Digging Lara

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The new Lara Croft movie gets a review in … Archaeology magazine! Among the judgments: "Big problems with the Luna Temple."

"Oh well," sigh the scholars, "maybe they'll do a third movie in which we'll see Lara Croft at a scholarly meeting presenting a paper on long-distance trade and kinship ties in Assyria based on her trace element analysis of metal artifacts…."

Thanks to: ArtsJournal

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  1. Other problems with Gladiator:

    The Roman calvary rode horses with stirrups in the film; the stirrup was notr introduced to Europe until the middle ages.

    The calvary was portrayed as the decisive force in the battle; the calvary was really generally the mop up crew, they would slaughter those fleeing the battle. This was also the case as far as the Greek use of hoplites are concerned.

    Commodus was actually Marcus Aurelius’ pick to succeed him.

    Commodus reigned for twelve years, not the short time span portrayed in the movie.

    Commodus was not killed in the arena; he was poisoned (by his mistress, who was plotting with his praetorian Prefect and his chamberlain), but it didn’t kill him, so he was in turn strangled to death by one of his athlete friends.

    Commodus did fight in the arena (which shocked Roman society, since arena fighting was for criminals and professional gladiators – a lower-class occupation), but he was quite good at it despite the film’s attempt to paint him as a weakling.

  2. BTW, Mel Gibson movies are not known for their historical accuracy – see “Braveheart” and “Patriot.”

    At least in the case of “Braveheart,” the story was told in an interesting way, and not too many leaps were made. However “Patriot” is an abomination.

    Problems with Braveheart:

    Wallace’s wife was hung.

    Her death did not cause the war; Wallace was in fact already righting by the time she was hung (her death was retribution for such).

    Wallace was 6’6″; Gibson is half his size in height and girth.

    William Wallace never met the Princess of Wales and she did not have his baby;

    Robert the Bruce was around 17 at the time of William Wallace’s “fight for freedom” (he was an interested in land as anyone was). Robert the Bruce never betrayed Wallace. He did slaughter his rivals the Comyns (my wife is a descendent of the Comyns) in order to better control Scotland.

    The English did not incur heavy losses at Falkirk.

    Wallace ran into hiding after the battle of Falkirk and he basically hid until one of his own associates betrayed his whereabouts to the English in 1305; as far as I know, he did not ride his horse into a Scottish noble’s castle and crush him under the horse’s hooves.

    In the 13th century (and the 14th, 15th, and most of the 16th), no Scots, whether Gaels or not, wore belted plaids (let alone kilts of any kind). Further, when the Scottish Gaels did start wearing their belts outside their plaids (mantles), they did not wear them in the rather bizarre style depicted in the film. In other words, not only did the film get the clothing wrong, but they got the wrong clothing itself wrong! (This is like a film about Colonial America showing the colonial men wearing late 20th century blue jeans, but instead of having the men’s blue jeans use a zipper in the front, putting the zipper prominently on the left hip.)

    To the best of my knowledge, at no time did Edward invite the nobles of Scotland “to talks of truce — no weapons, one page only.” Certainly not in 1280, when Alexander III had his nobles well in hand, nor in 1286, nor 1290, nor 1292, nor 1296. Especially he would not have called them to such talks in Glen Nevis or anywhere that looked remotely like Glen Nevis, far from Edward’s strongholds and power. (Again, this is like depicting discussions between the Colonial Americans and British as taking place in the Grand Canyon.)

    Although to the best of my knowledge the name of William Wallace’s father is not really known, what is known is that he was no mere “farmer”. He was a knight who held lands.

    The sons of knights did not dress in rags. Further, even poor Scots would have known how to sew (or at least had a family member who knew how to sew) — poor people, even less than rich, could not afford to let their clothing unravel and disintegrate because they left edges unhemmed.

  3. Problems with “The Patriot”:

    Australian “farmer” saves the American cause! 🙂

  4. Croesus, I’d like to see you do the same catalogue for The Patriot, whose depiction of the British burning down a church with scores of people locked inside strikes me as a particularly objectionable misuse of history. Did anything even remotely like this happen in the Revolutionary War?

  5. tim,

    Sorry, I ran out of steam. 🙂

    Yes, as far as I know, nothing like this happened during the Revolutionary War (or nothing like this occurred under the command of British regulars). As I understand it, the story was lifted from actions committed by the NAZIs in France in 1941.

    On June 10, 1944, entire population of Oradour-sur-Glane, a small village in southern France, was massacred by an SS unit. More than 600 men, women, and children are forced into the village church, which is then set ablaze. Almost all of the village’s population died in this atrocity. The massacre of men, women, and children in Oradour-sur-Glane was undertaken ostensibly in retaliation for much of the partisan activity that preceded the Normandy invasion. The entire village was raised, and remains a ruin to “Souviens-toi: Remember.”

