Historical Blindness?

MovieBob

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Historical Blindness?

American Sniper, Selma, The Imitation Game... What's with all the controversy over this year's historical films?

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SonOfVoorhees

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The Imitation Game wasnt a film about him being gay or how he got treated because of it. So why would they put that stuff in it? Be the same if the movie was all about how he was treated because he was gay yet left out all his computer achievements.
 

Knoxy

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SonOfVoorhees said:
The Imitation Game wasnt a film about him being gay or how he got treated because of it. So why would they put that stuff in it? Be the same if the movie was all about how he was treated because he was gay yet left out all his computer achievements.
Or given that's it's a biopic about the person, it might be best if it was honest about all aspects of that persons life and not just the ones that sell best...
 

Sigmund Av Volsung

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SonOfVoorhees said:
The Imitation Game wasnt a film about him being gay or how he got treated because of it. So why would they put that stuff in it? Be the same if the movie was all about how he was treated because he was gay yet left out all his computer achievements.
Because it gives them easy Oscar Points without having to all the way of exploring Turing's sexuality in any meaningful way?

At least Grand Budapest doesn't suffer from these kinds of missteps :p

Loved that movie.
 

Dragonlayer

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SonOfVoorhees said:
The Imitation Game wasnt a film about him being gay or how he got treated because of it. So why would they put that stuff in it? Be the same if the movie was all about how he was treated because he was gay yet left out all his computer achievements.
Because it would be like making a film about Leon Trotsky's creation of the Red Army and shooting the whole thing as a self-contained achievement of organisation, free of any wider historical context. It would be disingenuous to reduce said context to a mere ending black screen with the subtitles: "Leon Trotsky created the Red Army to win the Russian Civil War and crush anti-Bolshevik elements. He would later get an ice-pick that made his ears burn for his troubles."

OT

I haven't seen Selma so I'm not sure how it depicts LBJ but is it fair to say that *if* it has indulged in "mere" narrative simplification, it's an acceptable sacrifice for sake of drama? In any historical work, let alone one as seemingly sensitive as American race relations, the tiniest change for the sake of narrative can turn any figure into a complete bastard and send the wrong message.
 

vid87

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Dragonlayer said:
I haven't seen Selma so I'm not sure how it depicts LBJ but is it fair to say that *if* it has indulged in "mere" narrative simplification, it's an acceptable sacrifice for sake of drama? In any historical work, let alone one as seemingly sensitive as American race relations, the tiniest change for the sake of narrative can turn any figure into a complete bastard and send the wrong message.
I haven't either but, judging from the descriptions of all three, it sounds like the least egregious change even if it's still technically disrespectful.

The last line quote of the article feels like an (not deliberately intended) oxymoron as the truths being altered usually ARE the good story - it should really read, "Never let the truth get in the way of a safe bet."
 

K12

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I haven't seen Imitation Game but it's ridiculous that a film about Alan Turing doesn't feature his suicide or the events that drove him to it.

That's like "Lincoln" having no assassination or "Cool Runnings" were the Jamaicans win the gold... that was a weird second example.
 

Scorpid

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SonOfVoorhees said:
The Imitation Game wasnt a film about him being gay or how he got treated because of it. So why would they put that stuff in it? Be the same if the movie was all about how he was treated because he was gay yet left out all his computer achievements.
At the very least its a narrative misstep. I mean its VERY dramatic that the guy that helped the war so tremendously for his government was punished by that same government so severly for a "crime". Also this is probably going to be THE Alan Turing movie so including the most important details of his life is very important. I mean if you do a WWII Movie you can leave out the pacific war, or the war in the east/west, because there will be tons of other movies that do it. But I don't imagine there will be alot of interest in Hollywood to redo Alan Turing biopic for decades maybe even in our lifetime. So getting the whole story is more important than with other WWII movies.
 

josemlopes

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SonOfVoorhees said:
The Imitation Game wasnt a film about him being gay or how he got treated because of it. So why would they put that stuff in it? Be the same if the movie was all about how he was treated because he was gay yet left out all his computer achievements.
I think the problem is the campaign around it where they use the film to show how progressive the movie is where in fact the movie seems to avoid that part of his life.

At least that is what I got from the article
 

MovieBob

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josemlopes said:
SonOfVoorhees said:
The Imitation Game wasnt a film about him being gay or how he got treated because of it. So why would they put that stuff in it? Be the same if the movie was all about how he was treated because he was gay yet left out all his computer achievements.
I think the problem is the campaign around it where they use the film to show how progressive the movie is where in fact the movie seems to avoid that part of his life.

At least that is what I got from the article
From the start the movie was actually promoted as the long awaited biopic for alan turing. If you were at all interested in the film early on it was primarily for that reason. Second as stated yeah this is a "gay" film because it's about a guy whos gay, but they skip over the "gay stuff".

