We had four films lined up on our Historically Inaccurate Movie smörgåsbord. The following reviews were aided by live tweets, snappy one-liners and heaps of sugar. This is a bit of a long read, my apologies in advance! I will post these as individual reviews as well.
The first order of business was Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to the 2010 mythological disappointment Clash of the Titans. Basically, Perseus is charged with rescuing his father, Zeus, from Hades and Ares. Hades is killing his brothers to channel their divine power into resurrecting the Titan Kronos. Perseus must travel to the Underworld, aided by Andromeda, Hephaestus and some extremely stupid Greek soldiers.
Running time: 99 minutes
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Inaccuracies vs. The Mythology
- Tartarus is seemingly in the middle of the Underworld vs. “as far below the house of Hades as the earth is below the heavens”
- The house of Hades is made of lava vs. a cold, desolate world surrounded by water (Styx and Oceanus)
- Hades, Poseidon and Zeus are estranged brothers due to Zeus forcing Hades to rule the Underworld vs. Zeus freeing his brothers from Kronos and the brothers drawing lots to determine the realm they will rule
- The gods were able to enter the Underworld vs. nothing still living shall enter the Underworld
- Chimeras had dragon wings vs. lion with the head of a goat, with a tail (possibly ending with a snake head), and breathes fire
- Andromeda was a warrior woman vs. rescued by Perseus, marries him and lives with him at Mycenae
- Perseus was married to Io and had a son named Helius (what the serious fuck?) vs. Perseus marrying Andromeda and having 7 sons and 2 daughters together, while also founding and ruling Mycenae
- Cyclopes were used as guards on Hephaestus’ private island vs. being craftsman and herders
- The origin of the Labyrinth being created by Hephaestus as a gate to the Underworld vs. the Labyrinth built by Daedalus as a prison for the Minotaur at Knossos
- Hephaestus knows the route to the Underworld vs. Hermes being the only god, other than Hades and Persephone, who know the route as he is the one who channels the dead there
- The Minotaur guarding the route to the Underworld vs. Cerberus guarding the gates of the Underworld
- Using Aspis shields for phalanx formation vs. larger, longer shields appropriate for the period
- The Spear of Trium (made of Zeus’s Lightning Bolt, Poseidon’s Trident and Hades’ weird Pitch Fork) being the only weapon that can kill Kronos vs. the gods cannot be killed; there is no such thing as “The Spear of Trium”; the word “Trium” would be Latin, not Greek; Zeus had a Thunderbolt, Poseidon had a Trident and Hades has a Helmet of Invisibility (all used to defeat the Titans)
- Ares’ weapon of choice is a mace vs. a sword, a spear, a shield or even a flaming torch (pick one)
- Four-armed Hekatonkheires vs. one hundred-armed and fifty-headed Hekatonkheires
- Roman and Norse weapons, armour and formations vs. this should not have to be explained
Aside from this film being riddled with historical and mythological inaccuracies, it was also dull. At least they decided to move away from the monochromatic colour scheme of Clash but it was still just another action movie. The CGI already looks dated and the sound balancing made it almost impossible to hear some of the dialogue. Once again, this had close to nothing to do with the actual mythological Titans. Kronos was on screen for all of 15 minutes, maybe.
My rating: 2½/5
Buy or rent Wrath of the Titans on Amazon.
The Legend of Hercules was by far the funniest of the films. Unintentionally so. We found ourselves in hysterics largely due to our inability to hear the dialogue. Unlike, Wrath of the Titans, we were unable to hear anything due to a number of very strong accents among the cast. As a result we decided to fill in our own dialogue.
As the title says, this is the genesis story of the demi-god Hercules.
Running time: 99 minutes
Director: Renny Harlin
Inaccuracies vs. The Mythology
- Amphitryon purposefully killing the King of Tiryns vs. accidentally killing Aclmene‘s father and seeking purification
- Amphitryon’s rejection of Hercules and the murder of Alcmene vs. raising Hercules with the best tutors (many of which were gods) and having a wife that honoured him like no other
- Alcmene turning to the goddess Hera for help vs. Hera hating Zeus’ countless affairs and punishing Hercules by trying to kill him
- Iphicles’ (Hercules’ half-brother) jealousy vs. the brother who died in battle and whose own son became Hercules’ charioteer
- The killing of the Nimean Lion as a chance encounter vs. The Twelve Labours of Hercules as an amends for killing his wife (Megara) and children from a temporary madness caused by Hera
- The source of Hercules’ strength is that he is the son of Zeus vs. Hera’s being tricked into nursing the infant Hercules and her divine milk giving him his power
- Hercules being outcast by his father and sold into slavery by his brother (for gladiatorial games) vs. being raised lovingly be Amphitryon and eventually sold into slavery (not gladiatorial games) by Apollo for the murder of Iphitus at Tiryns
- Hercules’ lover Hebe betrothed to his brother vs. Hebe being Hercules’ sister and no arrangement of her marriage to Iphicles exists
- Alcmene calling Hercules Alcides to hide his true name from Amphitryon vs. his parents dropping the epithet Alcides from his name, to unsuccessfully appease Hera
- Being the origin story of a Greek hero named Hercules vs. his Greek name Herakles
- Roman and Egyptian weapons, armour and formations vs. I shouldn’t have to explain why this is incorrect
- Hercules chained in the Agora vs. this was actually Samson from the bible
- Hercules’ lightning whip vs. his usual club, bow and arrows
Everything about this movie was bad. The lack of clear dialogue, the special effects and terrible acting. The mythology was changed for no tangible betterment of the film. If we had not been half delirious from our sugar rush, I’m not sure we would have been able to finish this monstrosity. I have no idea why Hercules was made into a gladiatorial fighter, other than the filmmakers wanting to show off their 3D filming techniques. The only thing that was correct for the time period was the statues of Hera.
