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Anachronisms in fiction, do you notice them? Login/Join 
Freethinker
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posted
This question was prompted by a comment in the Explain the Memes thread.

I appreciate it when writers or movie producers pay close attention to historical or other accuracy. For example, I noted with great satisfaction a couple of small details in the movie Saving Private Ryan that I’m sure were unnoticed by virtually all other viewers. On the other hand, that’s why I have completely given up on some authors, including one who is very popular and had someone “blown out of his shoes” when shot by a 44 Magnum revolver.

A few anachronisms here and there I can tolerate, and sometimes I get a kick out of finding one. The series The Americans about Soviet spies in the early 1980s was extremely well done in many ways, including adding some obscure spy tradecraft. In one scene that lasted only a second or two, though, a Leupold Mark 4 scope was shown mounted on what appeared to be a Remington model 700. The rifle was correct for the era, but not the sight.

Other anachronisms are in expressions and dialogue. The guy who’s taken up writing the W.E.B. Griffin series of books is particularly careless in that regard, I believe, with his World War II characters using expressions from decades later.

Being kinda old and long having had a deep interest in history makes such things more obvious to me, but I wonder how many other people feel the same.




“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
 
Posts: 41846 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have seen quite a few westerns where the Colt Single action army is present, though the story takes place in the late 1860's.

I am generally disappointed when I see historical anachronisms in video entertainment. I am equally disappointed when reading fiction and an obvious lack of technical knowledge is displayed. For example, "He flicked off the safety of his Colt revolver."

In general, I try not to let these things prevent enjoying otherwise good entertainment. I don't recall who said it, but one has to suspend one's disbelief in order to enjoy fictional entertainment.
 
Posts: 622 | Location: Ohio & UP of Michigan | Registered: April 18, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Fighting the good fight
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A majority of movies have actually come a long way in chasing realism/accuracy, especially with military topics and gun handling.

Compare a recent war movies to one made before the early 2000s, and you'll notice a big difference. While it's not always perfect, there's much more attention paid nowadays to uniform and equipment accuracy, proper tactics and gun handling, etc.
 
Posts: 24782 | Location: Northwest Arkansas | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Being a lifelong medieval enthusiast, I take pride (but my wife loathes) in examining movies and TV showing arms and armor. Usually it is poor to horrid, but in general, the ridiculous crap from 70s and 80s is mostly gone (like crochet maille that was near-universal).

A particularly good movie in terms of arms, armor, and carnage is "Ironclad."
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Batty67:
Being a lifelong medieval enthusiast, I take pride (but my wife loathes) in examining movies and TV showing arms and armor. Usually it is poor to horrid, but in general, the ridiculous crap from 70s and 80s is mostly gone (like crochet maille that was near-universal).

A particularly good movie in terms of arms, armor, and carnage is "Ironclad."

SO, a Roman legionnaire fighting in Gaul or, Brittania, didn't wear the same kit as a legionnaire fighting Hannibal? Big Grin
 
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Freethinker
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quote:
Originally posted by RogueJSK:
Compare a recent war movies to one made before the early 2000s, and you'll notice a big difference.


No question. When I was a kid it used to grind my gears to see a US M46 or M48 tank with German army crosses in the war movies of the day. I think it was Kelly’s Heroes that I remember with the first halfway decent depiction of a Tiger I. I know it wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough for me to say, “Yeah! Finally.”

Of course, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. To this day I wouldn’t be able to tell if an early Winchester was right for the period unless it was during the Civil War, and other than no horns on Viking helmets, I’m even worse going further back.

I’ve remarked about this before, but I recall a comment by an Army major who was the technical advisor to one movie. When he defended the lack of historical accuracy by, “We’re producing entertainment, not a technical film,” I thought, “You don’t understand that historical accuracy is part of the entertainment value for some of us.”

