Thursday, December 17, 2009

Are You Smarter Than A Screenwriter?

I'm determined not to write about Christmas.
So, instead, I'm providing a compilation of my favourite cinematic fuck-ups, that is, in terms of small matters such as historical accuracy or scientific fact. Of course, we have to allow a little artistic license in films - for example, The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars would never have gotten off the ground if we insisted on a degree of factuality that would rule out aliens, elves, and giant fucking fire monsters. However, some of the shit flushed our way, even in decent films by respectable directors, is just too blatant to go without stating.

Now for the nasty nine...

9. Requiem For A Dream
Crime: Not fact-checking the effect of heroin upon human pupils.
It breaks my heart to have to include this gem of a film, but its one glaring flaw is the repeated motif of the characters' pupils expanding after they inject heroin. In fact, human pupils do the exact opposite in response to opiates; contracting to pin-pricks. Which is why junkies often refer to being "pinned". This is Hollywood, people! You can't scrape up a single ex-junkie to talk to?

8. Troy
Crimes: Many, including Achilles' alleged heterosexuality.
Never mind the fact that the producers intentionally ignored and misrepresented the "Achilles heel" component, there was a bigger problem concering Achilles and his cousin, Patroclus. Historical sources including The Iliad (and later, Plato), paint a vastly different picture of the"beloved friends" than does the film. Let's just say it. Sodomy. There. We said it.

7. The Last Samurai
Crime: The entire premise. And the entire story. And Tom Cruise being alive at the end.
Let's get this straight. Samurai were proud warriors who clung fiercely to notions of caste, ethnicity, and a horribly violent code called Bushido. Barbarians (yes, that was actually the term for Whitey) being allowed to train in their secret and ancient practices? To fuck and marry one of their chaste women? To go to battle, lose the battle, and return home to open arms? Nope. In fact, Samurai don't believe in returning home after losing a battle. At all. It's a pretty Spartan arrangement, what with the whole "Come back with your sword or on it" mindset. If you lose, you either get nailed by the enemy, or commit ritual Seppaku, which is basically disembowelling yourself after a polite tea ceremony.

6. Braveheart
Crime: Mel "Sugar Tits" Gibson unwittingly becomes a paedophile as well as a sexist anti-semite.
I understand that this film probably had to include a tacky, tacked-on romance to keep the chicks happy between the gruesome scenes of slaughter, but couldn't they have just made a character up? William Wallace (Mel Gibson) is portrayed as having an illicit affair with Princess Isabelle of France (Sophie Marceau). In fact, when William Wallace was hung, drawn and quartered in 1305, little Princess Izzy was only 10 years old. At the time of the alleged affair, she would have been three.

5. The People vs Larry Flynt
Crime: The wrong guy gets shot.
Somewhere out there, a man called Gene Reeves Jnr is very pissed off. That's because, in actuality, it was Gene Reeves Jnr, and not Alan Isaacman, who was shot and badly wounded alongside Flynt outside a Cincinatti courthouse. Reeves, and a bunch of other less important lawyers, were neatly superimposed into the one character of Isaacman, to make the story easier to follow. "Um... won't that guy be pissed that he got edited out of history?" ... Yeah. I reckon.

4. Twister
Crime: The F5 Twister fails to break a horse harness, or the characters' necks.
Despite the fact that it neatly blew several farm houses and silos to smithereens, tossed around some tanker trucks, and just about levelled the entire countryside, the final, giant tornado is finally outfoxed by Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt gripping on to some old bits of leather strap attached to a water pipe in an old barn. Auntie Em, that twister just ain't right.

3. Apolcalypto
Crime: The Conquistadores are about 300 years early.
Mel "Are-You-A-Jew?" Gibson contends that the Spaniards who arrive on the beaches at the end of the film, to the disbelief of the Mayan locals, were meant to be the batch that arrived in 1502. Awesome. Except that the last known Mayan cities were abandoned by at least 300 years earlier.

2. Outbreak
Crime: The miracle antigen.
Cuba Gooding Jnr + 1 small rhesus monkey + 5 minutes = enough viral antigen to save a town of several thousand people from a deadly Ebola-type virus. Efficient stuff!

1. Every sci-fi film except "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Crime: Sound in space
Those great explosions with the cochlear-shredding impact you get in the cinemas require air to travel through if they're going to be heard. Space is essentially a giant vacuum, and by all accounts completely silent. In space, nobody can hear you fuck up the facts.

Apologies to all who were expecting this list to include Tommy Lee Jones holding up a river of lava with a few concrete roadblocks and a garden hose, but I've got it on good authority that the plot of Volcano was technically plausible. In that one respect. Technically.


  1. Regarding sound in space, I always assumed that the explosion sounds where those heard from the _inside_ of the exploding ships transmitted over the radio ---or whatever audio link they may have--- to the ship where the camera is shooting from.

    I mean, the camera can't float in space on its own, can it?

    Oh, wait...

  2. The Last Samurai's ending was a complete cop-out. I thought he was at least going to commit seppuku in front of the emperor.

  3. That would have been a classy move.