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Visual Mistakes in Historical Movies

Mistakes in historical movies are all too common and they can provide some great laughs. I’m not talking about obscure mistakes like guns being the wrong model or a breed of horse being used which wouldn’t really have been found in that part of the world; I’m talking about visual blunders. The carefully created illusion that the actors or actresses are bringing history to life is so easily ruined by a stray wrist watch or an aircraft overhead. Here are a few of my favourite historical movie mistakes. The Vikings is an epic film where Kirk Douglas plays a vicious Viking ruler opposite hero Tony Curtis. In one scene Douglas is returning to his home town and as the longboat sails into the bay you can actually see a road in the background through the trees with cars driving along it. Pearl Harbor is a thoroughly terrible film and it is absolutely packed with historical inaccuracies and mistakes. One of the best mistakes is the scene featuring Evelyn as she enters the harbor area and you can clearly see a building behind her with a sign which says “Est. 1953” on it. In Gladiator Russell Crowe took on the role of Maximus and went up against the corrupt Emperor. It is a beautifully made film with several stunning scenes but during the re-enactment of the Battle of Carthage in the Coliseum you can see a gas canister on the back of one of the fallen chariots. In Ben-Hur there are a few mistakes during the epic chariot scene and you can see a trumpeter wearing a wrist watch, modern welding on the chariot wheels and a galvanized steel platform. You can also hear motorbikes during the scene where Judah and Messala are talking in Judah’s courtyard. Kingdom of Heaven is all about the age of the Crusades but in some of the horse scenes you can clearly see orange cones on the ground helping to direct their route. Spartacus is another epic featuring Kirk Douglas as the slave who leads a violent revolt against the might of the Roman Empire. The film has many mistakes including visible wrist watches and sand shoes on a number of slave extras, Antoninus is wearing a Rolex and there is a truck clearly visible in the background of one of the battle scenes. Braveheart is completely inaccurate from a historical point of view and it also features some comical mistakes. During the battle scenes there are various extras with modern running shoes and wrist watches on. When Wallace’s wife is killed watch the background to catch a glimpse of a white Ford Transit van. When the magistrate rolls down the hill you can see his jeans through the chain mail and during the rock throwing contest when the camera cuts to Wallace there is a man wearing a baseball cap on the left of the screen. Another awful attempt to dramatise Scottish history came along with Rob Roy starring Liam Neeson. There are a few comical mistakes including a fluorescent light in the pub and a scene where Rob Roy talks to a group of highlanders and you can see a modern adhesive bandage on his hand.