There is a fashionable myth that Hollywood always gets its history wrong. George MacDonald Fraser believes that it often gets it right, and that we owe a huge unacknowledged debt to the cinema as an illuminator of the story of mankind. Drawing on his experiences as an historical novelist, historian, and screenwriter, he puts the case for the costume movies - Biblical, classical, swashbuckler, imperial, Western, and even the gangster film - not only as entertainments but, at their best, as pictures of the past "more vivid than Tacitus or Gibbon or Macaulay."
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Where history is concerned, Hollywood has often altered facts to suit filmmaking purposes, but filmmakers have sometimes been faithful to history as well. Examining seven admittedly idiosyncratic "ages," the author here juxtaposes what "actually happened" with illustrated examples of the Hollywood treatment. Looking at the Ancient World, he examines One Million Years BC , The Ten Commandments , Cleopatra and Quo Vadis , among others. For the chapter titled "Knights and Barbarians" he extols The Vikings , which "ought to be shown regularly to schoolchildren as a fine image of the distant past" and in "Tudors and Sea Dogs" praises Captain Blood for its truthful attention to the ethics of buccaneering. In "Romance and Royalty" Fraser laments the fact that Charles II, who led a perfectly filmic life, has never been adequately treated on celluloid. In the chapter on the British Empire he pays a backhanded compliment to Charge of the Light Brigade : "the script, holding nothing sacred, has plundered Indian Mutiny history at one pointand got it right." The Pilgrims, the Civil War, the old West, the roaring '20s, WW I and II and Vietnam are also examined in this arbitrary and opinionated, irreverent and immensely enjoyable study. Fraser is also the author of the Flashman series of (accurate) historical novels. Photos.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Writing in a witty and entertaining style, the authora novelist and screenwriterhere assumes the role of apologist for the historical film. He believes that this film genre has been unfairly maligned, and contends that ". . . nothing has been more influential in shaping our visions of the past than the commercial cinema." Fraser divides history into seven ages and compares films with the actual events upon which they are based, discussing the merits as well as the weaknesses of these films. Enhanced by numerous photos and laced with historical facts, movie trivia, and personal insights into filmmaking, this is lively and interesting. Robert Logsdon, Indiana St. Lib., Indianapolis
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Michael Joseph, 1989. Book Condition: Good. New Ed. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP9562109
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