Argo and Django Unchained: Oscar Nominees With Historical Inaccuracies

18 Feb

With the Oscars fast approach we decided to look at two films in the Best Picture category to see how historically accurate they are. While many of the films in this category have historical inaccuracies they are minor compared to our chosen films.

Argo

Argo has three major historical inaccuracies. The film claims Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi been Shah (or Shahanshah which is a title given to Kings of Iran) since he was placed in power by the 1953 Iranian coup d’état. In reality he had been Shah since 1941 when Iran was still a constitutional monarchy. The 1953 coup d’état had overthrown the Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh and the elected government and gave Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ultimate power. The film also claimed that the Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh had been voted in by the Iranian populous. However the Prime Minister was actually voted in by members of Parliament.

The second inaccuracy was the down play of Canada’s, the UK’s and New Zealand’s roles in the rescue of the American diplomats. Some Canadian critics were not impressed that the role of the Canadian Government and their Ambassadors was reduced and America’s increased. The truth was that they were on more of an equal level. Also angry at their depiction was the UK and New Zealand diplomats. The film claimed that they dismissed the refugees but in reality they both helped out as much as they could (New Zealand offered a safe house for the American diplomats, food and entertainment at the Canadian Embassy and also drove them to the airport. The British embassy originally took in the diplomats however it was decided that it was still not safe enough for them and moved them to the Canadian Embassy).

The last inaccuracy was the trip to the bazaar, the confrontation at the airport and runway chase at the end of the movie.  It never happened but that wouldn’t make for an interesting or exciting ending! [1]

Django Unchained

Django Unchained has two major historical inaccuracies. In the film, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, the plantation owner Calvin Candie, enjoys Mandingo fighting (forcing slaves to fight to the death). However Mandingo Fights are just rumours. For one it was illegal to kill a slave or to give them cruel punishments at the time the film is depicted in. Secondly, slaves were expensive to buy so killing them would not be financially prudent for a plantation owner! The second inaccuracy is the feature of a Ku Klux Klan like type group. The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1865; seven years after the time the film took place and no other known group existed before that date. [2]

These changes bring up many questions. Would the real history be too boring for audiences? If they weren’t were the changes necessary? Is that something that will affect the Academy voter’s choice too? Is it important for an Oscar winning film to be historically accurate? We won’t find out some of those answers till this Sunday but we can shoot the breeze about the two films and past and present nominated films in the discussion until we find out!

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argo_%282012_film%29#Historical_accuracy

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Django_Unchained#Historical_accuracy

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49 Responses to “Argo and Django Unchained: Oscar Nominees With Historical Inaccuracies”

  1. parisienne February 18, 2013 at 6:22 PM #

    Ozzie,

    Awesome article! I can’t see the video because its blocked in the US. That’s my favorite scene too. QT really makes asses out of the KKK.

    • littlebells February 18, 2013 at 7:00 PM #

      I loved that QT portrayed them that way. I read that they were called The Regulators and after the Civil War became known as the KKK.

      • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

        Thanks Paris! I will try and find a video that everyone can see.

        LB, you are correct! They were called The Regulators in the film.

        • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 8:13 PM #

          Can that be seen? I have to bow down to QT. I was ROTFLMAO when I saw that clip! That scene really points out the absurdity of the KKK!

          • Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:21 PM #

            Hahaha! That’s a great scene. Its like watching a dog chase its tail.

  2. littlebells February 18, 2013 at 7:02 PM #

    Ozzie!

    Great article. Fortunately I have seen both films and love each. I googled accuracies/inaccuracies after I saw each and knew that the airport scene in ARGO was apparently a cake walk compared to the film. However, I didn’t seem to care as I knew the ending and the suspense was fantastic. Gotta have a little dramatics. What I DID appreciate was the side by side photos of real life and scenes as they were rolling credits.

    • parisienne February 18, 2013 at 7:25 PM #

      I still have to see Argo. I heard last night that it has been nominated for every award in some capacity. Its up for an Oscar for best adapted screenplay

      • littlebells February 18, 2013 at 9:39 PM #

        I think you will truly enjoy it. Very well made and acted.

        • Comic Relief February 19, 2013 at 7:40 PM #

          I think its Ben Affleck’s best movie to date.

          • littlebells February 19, 2013 at 8:16 PM #

            I agree although The Town was fantastic as well.

      • Open Book February 19, 2013 at 1:10 PM #

        Yes, U must see Argo it was great. Very compelling from beginning to end.

        • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 7:29 PM #

          Thanks LB! I agree with the changes at the end for Argo. It would of been boring without them.

