Certain movies can be like an old friend; they bring you comfort, give you great advice and you can even finish their sentences. It’s fair to say there are a handful of historical movies which are just classic, and universally loved by all.
Well, that was what I thought until I checked out their one star reviews on a certain online marketplace… Turns out, much like Marmite, historical movies divide opinions.
Even if you would give all the following films five stars, you can’t help but agree with some of the following reviews…. Yes some are over dramatic, historically inaccurate or ruined by an Australian playing a Scotsman …but we love them, and our Sundays nights wouldn’t be the same without them!
(The following films are featured on IMBD’s Top 50 Greatest Historical Movies of all Time list)
Dissatisfied Amazon Consumer:
Fake Bible Story
By ********* This review is from: Gladiator (2000) – Two Disc Set [DVD] (DVD)
This production is probably financed by some religious fund. If we look at the boring religious elements, mostly stolen from other movies, I personally prefer “Ghandi”. Great decorum, costumes and scenes are nearly annihilated by cliche text, bad acting and power music and sounds. This production with its stereotyping false and fake sentiments is no match compared to “Galicula”. Even the battle scenes are worse compared to i.e. “Best of the Best” or “Beowulf”. The moral ending is in line with present day indoctrination for the youth i.e. “Titanic”: follow the woman and sacrifice for a woman.
Disgruntled Amazon Consumer:
Wee Mel Makes A Duffer
By ************* This review is from: Braveheart  [DVD] (DVD)
I believe Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders told the story of William Wallace more accurately than antipodean Mel. Also the disembowelling scene at the end! Only an arrogant Hollywood leading man would think that a mere grimace was in order before yelling the word “Freedom”. Tragic but fun. Can’t believe it won Oscars. What were they thinking? Perhaps a better title would have been Carry On Scotland.
Passionate Amazon Consumer:
Shaving Ryan’s Privates
By ****** ******* This review is from: Saving Private Ryan [DVD]  (DVD)
Nice effects, shame about the storyline … which could more or less be said for all Stephen Spielberg’s movies. In this the boy who never grew up gives us another boy who never grew up, Tom Hanks, postulating he is a US Army Captain with a fondness for leading his men into suicidal missions, including direct attacks on bunkered machine-gun positions. Ordering them to attack tanks without dedicated anti-amour weapons is another murderous past time of his, and in the final scene he loses nearly all his men defending a bridge that should clearly have been just blown up. To make matters worse he has little control over his crew, who often openly disobey his orders and gladly murder German soldiers when they surrender with their hands in the. Of course a film could be made about such a complete idiot, who probably existed in abundance, but the incredible thing here is that we as viewers are supposed to take a liking to this extremely incompetent and irresponsible officer. With Dale A. Dye as adviser we are ensured some rough battle scenes, but it all looks a lot more like Vietnam than WW2, and the fighting is often so fierce that in real life no one could have survived it (a problem Spielberg solves in the climax scene by letting the same soldiers die several times over). On top of that we get the usual symptoms of someone without a clue making a war movie, such as soldiers hiding from enemy bullets behind plank fences, not covering themselves properly behind walls, shouting at each other on patrols, preferring sentimental discussions over preparing their positions etc. etc., and of course the film gives the usual impression that WW2 was won mainly by foot soldiers, who threw themselves at enemy positions with no regard for their own lives, as if artillery, air force, navy etc. had practically no influence on the outcome. Worst of all we are subjected to some old-fashioned John Wayne pseudo-philosophical dialogue with the music turned up in the background and the old red, white and blue waving behind the characters. Unbelievable in every meaning of the word.
Displeased Amazon Consumer:
What a load of rubbish!
By ******* ******* This review is from: Elizabeth  [DVD] (DVD)
I have now seen this a total of 5 times and this is one of those rare movies that gets worse with each viewing. Not only does it make a mockery of history it even has the gall to give you a few lines at the end as to what happened to some of the characters. Why would they add these only to get them all wrong? It’s insulting to the audience. This movie is overly dramatic, badly acted and hideously inaccurate…Avoid it at all costs, unless of course big skirts and old castles is your thing. I hear now that this fraudulent director is considering making a sequel? Someone stop him please. Why will anyone take on bringing the excellent story of Elizabeth to the big screen after this fool has butchered it so utterly?
One does wonder why she watched it FIVE times…
Not on my Christmas list
By ******* ********* This review is from: Schindler’s List [DVD]  (DVD)
Hard to know where to begin with such a dreadful mish-mash of half-digested dogma and badly-regurgitated received opinion. Spielberg might benefit from some reflection, some insight and about a litre of mescaline if this is his attempt at history. Just how you go from Goonies to this defies belief. This sort of dirge is not exactly foreshadowed by the themes expounded in Hook. The barren intellectual landscape of pure slurry that is Poltergeist hardly presages a vision of the Holocaust. Five minutes in Yad Veshem, any given moment from Shoah (thanks S.H.) and every one of Anne Frank’s words is more profound than this. This is a guilt-assuaging offering by a man who discovered his conscience and his religion (but still no talent, apparently) only when he ran out of rubber sharks, singing spaceships and latex dwarf aliens on bikes.
It’s made in black and white but the past was in colour if you were there. Leni Rienfenstahl used the same monochrome stock. Good reference, Stevie, you dink. It’s not a Duran Duran video, you know. The film might be black and white, but guess what, the truth isn’t. Schindler procured the Polish army uniforms planted by the Nazis to provide a reason to violate Poland’s borders in 1939. 70 million died as a result. Hmm. The scene to really curl your bangs, though, is where the women are herded into a shower which is – REALLY A SHOWER! What a relief! Cos I thought, you know… No matter that prolly 100% of other folk who – oh, never mind… This is feel good Auschwitz, mortifying, just mortifying. Easy targets, scatter-shot morality, pat characters and zero contextualisation add up to a betrayal of those who the movie purports to represent. More anti-German non-characterisation from the man who previously brought you such revealing portraits of the human condition as The Truck, The Dinosaur and The Rubber Whatever Spider Thing (frightened me, anyway). This is one of those films which are horrifying for exposing the idiocy of those who appreciate them. Two people coming out of JFK, one is heard to say “Yeah, and apparently it’s based on a true story!” If you didn’t think the Holocaust was simply apocalyptic for humanity before you saw this you’re lucky your ignorance hasn’t caused another one. Spielberg sitting on his white horse overlooking other people’s experience for profit and fawning reviews is ghoulish and does not engage with the utter depths of human experience to any degree. His Hollywood sensitivity is perfect for informing such towering columns of culture as 1941, The Money Pit, and – what’s this? – The Adventures of TinTin? – but cannot express the complexity, the depravity and the scale of the death of even a mayfly, let alone a race.