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Thread: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

  1. #1
    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    A lot of people point out the obvious flaws and historical inaccuracies in recent movies like 300, but to me almost nothing holds a candle to King Arthur (2004), which I shall nominate for worst historical drama film of the 21st century. At least movies like 300 are up front about being based on a comic by Frank Miller more than they are based on real history, like the Greco-Persian Wars in The Histories by Herodotus.



    Directed by the rather quirky Antoine Fuqua, with an otherwise stellar cast including Clive Owen, and a phenomenal musical score as always by Hans Zimmer, this movie is so stupid it is painful to watch. It is by leaps and bounds way more stupid than other recent flawed movies about Roman Britain, including Centurion (2010) and The Eagle (2011). Don't get me wrong: it's not simply more stupid by focusing on a mythological figure (Arthur, King of the Britons) over, say, an actual Roman legion (i.e. Legio IX Hispana). Yet by making a movie about Arthur in the first place, the movie is basically setting itself up to satisfy silly nationalistic and fantastically anachronistic notions of what it meant to be a Briton in the 5th century AD. I could spend a good amount of time writing about how historically inaccurate the vast majority of costumes and soldier's gear, outfits, armor, and weaponry are (including Lancelot who wields two swords at once or Saxons with crossbows), but simply pointing out all the ridiculous crap in the script and plot alone can suffice.

    I almost fell out of my chair laughing in the beginning of the film, when Lancelot (a Sarmatian) is taken from his village in the steppes to serve in the military of the Sarmatians' patron state of Rome. His father gets all emotional and pounds his chest, affirming the ethnic pride of their people by calling out "Rus! Rus!" This line is repeated later as well. That would be all fine and dandy, was it not for the fact that the Sarmatians were an Iranian people, and the much later medieval Rus were Slavic. But I digress; let us get on to the substance, the meat and potatoes of all the terribly wrong things committed by this film.

    Two things actually surprise me somewhat:

    1) the portrayal of the invading Saxons, the progenitors of the English, as absolutely evil and immoral villains who would rather kill native British women than rape them and sully their pure Saxon blood by making half British half Saxon babies.

    2) the movie's endorsement via Arthur's fawning for the Romano-British theologian Pelagius (fl. 390 - 418 AD), whose doctrine of free will over predestination doesn't exactly fit at all with today's ethos of the Protestant Anglican Communion (or any Protestant church based on Luther's ideas of predestination).

    For starters, the movie takes this premise so far that the Saxons basically just kill every person in every village they come across in systematic genocide, burning every village to the ground because...that makes perfect logical sense for supporting the ongoing logistics of feeding and housing their invasion force? Already the Saxons are given a bad rap whereas historically the Saxons actually ruled over those they conquered, as opposed to annihilating them to a man. Even in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th-century fairy tales masquerading as history (since it's pretty clear he cooked up about 90% of the Arthurian legend from his own imagination), the Saxons, who are enemies of Arthur, a native Celtic Briton (made half Roman in the movie, even though it is Guinevere who should be of Roman blood), are certainly not given the same portrayal as bloodthirsty butchers of every civilian in their warpath.

    I get it, the film needs antagonists (in this case Stellan Skarsgård and Til Schweiger), but this is just too much to bear. That and all the uber-evil tactics of their chieftain Cerdic (i.e. Skarsgård), like cutting his own son's face when he lost a battle, relieving him of his command, and letting his son kill one of his father's companions in an emotional outburst. I'm sure that sort of thing was a ritual among the Saxons.

    As for Pelagius, even though his teachings don't jive with Anglicans today, the fact he was "excommunicated" by the Church as explained in the movie by a twisted and corrupt Roman papacy would certainly earn their posthumous approval of him. In fact, the movie is just littered with stuff that is obviously anti-Catholic, showing its leading adherents as nearly as bloodthirsty as the Saxons as they punish people for sins and stuff. There's the bizarre fact that a bishop from Rome is given the authority to interfere in the discharge of Sarmatian warriors serving Rome so that they can go on some mission to rescue a Roman boy who is basically in line to become the next pope should he play his cards right. This is all used as a plot device to show that Rome, which is officially abandoning Britain as announced by the bishop, is beyond saving. If this wasn't painfully obvious, Guinevere makes it so when she tries to persuade Arthur not to move to Rome, but to stay in Britain, to look after his own people and make a worthy home there. Britain was the "last outpost of freedom" for Arthur because "Rome is dead" she argues, a rather bold and intuitive prophecy for an illiterate Celtic woman living north of Hadrian's Wall. Apparently she's kept well informed about the goings on in continental Europe.