  3. Open Book February 19, 2013 at 1:08 PM #

    Ozzie!

    Fantastic topic!!! U bring up some great questions in your article.

    U stated: “Would the real history be too boring for audiences? If they weren’t were the changes necessary?”

    Me: IMO movies need to embellish to make conflict, a climax and arcs etc… in 90 min. They are entertaining people first and to do that requires bending the truth. I think in Argo its odd Canada and the UK was overlooked in helping the hostages. I don’t think it would have taken away from the story if they gave them credit.

    • Comic Relief February 19, 2013 at 3:33 PM #

      It doesn’t appear that you meant it this way, but very funny article. I expected a lot more historical accuracy from “Argo” than “Django” (which I thought was a fantasy from the beginning.)

      Obviously the depth of misunderstanding reinforced by historical inaccuracy is great and I appreciate how well you have illustrated the point.

    • littlebells February 19, 2013 at 7:27 PM #

      I’m trying to remember OB, but at the end of the film when they were giving the “what happened to so and so”, did they mention how important Canada and the UK were?

      • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 7:52 PM #

        Thank you OB! And CR you are correct! It was meant to be funny. A lot of the news this week or so has been either deaths or Oscar predictions. So I decided to put a twist on it (plus it was a question I had been asking myself too)! It was meant to be light hearted article! 🙂

        I agree with you OB. It’s got to appeal to an audiences so I do understand bending the truth a bit. I was blind doing this article as I’ve only seen Beasts of the Southern Wild out of all the best picture nominations, but I would of thought that it could of been mentioned that the UK and New Zealand embassies did help out but the refugees had to move the Canadian Embassy because it was more secure. It’s the truth and it would still make the film gripping.

        • Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:03 PM #

          Great twist! Plus u rarely hear about the flub ups around award season. Especially if its a Oscar contender.

          • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 8:31 PM #

            True! They do like to smooth things over even more around award season time. Plus I thought Zero Dark Thirty could do with a rest, lol! Taking out the torture debate it only has very minor mistakes.

            • Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:37 PM #

              U know what I thought the torture debate was over the top for Zero Dark Thirty. I mean the torture on Youtube of the Gitmo detainees was far worse than the movie.

              • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 9:11 PM #

                I agree. I think that the protestors do mean well but I think they only understood half of the message. By trying to stop the film they’re stopping the message, which is to bring torture to light and get people to start questioning it for themselves.

                As for the politicians I kind of understand them less! The US has admitted “Enhanced Interogation Techniques” were used about 10 years ago but it was stopped. Maybe it’s because the film fits in 10 years of history but if you weren’t following the news about the film you’d think it was a recent thing and that it is still on going. I can understand that. But if it’s a pride thing, I don’t understand it. It happened, you admitted it, don’t try and sweep it back under the rug. Besides they’re not the only country who used to use it. I know the UK did but most likely other countries used it too.

      • Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:24 PM #

        LB- I don’t think Canada or the UK were referenced as a major participant but I would need to see it again to be sure.

        • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 8:34 PM #

          I know Canada was but it was worded wierdly (although that could be me being my usual tired self). I’m not sure about New Zealand and the UK.

          • Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:39 PM #

            Ah! U are probably right. I’ve seen so many films in the last two days my head is spinning. Hahaha!

            • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 8:51 PM #

              That was some movie marathon! My head would be spinning too!

          • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 8:45 PM #

            Canada: Macleans asserted that “the movie rewrites history at Canada’s expense, making Hollywood and the CIA the saga’s heroic saviours while Taylor is demoted to a kindly concierge.” The postscript text said that the CIA let Taylor take the credit for political purposes, which some critics thought implied that he did not deserve the accolades he received. Affleck changed the postscript text to read, “The involvement of the CIA complemented efforts of the Canadian embassy to free the six held in Tehran. To this day the story stands as an enduring model of international co-operation between governments.” When interviewed, Taylor noted that, “In reality, Canada was responsible for the six and the CIA was a junior partner. But I realize this is a movie and you have to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.” Taylor is also shown threatening to close the Canadian embassy in the movie; in reality, this never happened.

            It was Afflect’s other statement that seemed worded wierdly but from rereading it, it sounds more like a quote from somewhere and probably sounds better read out live.