The sad part about Bob worrying that American sniper is reshaping the historical view of the IRAQ war is that he needn't bother. Most Americans, whether they agree it was bad or not have already moved on. We stop caring about it about 3 years ago. It was just a thing that happened and not enough americans died for us to continue being beat up about it. Now we care about whatever Obamas up to and the superbowl. The American memory drops off about every 3 seconds. Oh and don't forget MARCH MADNESS IS COMING!
 

medv4380

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You lost me the second you wrote that The Imitation Game glossed over the tragedy of Alan Turing. The ignorance seething from that comment. There is actually a controversy about his alleged suicide, and that the facts are equal in weight in drawing the conclusion that it was an accidental Cyanide poisoning. The movie covers this in the first few minutes by showing that he had cyanide in his home which he had for actual experiments.

The important parts of the tragedy are covered in as much detail as most people can stomach. Chemical Castration is pretty nasty, but I don't think adding the growing boobs due to the estrogen they were forcing him to have would have added to any of it.

The Big parts that the movie got wrong was the Russian Double Agent did exist, but there is no evidence he was any where near Turing. And the entire we're using statistics to judge who lives and dies is actually the Churchill story that everyone is familiar with pared down to include Turing, and much of the cast of the movie without adding an actual actor to play Churchill.

The actual TRAGEDY of Turing is that Hollywood did this move a decade ago titled Enigma, and with the most offensive slap to Turing's legacy they wrote him 100% out of the story.
 

V4Viewtiful

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piscian said:
The sad part about Bob worrying that American sniper is reshaping the historical view of the IRAQ war is that he needn't bother. Most Americans, whether they agree it was bad or not have already moved on. We stop caring about it about 3 years ago. It was just a thing that happened and not enough americans died for us to continue being beat up about it. Now we care about whatever Obamas up to and the superbowl. The American memory drops off about every 3 seconds. Oh and don't forget MARCH MADNESS IS COMING!
This reminds me of what the King wrote when America declared/won independence

"Nothing of Importance happened today" - King George III :p
 

BroJing

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Bobs point about relegating LBJs contribution seems a little disengenious when put up against how much he is opposed to Eastwood sanding off the edges of Chris Kyle.

I don't agree with Kyles politics either, but you can either alter history in cinema to make a point or you can't, Bob seems annoyed by Fox News appropriating Kyle for Bush/Cheneys legacy but all too eager to throw LBJ under the bus for the sake of Kings.
 

Kingjackl

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The impression I got from that 'Big Gay Lie' article cited as evidence of The Imitation Game sweeping Turing's sexuality under the rug is that the authour wouldn't have been happy with any concession the film took. To say the film glossed over that aspect of Turing's life is ludicrous, but the fact that it chose to focus on his work on Enigma while keeping his adult sex life in the background is a minor problem at worst.

The film definitely doesn't try to hide anything about his sexuality, and the message that homosexuals were treated horribly back in those days is made pretty clear. So, if the HRC want to use that film to campaign for gay rights, they're welcome to it. Why are we even upset that they are?

That said, there are some pretty shocking historical inaccuracies apart from that. From what I've heard, the big stuff is that the film overdoes the importance of Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley's character), Turing never worked with the Soviet spy, and the commanding officer was actually supportive of Turing and his work, as opposed to being Tywin Lannister in all but name.
 

SnakeTrousers

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BroJing said:
Bobs point about relegating LBJs contribution seems a little disengenious when put up against how much he is opposed to Eastwood sanding off the edges of Chris Kyle.

I don't agree with Kyles politics either, but you can either alter history in cinema to make a point or you can't, Bob seems annoyed by Fox News appropriating Kyle for Bush/Cheneys legacy but all too eager to throw LBJ under the bus for the sake of Kings.
The thing is, Kyle is the main character of his movie, not part of the supporting cast. I think that's kind of a big distinction.
 

deathbydeath

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MovieBob said:
But the swatting at Selma feels puzzlingly nitpicky - the complaints coming down to people demanding to know why a supporting character in the story isn't the star.
You be wrong Bob. Selma all but ignored [http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2015/01/03/on-selma-and-the-sidelining-of-ralph-david-abernathy/] Ralph David Abernathy, King's right-hand man who stood alongside him every step of the way. Every time King entered the White House Abernathy came with him, except in Selma where King always visited Johnson alone. Not only that, but there's suspicions [http://nypost.com/2014/12/21/how-mlks-right-hand-man-was-erased-from-history/] that Abernathy was left out of Selma (and many of the history books) because in his 1989 autobiography he made a passing reference to King spending the night with another woman before he passed away.