    That brings me to another stupid aspect of the movie: it takes place in 467 AD! Historically the Romans evacuated from Britain in 409 AD, yet the movie shows them manning the length of Hadrian's Wall in force. Even dumber, for some odd reason the Roman boy Arthur had to save from the marauding Saxons was actually living in some monastery / plantation NORTH of the defensive wall for no apparent reason other than "the pope gave us this piece of land." Apparently that was seen as the perfect place to send a prospective young man seen as a potential future pope. I'm speechless.

    You know what? All of this I might have forgiven, but then came that unholy scene where Mads Mikkelsen (playing the role of Tristan) shoots an arrow from like, a thousand miles away, and happens to hit dead center in the chest the Roman turncoat working for the Saxons as he's holed up in some tall tree on the opposite side of Hadrian's Wall. I laughed so hard at this that I think I may have woken some neighbors up.

    I could continue, but I think you get the point. Please do feel free to counter my arguments here or argue for a movie that you think is even worse! Even dumber! There are plenty of historical dramas produced in the last decade and a half to mule over.

  2. #2
    Halie Satanus's Avatar Emperor of ice cream
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Of all the films you could have picked as an example of terrible historical inaccuracies you pick an alternative (though not without evidence) portrayal of a mythical King..

    'King Arthur' is no more historical than Krull or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but as a fantasy film inspired by the mythical tales of Arthur and a very liberal sprinkle of historic possibility it's not that bad.

    It's not even the worst film made of King Arthur which is surely First Knight...

  3. #3

    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Its also a subjective thing anyway, where you see it from a fantasy fiction point of view, or you see it from historical side, or dramatic quality etc... hard to say.
    King Arthur as Halie said, it isnt even historical ( allthough the first knight is from the last century)... Roma im disapointed in you... very very disapointed... that said yeah that movie sucked but not the worst fantasy film of the 21st century...
    As historical films goes Revolution with Al pacino come to mind but that is 1985 film...

    From 21st century... hum There is Green zone, lions for lambs... Robin wood from Ridely scott? ( wich again is a legendary character from English folklore, but the historical representation of the setting is so messed up, and full of fantasy) another one is 10000 BC while being historicall is archaeologically inaccurate. In one scene, locals in what looks like ancient Egypt are forced to build pyramids, the earliest of which were not built until about 8,000 years later. The movie was also incorrect in depicting woolly mammoths as participants in the building of said pyramids...


    I dont know its hard to say, just because a film is historically inacurate doesnt mean its a bad film... it depends realy. Is gladiator a bad film? Braveheart? the Patriot? Shakespeare in love?, The kings speach? Pearl harbor? JFK? they all have inacuracies but they are great films so...
    300 is a nice film... its sequel not so much...


    The last legion and Lost City are pretty bad films from this century... probably worse then that arthur movie...

    Last edited by Knight of Heaven; October 30, 2014 at 05:15 AM.

  4. #4
    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    The Last Legion, where a Byzantine special agent from Kerala saves the ex-emperor Romulus from Senators with Ballista-Machine guns, thanks to her knowledge of Kalaripayattu!
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    1) the portrayal of the invading Saxons, the progenitors of the English, as absolutely evil and immoral villains who would rather kill native British women than rape them and sully their pure Saxon blood by making half British half Saxon babies.
    I remember that scene and actually it makes no sense at all. A Saxon warrior wants to rape a British woman, but their leader stops hin, so no Saxobrits will be born! He even kills him, when the warrior insists and when the woman thanks him, he decapitates her, as a part of Holocaust O.3. If he was going to kill her, why not to let the soldier rape her and then kill her? Last time I checked no children come out of dead people.

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    Halie Satanus's Avatar Emperor of ice cream
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    ( allthough the first knight is from the last century)...
    So it was... Still an awful film...

    The Last Legion, where a Byzantine special agent from Kerala saves the ex-emperor Romulus from Senators with Ballista-Machine guns, thanks to her knowledge of Kalaripayattu!
    Is that the one where Colin Firth gives the most uninspiring inspirational speech ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Hibernian View Post
    I remember that scene and actually it makes no sense at all. A Saxon warrior wants to rape a British woman, but their leader stops hin, so no Saxobrits will be born! He even kills him, when the warrior insists and when the woman thanks him, he decapitates her, as a part of Holocaust O.3. If he was going to kill her, why not to let the soldier rape her and then kill her? Last time I checked no children come out of dead people.
    That was just to emphasise how utterly Evil he was...
    Last edited by Halie Satanus; October 30, 2014 at 09:34 AM.