            “Because we say it’s based on a true story, rather than this is a true story, we’re allowed to take some dramatic license. There’s a spirit of truth”, and that, “the kinds of things that are really important to be true are—for example, the relationship between the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. stood up collectively as a nation and said, ‘We like you, we appreciate you, we respect you, and we’re in your debt.’…There were folks who didn’t want to stick their necks out and the Canadians did. They said, ‘We’ll risk our diplomatic standing, our lives, by harbouring six Americans because it’s the right thing to do.’ Because of that, their lives were saved.”

            I think it’s a bit of “he said, she said” kind of thing going on between Canada and the US, lol!

          • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 8:50 PM #

            I don’t know if anything was mentioned at the end of the film like Canada but New zealand and the UK got this quote from Ben: “I struggled with this long and hard, because it casts Britain and New Zealand in a way that is not totally fair. But I was setting up a situation where you needed to get a sense that these six people had nowhere else to go. It does not mean to diminish anyone.”

  4. Open Book February 19, 2013 at 6:43 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 7:54 PM #

      Hi OB!

  5. Open Book February 19, 2013 at 7:10 PM #

    Ozzie,

    I wondered what others thought were the most historically inaccurate movies. Turns out quite a of people like to claim Mel Gibson is wrong, (a great deal of the time). This is John Campea’s list:

    10) 10,000 B.C.
    9) Gladiator
    8) 300
    7) The Last Samurai
    6) Apocalypto
    5) Memoirs of a Geisha
    4) Braveheart
    3) Elizabeth: The Golden Age
    2) The Patriot
    1) 2001: A Space Odyssey

    http://themovieblog.com/2008/10-most-historically-inaccurate-movies/

    • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 7:20 PM #

      Hello Everyone! I hope you are all well! 🙂

      • littlebells February 19, 2013 at 7:24 PM #

        Hi everyone! Sorry I am late. I was editing…:)

        • Comic Relief February 19, 2013 at 7:39 PM #

          Hi OB, Ozzie, and LB

          • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 7:53 PM #

            Hello LB and CR! No worries LB. I’m in slow typing speed mode today!

            • Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:08 PM #

              Hi Oz! Take your time!

    • littlebells February 19, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

      I’m sorry but I have to laugh because who in their right mind would EVER think 10,000BC was even close to being accurate. Unless someone time traveled and interviewed folks back then…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

      • Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:07 PM #

        ITA LB another reason why we need time travel. So we can compare the biopics and historical dramas. I will put in my vote for it. Hahahaha!

        • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 9:15 PM #

          I’d vote for it too. But I’d have to be searched and restrained in some fashion if I were to go because the urge to show them technological things in order to see them freak out would be very strong!

  6. Comic Relief February 19, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

    OB,

    Great list; here’s some of what I found. “The Times” agrees with many of the movies on your list. But they have some additions of their own.

    1. U-571
    2. Braveheart
    3. 10,000 B.C.
    4. The Patriot
    5. Pearl Harbor
    6. Apocalypto
    7. Amadeus
    8. Gladiator
    9. The Young Victoria
    10. Marie Antoinette

  7. Comic Relief February 19, 2013 at 7:38 PM #

    Ozzie,

    Much like everyone else I liked both movies mentioned in the article. speaking of the blogoshere, seems you aren’t the only person who want to keep these bio pics honest.

    Gibson has done a lot of historical movies.

    Leonard D. has starred in a lot, (most of which I have liked).

    I’m surprised you have not found him appearing in more flawed movies?

    • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 7:59 PM #

      Who? Leo or Mel? I’m not a fan of Mel so I haven’t watched alot of his films, lol. With Leo’s films I haven’t got arond to seeing them yet. I really want to see J. Edgar!

      • Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:04 PM #

        Ozzie- Leo did a great job as J. Edgar but the film isn’t very good IMO.

  8. Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:13 PM #

    Did Argo and Django make u want to learn more about the actual events before or after u saw the film?

    • littlebells February 19, 2013 at 8:18 PM #

      Yes they did!

      • Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:21 PM #

        Before or after u saw the film.

  9. Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:43 PM #

    Ozzie- U said: “Is it important for an Oscar winning film to be historically accurate?”

    Me: No, I think if a film inspires u to seek out more information on the topic then it was successful IMO!

    • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 9:20 PM #

      It’s definately great if it inspires people to look into the subject for more details but some won’t. I just hope the former is a larger group than the latter!

  10. Open Book February 19, 2013 at 8:46 PM #

    Everyone, I have to go for the evening. Ozzie great topic and article. Now I will need to go watch Argo again. Hahaha!

    Goodnight!

    • ozzie20 February 19, 2013 at 9:25 PM #

      I’ll be off to. I’ve had alot of fun tonight! 🙂

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