eorge MacDonald Fraser of Flashman fame produced this fine little historian’s guide to movies in 1988 and happily revised in 1996 (which means Braveheart made it into the book (and, as a Scot, he slams it)).
Has it really been that long since that awful movie?
Regardless, this is a review of books, not movies. And this book, The Hollywood History of the World, is every bit as grand and wide-screen as the art it reviews (the pages measure 9”x9”). But Fraser sticks to his historical roots, moving chronologically (per history, not Hollywood) forward, from ancient times to the present. And in this, he looks at our movies and the history they tell our masses.
What is very interesting are the photographs supplied, comparing the actual protagonist of history and his backlot doppelganger. Some are spot on (Ben Kingsley as Gandhi) and some not so good. Yet even more importantly, there is the review of the actual story on the reels and in the books, a frank assessment of truth (oh, so fleeting these days). As mentioned earlier, everyone’s darling, Braveheart, gets ripped for historical inaccuracies galore. Sure, you might like it, but if you knew anything about history, you wouldn’t. And I don’t. For those reasons (after that movie came out, I went to the library (that quaint old place) and actually looked up William Wallace. Was this the same guy?)
So, yes, this is a great old book. It’s a shame Frasier has since passed away – I’d to have loved reading his cranky Scot’s prose as he ripped 300 (and that god-awful sequel they did).
As it was said in The Great Waldo Pepper, “Historians provide accuracy. Artists supply truth.”
A truth, I suppose. Or possibly an alternative fact.
What a world we’re in.