  6. #6
    sabaku_no_gaara's Avatar Indefinitely Banned
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    I'd say 10.000 with it's ancient aliens/ Ancient civilisation theory was dumber

  7. #7

    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    The Last Legion was horrid.

  8. #8
    Visna's Avatar Comrade Natascha
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    I'd say 10,000 BC is more science fiction or fantasy than historical, but if it belongs in the "historical" category, then it's definetely up there (or down there) with the worst of them.

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  9. #9
    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Quote Originally Posted by sabaku_no_gaara View Post
    I'd say 10.000 with it's ancient aliens/ Ancient civilisation theory was dumber
    I think the slaver guys were supposed to be from Atlantis not Mars. Anyway, because of the protagonist history went 6.000 years back. Urban societies are supposed to be superior to tribal ones.
    Quote Originally Posted by Halie Satanus View Post
    Is that the one where Colin Firth gives the most uninspiring inspirational speech ever?
    Not sure, I was too busy laughing to notice the details. Oh, and the Indian seal of the ERE (she finally killed her employers) looked like a sunburnt Anne Bonnie:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Last edited by Abdülmecid I; October 30, 2014 at 09:53 AM.

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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Last Legion or Centurion wish they had the cool psedo-historical pimpness of King Arthur. But they dont.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    King Arthus was silly fun,

    Last Legion was bad movie fun,

    10 000 BC was incredibly stupid bad movie fun,

    Red Tails was politically incorrect correctness farce and insult concerning an actual historical political issue on top of a snore fest.

    The winner is ...
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Eats, shoots, and leaves.

  13. #13
    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Quote Originally Posted by Halie Satanus View Post
    Of all the films you could have picked as an example of terrible historical inaccuracies you pick an alternative (though not without evidence) portrayal of a mythical King..

    'King Arthur' is no more historical than Krull or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but as a fantasy film inspired by the mythical tales of Arthur and a very liberal sprinkle of historic possibility it's not that bad.
    Quote Originally Posted by Knight of Heaven View Post
    Its also a subjective thing anyway, where you see it from a fantasy fiction point of view, or you see it from historical side, or dramatic quality etc... hard to say.
    King Arthur as Halie said, it isnt even historical ( allthough the first knight is from the last century)... Roma im disapointed in you... very very disapointed... that said yeah that movie sucked but not the worst fantasy film of the 21st century...
    So did you guys bother to read my review or...did you skip everything past the first sentence? I already mentioned as plain as day that Arthur was a myth, a legend cooked up mostly by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century. Is that something I honestly have to repeat?

    Despite the Arthurian legend being completely fabricated, the movie itself takes place within a very specific historical setting: the end of Roman Britain. It does not take place in Hogwarts, or Gondor, or the land of Narnia. Those are fantasy places with completely fantasy people that were never taken seriously by anyone as representing reality. For centuries the legend of Arthur was actually taken seriously by people in and outside of the British isles, although some of Geoffrey's own contemporaries questioned his source material and accused him of lying. It wasn't until about the late 16th century when you saw universal consensus in scholarship that nearly the whole thing was a fabrication made by Geoffrey (who relied on the 9th-century monk Nennius at least for the idea of Arthur that he refashioned into a detailed and legendary figure).

    For Christ sake, the movie even tries to explain the Sarmatian warriors who historically did see active service in the British Isles. So yes, Arthur was a legend, but the movie's setting is very historical despite the inaccurate year of 467 AD (Roman authorities had evacuated form the isles half a century before then).

    All that aside, yes, First Knight was terrible, but as already pointed out it does not fit the criteria of films from the year 2000 onwards.

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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    300: Rise of an Empire was so DREADFUL that i gave up watching after 5 min. Given that i really wanted it to be semi-decent so that i could at least watch through the battle scenes, and could not even do that, it gets my vote for worst movie supposedly about history, ever

    (i like the original 300, still ).

    (just who thinks of those 'cool departure from history' plots, such as 'Darius is in Marathon and gets arrowed by semi-random hoplite Themistocles who was the god of war'?...). Pure trash
    Last edited by Kyriakos; October 30, 2014 at 02:43 PM.
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Anything with Lancelot is French Romance, being somewhat of a Marty Stew.

    It's been years since I read Mallory, but the Saxons seemed very much a determined united Germanic war host fighting against the English, who inexplicably were divided into petty kingdoms.