    Pictures of it ruined:

    http://www.adanor.co.uk/oradour3.html

    Origina Oradour-sur-Glane:

    http://www.oradour.btinternet.co.uk/pictures/oldorad3.htm

    http://www.oradour.btinternet.co.uk/pictures/oldorad2.htm

    BTW, Oradour-sur-Glane was not the only French village raised in this way; as I recall there were over a hundred (132 to be exact) other French villages raised in an effort to intimidate the French populace. However, such actions tended to embolden the FFI and the maquis, rather than make them cower.

  6. tim,

    BTW, by lifting this story from the WWII hitorical record, I think this was a fairly blatant attempt to paint the British as Nazis; an archetype that American filmakers are often all to willing to use and abuse out of laziness or simple stupidity.

  7. The British may not have been on as base a level as the Nazis (they didn’t have the proper tools, nor were they logistically as well equipped.)

    Nevertheless, for the day, the British had their own fierce brand of cruelty.

    You can’t tell me that keeping American teenage boys (kidnapped on the high seas) captive for days on end, in the bowels of sweltering hot ships-at-anchor in Boston harbor, until they either fainted from malnourishment, died from disease, or simply suffocated from the oppressive heat — that such heinousness was not comparable to Nazi atrocities.

    And that’s just one example.

    I’m sure my fellow bloggers (American, Canadian, or British) can come up with many more examples of British savagery before, during, and even after the Revolutionary War. The many land-based debaucheries as well as the frequent maritime barbarisms conducted by British sadists are well recorded for posterity.

  8. If Mel Gibson’s new movie, The Passion, is filmed in the original Aramaic (with no subtitles) then it’s bound to be a box office smash!

    Can you imagine a better money-maker when half the movie-going world speaks fluent Aramaic?

  9. Other problems with Gladiator:

    2) Maximus, the hero, showed the little boy two embossed horses on his breast plate by pointing to one belonging to Tonto, and another belonging to The Lone Ranger. Both Tonto and The Lone Ranger were much too far off in the future for Maximus to have known about either of them.

    1) The Roman calvary rode horses without stirrups. (Centurions kept falling off.) That’s why the Romans lost the 1st and 2nd Punic Wars.

  10. Ooops! That’s cavalry. Cavalry!

    I told you I was

  11. My advice is not to watch movies that deal with your field, unless they make a big deal about how accurate they are. Majoring in history has caused me to ruin several movies for friends. 🙂

  12. My advice is to generally not watch any of the low quality crap that Hollywood is putting out this summer. Talk about a collection of lightweight sequels. It’s almost as if they’ve run out of ideas for movies with plots that mean anything these days, and at the end of the day, studios just decide to remake some movie that’s been done before, spend some millions on special effects and what not, and call it a day. Hollywood has had some good years and some bad years, but I don’t think it’s ever been THIS bad.

  13. My advice is to not watch a Lara Croft movie unless you only want to see big tits and explosions. When is it coming out?

  14. The movie Gladiator was practically ruined for me when they had the Germanic people speaking (in the background) in modern high German, which is so pitifully far from what they’d be speaking…

    So yeah. Don’t count on Hollywood for accuracy.

  15. I know dagny, and can you believe the nerve? They had a bumch of Romans speaking English! Those morons!

    Maybe you’ll want to see Mel Gibson’s new movie – The Passion. Based (I think) primarily on St. Matthew’s gospel it is reported to filmed in the original Aramaic … with no subtitles.

  16. But Gibson’s “Passion” has the incorrect Latin pronunciations. The trailer has Pilate saying “Ecce Homo” like a 20th-century pre-Vatican Catholic, not a 1st-century Roman.

  17. Yeah, I am looking forward to “Passion”- talk about staying faithful to history! Aramaic, and Latin with no subtitles…
    It’s true that experts in *scientific, qualitative or factual* fields should avoid films in their field becuase they tend to be distracted by technical inaccuracies, often made in the name of dramatic liscence or pacing concerns. But we liberal arts majors should have no such hang ups- we can enjoy the “truth” in the story apart from any lack of “fact”.
    If you want to see the best example of how a picky scientist can ruin all your favorite sci-fi movies and tv with his “science” I recommend this fun site ( in all fairness he also exposes media exaggerations): http:www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/index.html

  18. i found it very interesting to hear all of you discussing american film makers in this manner. i, myself, am an American and i never really looked into the false acounts of history that they were making. i just happened to come across this site. keep it up!! i love hearing about this.

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