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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old January 9th, 2018, 07:30 PM   #1

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Reasonably Accurate Medieval Movies


I'd like to know what movies you feel are reasonably accurate about medieval western Europe, around the 11th to 14th centuries. Even if the movie is incorrect in certain areas, it may be correct in other areas. So feel free to offer comments on what to pay attention to and what to ignore.

For example, I watched The Name of the Rose yesterday and am under the impression they mostly got it correct.
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Old January 10th, 2018, 01:32 AM   #2

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Except that Name of the Rose is fiction. So hard to get wrong!

A lot of Hollywood movies - especially in the heyday of Hollywood, seem to combine some surprisingly accurate stuff with some absolute bunkum. Nowadays it can just be all bunkum (Troy, Alexander, Braveheart)

I think it's originally because they would have a historical adviser, but then rip it all up at times because the scriptwriters or director didn't like it for the audience.

'El Cid' is probably a classic of such a film. It sort of conveys the fact that Spanish Christians and Spanish muslims bot had to fight the invading menace of the black-veiled, black-hearted Almoravids from Africa. It conveys his exiles from Castille but gets the reasons wrong, it shows his little daughters and the wife's exiles but leaves out the son, Diego. Worst of all it gives him the Hollywood ending of death in battle, which he certainly didn't!
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Old January 10th, 2018, 02:47 AM   #3

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One good movie is "Il mestiere delle armi"
Il mestiere delle armi (2001) - IMDb
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Old January 10th, 2018, 03:11 AM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnincornwall View Post
Except that Name of the Rose is fiction. So hard to get wrong!
Sorry. I should've been clearer. I don't mind the fiction of the story if the lifestyles and technology are correct.
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Old January 10th, 2018, 03:28 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowRain View Post
Sorry. I should've been clearer. I don't mind the fiction of the story if the lifestyles and technology are correct.
Thought you might. They make it up mostly I think. One problem is that people didn't write about mundane things like what people wore.
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Old January 10th, 2018, 04:12 AM   #6

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General rule of thumb: Everything in the movies is WRONG. Now, once in a while, something more or less accurate might slip in by accident, but please don't let that spoil your enjoyment of the film.

Clothing and visual settings are the EASIEST thing for a movie-maker to get right, there are COUNTLESS pictoral and written sources. Even if a producer used nothing better than a dodgy $15 Osprey book for his costume and armor guide, he'd be making the most historically accurate movie ever. I suspect that explains the basically good look of Alexander. I haven't seen much else that even comes close.

But accuracy is going to be even farther out the window in regards to plot and character motivations, WHY people do what they do. These days, historical movies are basically modern socio-political commentary mashed into an ancient setting, completely trampling the actual events and mindsets of the time. No, Spartacus and William Wallace were NOT screaming "FREEEEEEDOOOOOOMMMM!!!!" as their battle cries, in fact they would have laughed or been horrified at our modern concepts of freedom. You simply can't have historical people chanting modern buzzwords and call it history. Things were DIFFERENT back then.

Admittedly, I just haven't seen many "medieval" movies lately, but the stills and clips that have gone around are generally appalling. Or utter fantasy.

Stick with "Game of Thrones."

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Old January 10th, 2018, 11:37 AM   #7

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With all the caveats mentioned above by others some of the films that I feel (and it's a purely personal opinion) come closest to representing something of the medieval with a degree of conviction.

'The Hour of the Pig' (AKA 'The Advocate') The Advocate (1993) - IMDb
'Blanche' Blanche (1971) - IMDb
'Le Retour de Martin Guerre' The Return of Martin Guerre (1982) - IMDb
'Andrei Rublev' (which is a stone cold masterpiece whether it's 'accurate' or not) Andrei Rublev (1966) - IMDb
'Perceval le Gallois' Perceval le Gallois (1978) - IMDb


A special mention to 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) - IMDb

Unfortunately every production designer on a medieval movie since 'Holy Grail' has taken the line about the King being 'the only one who hasn't got s**t all over him' as gospel. Consequently most recent medieval movies all foreground s**t at the expense of putting a bit of thought into it.
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Old January 11th, 2018, 03:15 AM   #8

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Flesh and Blood was always a bit grim I thought. No idea how accurate it was on the Condottierri period in Italy.
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Old January 11th, 2018, 06:32 AM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnincornwall View Post
Flesh and Blood was always a bit grim I thought. No idea how accurate it was on the Condottierri period in Italy.
From what I recall, it was pretty much the exact opposite of history. Fun, though!

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Old January 11th, 2018, 07:14 AM   #10

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"The Lion in Winter" is alright if you don't look too closely at it.
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