Basinger: Movies Not Often Historically Accurate

David PesciFebruary 28, 20111min
Historically-based feature films can inspire, but audiences beware: these are not documentaries

In a piece for The Washington Post titled “And the Oscar for most historically accurate film goes to…all of them!” Jeanine Basinger, chair and Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, discusses how movies are rarely, if ever, historically accurate. From Braveheart, Chariots of Fire, Lawrence of Arabia, and A Beautiful Mind to the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech, writers and directors have taken liberties with the facts for dramatic reasons. However, Basinger says, movies are, after all, entertainment, and the onus for knowing these inaccuracies also lies as much with audiences as the filmmakers. “Just as filmmakers must take responsibility for how they portray history, audiences have to take responsibility for what they believe, asking themselves how seriously a film wants them to trust its accuracy, and why,” she says.