People aren't merely mad at Selma because LBJ was portrayed inaccurately; they are mad because one of King's closest friends and right-hand man had all of his accomplishments completely ignored and overwritten.

BroJing said:
Bobs point about relegating LBJs contribution seems a little disingenuous when put up against how much he is opposed to Eastwood sanding off the edges of Chris Kyle.
This, as well.
 

3asytarg3t

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Surprise, Bob attempted to say something (no doubt profound at least in his mind) and failed.
 

hentropy

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Dragonlayer said:
I haven't seen Selma so I'm not sure how it depicts LBJ but is it fair to say that *if* it has indulged in "mere" narrative simplification, it's an acceptable sacrifice for sake of drama? In any historical work, let alone one as seemingly sensitive as American race relations, the tiniest change for the sake of narrative can turn any figure into a complete bastard and send the wrong message.
I have seen Selma and I can say that it certainly doesn't make LBJ look like a bastard. Everyone knew that LBJ could be a stubborn mule of a man even toward people he liked and supported. No one really knows exactly what was said between King and Johnson during their various meetings. The film sets up early the "conflict" between King and LBJ, where Johnson wanted King's support on the War on Poverty, and didn't believe he had the political capital with the Voting Rights Act and wanted to wait, whereas King wanted to move forward while they wanted momentum. LBJ was famously a 'bastard' to people who didn't want to do things his way, so is the interaction believable? Absolutely? Did they actually happen? Maybe, maybe not.

The real narrative design was to make LBJ somewhat of a "redeemed figure" and example of southern pride without all the racism. Not to try and spoil the ending, but near the ending LBJ "comes to his senses" when he realizes that he might be unintentionally on the same side as George McGovern. Keep in mind that this is the same movie that doesn't actually use any of King's actual words and speeches, the idea of them making up some interactions between King and Johnson shouldn't be considered out in right field. So, Johnson isn't portrayed as anything wildly different from the truth, he was in support of the Civil Rights movement fully along with other progressive initiatives, but the refusal of King to actively support the War on Poverty because he felt Voting Rights was more important bruised his ego a bit, and it took the media firestorm of Selma for him to finally push for Voting Rights.

deathbydeath said:
People aren't merely mad at Selma because LBJ was portrayed inaccurately; they are mad because one of King's closest friends and right-hand man had all of his accomplishments completely ignored and overwritten.
I don't know if you've seen the movie, but that seems like a hyperbolic characterization. It doesn't pull the camera away and focus on Abernathy for very long, but all of King's inner circle are seen surrounding him and supporting him and providing important dialogue. It certainly doesn't minimize their contributions, in fact one of the movie's themes is that it took more than just King to get things done. Putting him in the oval office with King might cause movie-making awkwardness, you have to give him lines or he just stands there, and then what lines do you give him? His presence could have been handled better, I think that's fair, but I don't think he was the victim of historical erasing.
 

Ralancian

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Did Bob even watch The Imitation Game? I very much doubt it. The film is very much split into three parts

1) Him coming to terms with his sexuality as young boy whilst at school
2) Him trying to hide it during the war years partially though having a non-sexual relationship and engagement with woman (did happen).
3) The investigation into gross-indecency, conviction, chemical castration and suicide.

The film does not gloss over these fact's but put more to the forefront his world changing work in computers. Let us not forget Turing defined what a computer is and was instrumental into some of the first built. His work made it possible for me to write this and other to write back. His work specifically is also estimated to have shorted WW2 by 2-3 years.

The film doesn't bring his sexuality to the forefront because it is making a big deal about him hiding it whilst doing world-changing work. It's also because it doesn't make a massive deal about him being gay as it's trying to tell that story even more so.

The story of Alan Turing should not be about a gay man who was persecuted.

The story of Alan Turing should of been about a man fundamental in ushering the digital age who happen to be gay. The film is a complete sucker punch when you actually realise what we did to him (if you didn't know already, many don't) and leaves a vile taste in your mouth at the thought we'd do it to a human being especially one so accomplished because he was different.

The film should be applauded and whilst there are a few misteps it clearly didn't hide the fact he was gay (you'd know if you watched it) but clearly for some people unless he spent the entire movie in bed with men not doing anything else it wouldn;t of been good enough. Even if it would of offered absolutely nothing to the film.



Say yeah Bob worst internet movie critic with biggest following.
 

mrverbal

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The biggest problem with the imitation game was that it made turing an almost non-function aspbergs/autistic person, rather than reflecting reality (in that he may have been on the spectrum, but he was on the 'can function talking to people and making jokes end'.

On the gay rights end: I think what people have a problem with is that in relaity Turing was fairly openly gay during the war, or at least regularly propositioned men he liked. It would've been easy to show.