    The Arthurian cycle is the founding myth of England, and nearly impossible to separate into it's component parts of Celtic folklore, Medieval romance, Christian mysticism, and Romano-Britain collapse.
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  16. #16
    Halie Satanus's Avatar Emperor of ice cream
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    So did you guys bother to read my review or...did you skip everything past the first sentence? I already mentioned as plain as day that Arthur was a myth, a legend cooked up mostly by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century. Is that something I honestly have to repeat?

    Despite the Arthurian legend being completely fabricated, the movie itself takes place within a very specific historical setting: the end of Roman Britain. It does not take place in Hogwarts, or Gondor, or the land of Narnia. Those are fantasy places with completely fantasy people that were never taken seriously by anyone as representing reality. For centuries the legend of Arthur was actually taken seriously by people in and outside of the British isles, although some of Geoffrey's own contemporaries questioned his source material and accused him of lying. It wasn't until about the late 16th century when you saw universal consensus in scholarship that nearly the whole thing was a fabrication made by Geoffrey (who relied on the 9th-century monk Nennius at least for the idea of Arthur that he refashioned into a detailed and legendary figure).

    For Christ sake, the movie even tries to explain the Sarmatian warriors who historically did see active service in the British Isles. So yes, Arthur was a legend, but the movie's setting is very historical despite the inaccurate year of 467 AD (Roman authorities had evacuated form the isles half a century before then).

    All that aside, yes, First Knight was terrible, but as already pointed out it does not fit the criteria of films from the year 2000 onwards.
    I read your post. Your premise was based on a contradiction I just highlighted the contradiction. King Arthur being set in a historical period doesn't make it any less fantasy or more historical, nor does you pulling a few facts from the period to back up your point.

    Next you'll be claiming 'The Passion of the Christ' as a historical drama.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Gladiator, Robin Hood and Noah are the worst historical dramas. Ffs Noah, that doesn't even look like the Black Sea.
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    A history-based movie can be ridiculously inaccurate and still be entertaining. '300' has, like, were-goats, and it's still a great, fun action movie. '300: Rise of an Empire' isn't mediocre because it deviated from history (it isn't any less accurate then '300', really), it's mediocre because the script is just one cheesy cliche after the other. 'King Arthur'? I honestly hadn't seen it in years, but from what I remember it was OK. I liked it about as much as I liked 'Alexander', and that film was supposedly very accurate.

    History buffs aren't a target audience for Hollywood. You should never expect a high budget film to be historically accurate, you should expect it to be entertaining, that's already hard enough to achieve.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Well pretty much any historical movie in last 15 years left me underwhelmed, pissed off or bored except 300 which I started to like over time because it at least isn't so much pretentious and offers a gazzilion of over the top badass scenes. I guess Troy would have been ok if it weren't for the major cop out ending.

    The movies that irked me the most are:
    Saving Private Ryan
    Ironclad
    Stalingrad (2013)

    But the movies that made me angry beyond all comprehension:
    *Insert any Ridley Scott movie/seris*

    The man is beyond annoying with his historical adaptations, it's almost like he's the Hollywoods self appointed champion of historical drama's. Yet somehow in his every movie his every protagonist is an American fighting for modern US Ideals in every goddamn part of the history... UGH ...

  20. #20

    Default Re: Worst historical drama film of the 21st century thus far?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    Gladiator, Robin Hood and Noah are the worst historical dramas. Ffs Noah, that doesn't even look like the Black Sea.
    I actualy liked Noah as a fantasy film ( i dont think it was a historical drama.... just like passion of christ isnt exactly a historical drama), didnt see Noah as anything else then a nice fantasy drama film, and i got the impression it didnt intended to anything else than that.... regardless of biblical history or not.. I dont think it is a bad film either.
    Gladiator as well, its not acurate but it isnt a bad film ( actualy a remake of a older Roman historical drama of the 50s i think)... Robin Hood on the other hand... bad movie, and bad historical portrayal...

    300: Rise of an Empire was so DREADFUL that i gave up watching after 5 min. Given that i really wanted it to be semi-decent so that i could at least watch through the battle scenes, and could not even do that, it gets my vote for worst movie supposedly about history, ever

    (i like the original 300, still ).

    (just who thinks of those 'cool departure from history' plots, such as 'Darius is in Marathon and gets arrowed by semi-random hoplite Themistocles who was the god of war'?...). Pure trash
    That film is bad, but i think its not because of the reasons you mentioned... 300 was very inacurate and fictitions as well, and yet was a much more acomplished film...
    Rise of the empire has one bright light though...
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Last edited by Knight of Heaven; October 31, 2014 at 01:20 AM.

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