p155 properly, a great idea just badly written.

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There has to be some line between geekish obsession with the smallest detail and not having a Roman army equipped with modern weapons. A basic attempt at getting things looking mostly right is certainly required. There's the same problem with other genres, science fiction in particular, where some people seem tolerant of any old crap being invented on the spot by people who clearly haven't got a clue what they're talking about (I don't mind some being invented in the setup, for example if they want to be able to get to other worlds).

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Crikey! I hope they are not history majors. :blink:

Maybe chemists, who never read a book? ;)

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