My rating: 1/5
Buy or rent The Legend of Hercules on Amazon.
Truly, the dark horse of the day, Gods of Egypt far surpassed our expectations and was the least offensive when it came to historical and mythological inaccuracies.
Set has essentially stolen the throne of upper and lower Egypt from Horus by killing Osiris. After years of blindness and isolation, Horus accepts the help from a mere mortal in overthrowing his uncle.
Running time: 127 minutes
Director: Alex Proyas
Inaccuracies vs. The Mythology
- Demons in the afterlife vs. that’s not really a thing in Egyptian mythology
- Hathor being seduced by darkness into her role at the usher of the dead vs. being the “mistress of the west” was a great duty revered by mortals
- Hathor being the Egyptian version of Aphrodite vs. Hathor being the goddess of female (motherly, sisterly) love and companionship (Though she was likened to Aphrodite by the Greeks, the Egyptian did not incorporate this into their beliefs)
- Hathor’s bracelet shielding her from being taken back into the Underworld vs. no such item every existed
- Thoth being sassy (though great as comic relief) vs. Thoth being very factual and precise
- Hathor’s ability to control any living creature with her eyes vs. not present in any versions of her mythology
- Isis dying with Osiris, and not once turning into a throne vs. only Osiris’s death is mythologically correct
- A largely white cast of Egyptian gods vs. this should be obvious
This was an interesting stylistic version of Egypt and its mythology. The list of inaccuracies is substantially smaller the previous movies because the filmmakers made it very clear that this is meant to be an almost alternate history. Having said that, the individual gods mythologies and their purposes were largely adhered to, except Hathor, which is the problem with her characterisation. I understand her narrative changing for purposes of the plot but it was unnecessary on the whole. James and I absolutely loved the characterisation and styling of Anubis, and that he was not depicted as an evil or negative god/deity. Similarly, the idea of the rich being granted everlasting life was a fantastic inclusion as at one point in Egyptian history this was thought to be the case. Ra and his celestial battle with Apep was stunningly represented, as well as the world disc. One of my favourite entities was the Sphinx.
It was a fun movie to watch, and it clearly had an enormous budget. The CGI was great and I especially like the gods’ “true forms”, even though everything was gold. The casting was great, as the actor are all good actors, except Elodie Yung. She was just annoying. It annoyed me that the only black actor was automatically the sassy, black character. It was cliched and tired. I would have liked to see more people of colour in this movie but that’s an issue for another day. All-in-all though, this was a fun watch, from an historical, mythological and film perspective.
My rating: 4/5
Buy or rent Gods of Egypt on Amazon.
In keeping with the Egyptian theme, we decided to round our day off with Exodus: Gods and Kings. What a complete crock of shit.
Let me also just get this bit of controversy out of the way before I start: there is no record (other than the bible) or archaeological evidence that 2 million Jews (based on the figure of 600 000 males) left Egypt during that time depicted in the bible. For this reason, I am referring to the story as mythology. It still holds important cultural and religious meaning, just as any other peoples’ mythologies do.
Running time: 150 minutes
Director: Ridley Scott
Inaccuracies vs. The Mythology
- White buildings and statues in Egypt vs. Walls and statuary being colourfully painted
- Miriam and Jochebed living with Moses in the palace, as his servants vs. Moses raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter
- Moses hitting his head on a rock and then talking to a child and a burning bush vs. Moses’ tending a flock and hearing a voice call to him, finding the burning bush and speaking with the angel
- The God of Abraham represent by Malak in the form of a child beside the bush vs. an angel of the Lord appearing inside the burning bush to speak to Moses
- The cause, number and order of the plagues (no lice and no raining fire) vs. ten plagues in order caused by the Lord, who was making Pharaoh refuse to let the Israelites go
- No negotiation with Pharaoh vs. Moses asking Pharaoh to let his people go each day
- No snake vs. Aaron taking instruction from the Lord and casting his staff onto the ground in front of Pharaoh and his men, and it turning into a snake
- The Red Sea moving aside for the wayward travelers, while Moses slept vs. Moses parting the Red Sea with the help of the Lord
This was a boring movie to watch. Epic in scale and as shiny as Gods of Egypt the movie felt empty, slow and lacklustre. The changes to the biblical account of the Exodus worked against the film. In fact, Ridley Scott made it seem like the entire Exodus was the result of a Traumatic Brain Injury or severe hallucinations. I also couldn’t understand why this weird blue filter was used for the entire film. When everything wasn’t blue, it was gold. Fundamental elements of the story was changed for the film, like the absence of Aaron (Moses’ brother) in negotiations with Pharaoh and Moses’ sister and mother living in the palace with him. Further, I haven’t a clue as to why it was sub-titled “Gods and Kings”. The “Kings” I get but the “Gods” not so much. I saw one angry child, which alternated between the Lord and Malak (an angel), and the Egyptian gods were nowhere to be seen. I will say that Isaac Andrews gave a spectacular performance. That kid is going places. Other than that, there is no real reason to watch this movie.
My rating: 2/5
Buy Exodus: Gods and Kings on Amazon.
And that was our Historically Inaccurate Movie day. Many people will argue that mythologies cannot be incorrect as they are just made up stories anyway. What many people do not realise is that to the civilisations to whom those mythologies belong, they were considered historical accounts of the foundations of their civilisation and empire (Rome – Romulus and Remus), they were biographies of, then considered, historical figures (Herakles and Achilles), they were often the basis for religious practice (The Elusinian Mysteries), and the creation stories of their time (Gaia and Oceanus – Greek, and Nun and Chaos – Egypt), meaning that they can only be altered within reason.
Thanks for reading!