The “willing suspension of disbelief” argument is a valid point, but only as far as is necessary. I read a lot of the technothriller genre these days, and the situations the heroes find themselves in and how they manage to succeed requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. Accepting that someone was blown out of his shoes by a handgun bullet or that someone’s nonbeating heart could be restarted by shocking him with a TASER, however, shouldn’t be part of that.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: sigfreund,




“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
 
Posts: 41846 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I just rewatched "The Siege of Firebase Gloria" a few days ago, and I gotta say... The gun handling and movements in that film are laughably bad.

Hell, you had R. Lee Ermey in the leading role! You'd think the Gunny Himself could have at leave given the supporting actors and extras a 10 minute crash course on how to hold, move with, shoulder, and shoot a rifle without looking like a total dumbass.

(Not to mention that it's set during the Tet Offensive in 1968, yet they're all running around with 30 round mags in their M16s, which weren't available in Vietnam until the early 1970s. But that's a much more nit-picky issue.)
 
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Official Space Nerd
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Of course, Doctor Who is 1) British and 2) a dramedy, so they play with this quite a bit. . .



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I don't mind small technical mistakes, like the wrong telescope sight on a rifle. (Within reason - don't put a ACOG on a Sharps rifle in 1880.) It is an entertainment, not a historical recreation.

But some errors are so large they spoil the illusion. I guess everyone has a different tolerance. Obviously one's tolerance for error depends on how much you know about some subject, too.




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For me it the use of the 1892 Winchester lever action in westerns set years before it was available.


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Posts: 10261 | Location: Marquette MI | Registered: July 08, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm probably "medium" bothered by anachronisms. However, I'm really impressed when a show goes out of its way to be period accurate.

Two examples I can think of off the top of my head are the Chernobyl mini-series - things like the constant smoking, wedding rings on the right hand, etc. Also, of all things, Stranger Things. Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, it takes me back.




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Barbarian at the Gate
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Often I'll notice such things and depends on the film whether or not I take umbrage. If the film had good intentions but a low budget I'd be Ok with it, or if it was a "fun" movie.

The more serious films or big budget jobs I haev no problem calling out their mistakes or worse, on purpose errors.

Take Saving Private Ryan, in many things the accuracy was spot on and almost perfect. However, the actors/extras playing Germans all had close buzzcuts (ordered by the production)- in reality most German soldiers had rather long hair (on top). Many felt Spielberg did this on purpose to make the Germans look like "skinheads" and/or to dehumanize them.

I don't know if that's true but it is odd for such a film that was very accurate in other respects.



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quote:
Originally posted by RogueJSK:
I just rewatched "The Siege of Firebase Gloria" a few days ago, and I gotta say... The gun handling and movements in that film are laughably bad.

Hell, you had R. Lee Ermey in the leading role! You'd think the Gunny Himself could have at leave given the supporting actors and extras a 10 minute crash course on how to hold, move with, shoulder, and shoot a rifle without looking like a total dumbass.

(Not to mention that it's set during the Tet Offensive in 1968, yet they're all running around with 30 round mags in their M16s, which weren't available in Vietnam until the early 1970s. But that's a much more nit-picky issue.)


I watched that last night, hadn't seen it before, or if I had I didn't remember. The gun handling was pretty awful, but some of the dialog had me flipping a coin as to whether to laugh or barf. The chopper pilot was horrible and even R. Lee had a couple of lines that made me cringe.




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When they refer to the ‘65 Mustang that daddy slaved over to rebuild during my high school years, then drive away in what is clearly a ‘67 Mustang. For Christ’s sake how hard is it to substitute ’67 for ‘65 in the dialogue. I get it there wasn’t a ‘65 readily available, but the script could not be adjusted?

Or the damned Hallmark Christmas orgy featuring a pristine 40 year old Jeep Cherokee picking up at the lodge, in 2018. It would seem everyone in Vermont restores Jeeps for the ski lodge industry. Plus no matter the weather or distance traveled it has not a spec of salt visible.


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Not really an anachronism, but it bothers me when I see a Huey being used in place of what should be a Blackhawk.



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quote:
Originally posted by sigfreund:
No question. When I was a kid it used to grind my gears to see a US M46 or M48 tank with German army crosses in the war movies of the day.


