starring Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi, Jake Weber and David Keith
written by JonathanMostow, Sam Montgomery and David Ayer
directed by Jonathan Mostow
This is another movie that shows the audience the measure of Hollywood’s capacity for altering history, or lying about it for entertainment purposes. What I mean is that this story, about Allied World War II submariners who capture an damaged German U-Boat in the mid-Atlantic in order to capture the Nazis’ secret Enigma encoding machine - a major feat in the Second World War - is a true story. But it didn’t happen the way hat Hollywood tolls it. In reality it was an entirely British operation, a British submarine that did the job. But since this is an American movie the producers and director want to make it appeal more to an American audience, so the change the facts.
But this is not an isolated case. It frequently happens this way. In the Ton hanks movie Saving Private Ryan a squad of U.S. Army Rangers hikes though the German-occupied French countryside looking for Private Ryan, whom they are supposed to rescue and take back to his mommy. The problem is that in the entire movie there are no French people (except for one family in a destroyed house). Where are all the French people? Not just the civilian population, but the French Resistance fighters and the French army units fighting alongside the American and British Allied forces. Where are they? We are left to conclude that Americans are simply not interested in the European’s participation in the war. Probably in their collective imagination Americans see World War Two as their war that they fought and won alone. Not true, of course.
Then there is the older movie, The Great Escape starring Steve McQueen and others. It was based on the book by the same name written by Canadian Paul Brickhill, about a true mass escape of Allied prisoners of war from a German POW camp, the site of which is founding contemporary Poland. No Americans were involved in the real episode. Instead, it was a British and Canadian affair. But when Hollywoodmade the movie the producers/director could not help but to insert a few American characters. Guess in order to appeal more to an American audience.
Finally, this year we have the blockbuster romance Pearl Harbor, starring Ben Affleck. I have not seen it yet, but I already know from reviews that there are three notidceavble
mistakes in it:
1) The U.S. flag in the movie is the wrong flag, showing 50-stars rather than 48. In 1941 Hawaii and Alaska were not yet states.
2) A reporter in the movie gets blown up twice.
3) Although the Pearl Harbor attack occurred in December 1941 there are motor vehicles driving around with 1943 license plates.
In their own defense the studios say that they are making entertainment, not historical documentaries. But I disagree. I think they are re-writing history. The unhistorical impressions that are left from the movies are very difficult to erase from people’s minds once they are settled there. For young, impressionable people growing up and watching those movies the misinformation that they absorb becomes their history lesson and part of their worldview. It is nefarious and cunning.