Idealism vs. truth vs. box office

We watched The Last Samurai last night, and I tried really hard not to think of Tom Cruise’s recent Scientology wackiness. I liked the movie because I am a sucker for films that have subtitles and cool costumes. But they could have called it Dances With Wolves and Eats Sushi.

The movie made me think of an old struggle – why is it that filmmakers are allowed to manipulate historical truths and nobody screams about it? I had a sneaking suspicion that the Japan depicted in the movie was not historically accurate. I was right. Here’s another take on the story.

But not many kids are going to do the research.

Good story, bad history… does it matter? It does to me.

Another movie that made me crazy was The Patriot. It was chock-full of historical manipulations and outright lies. Way too many kids saw the movie and thought it was what really happened. How can we run a decent democracy if we don’t understand our historical foundations?

Authors are held to a high standard of historical accuracy. That is a very good thing. We are happy that librarians and educators and experts check up on us. And yes, historical interpretation is a tricky thing, at best. I just wish that filmmakers would aim for the same standards.

Anyway… consider this my Monday morning rant. (I’m working on another one about a certain health insurance company in Florida that is giving my mom a hard time. Grrrr….)

The good news?? Now I want to read everything I can about Japan’s transition into an industrial society. Can anyone recommend a good book?

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