You mean the Germans operated no Bell 47s in WW II? Yeah I know there are no actual flying German period helicopters around, but given that its only use in "Where Eagles Dare" was choppering in the German general, it could simply have been left out for more conventional means of transport. Then there was the amazing Ju-52 in the recent "Babylon Berlin" series which flew Berlin-Russia and back nonstop in 1929, three years before its first flight. Also needlessly, because that stunt wasn't even in the Gereon Rath books.

Period warships are another thing hard to get by, but given the CGI fest that was "Pearl Harbor", there was no need to blow up those Spruance-class destroyers. The use of a clearly modern patrol boat in "The Thin Red Line" also stuck up for me. I prefer at least some effort being made at dress-up, like the Italian submarine rescue vessel that played a German destroyer in "U-571", as much of a stinker as that was otherwise.

My other pet grievance is the use of Mauser C96s in the second of the "Sherlock Holmes" movies with Robert Downney jr., set in 1893. I know these are borderline steampunk flicks with rather anachronistic gadgets anyway, but I'm a numbers guy, and that just didn't compute for me. Then there is the RPG-7 in "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Though I can forgive the use of MP 40s in 1936 more easily - these were Spielberg cartoon Nazis, so they needed cartoon Nazi guns. I mean, they had a quintessentially Nazi wonderweapon flying wing pusher airplane!
 
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I definitely get what you’re saying.

Having worked on movies and TV shows I’m more forgiving than I was. A little over a year ago I got to spend a day at the Presidio with some people in the weapons prop department at ILM in SF. Their stories were fascinating. The folks I talked to knew their stuff about guns. And they try their best but I think the world of props is a lot more chaotic than most people will ever know. I think when going to see a movie you have to be willing to suspend belief just a little.

I can think of several excuses why your scope example was wrong. Likely it’s just because the prop guy doesn’t know every single thing about every single gun item ever produced, which is truly impossible. But maybe he did just happen to know and had the right scope specified but it got broken in another shoot the day before. Or lost, or simply was given to a higher priority film. A studio can’t hold up shooting a show for a day because of a minor prop. There simply isn’t time or money for that.

Books I’m less forgiving on. I’m not saying a guy writing a book has limitless time, but he’s got no excuse to write the wrong information. He also doesn’t have to get specific if he doesn’t know what to say. He could just say “his rifle” instead of “his Remington 700” if he doesn’t know that the Remington 700 existed yet.




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Freethinker
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quote:
Originally posted by Pale Horse:
He also doesn’t have to get specific if he doesn’t know what to say.


Exactly. It’s apparent that a lot of readers of certain genres want the details included, but for me getting them wrong is worse than saying nothing about them. As I say, though, what’s wrong is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. I sometimes read things that I know are common misconceptions and then can only wonder if the author doesn’t know the truth of the matter or simply believes it’s better to say what his readers are expecting.

I understand or at least can imagine many of the reasons why filmmakers cannot always use the exactly proper thing, and that’s especially true if a major prop like a warship is involved.

The thing with the Mark 4 scope in The Americans series was a little different for me. The image was visible literally for only a second or two, and I had to go back and look at it frame by frame and finally make a screen shot to be sure about the rifle. I can well imagine that even if the prop guy knew that the scope wasn’t available in the 1980s, he would have thought, “You know, this is not something anyone will pick up on.” That example is sort of the reverse about anachronisms being speed bumps for me. In that case I was able to say, “Aha! My otherwise useless trivia knowledge and observational skills allowed me to catch an obscure ‘mistake.’ How many other people would have noticed that?”




“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
 
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My wife and I just watched the movie Green Book a couple days ago. It’s probably the best movie I’ve seen in two or three years but...the (mostly) true story is set in 1962 and I saw ‘64 Chevys a couple of times in the movie.


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Posts: 9608 | Location: Wyoming | Registered: January 10, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I notice some things but if the story and acting are good I can usually overlook a few goofs. Now if it’s a total dumpster fire I just laugh at the ridiculous nature of it all and move on.
 
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