U.S. History in Film

Prof. McClurken’s HIST 329 — Fall 2008

If you liked it, what else could you want?

In response to the other blogs and people who detest this movie’s historical inaccuracy, I don’t care terribly much about it. For one, I don’t even think it’s that great of a film, even for all its fabrications. The film does the same job other Westerns do of perpetuating the myth of the old west as, well, we already discussed it to be. It had a lot of stereotypes (don’t all westerns/most movies of the era?) and a good, believable setting. The only difference is that it implied that this was truth. If people like the popular image of the Old West, who among them really cares (excepting we historians) to find out it if this likeable legendary man is fact or fiction, and risk spoiling their image of him? I mean, really, how many of us cared that much about Wyatt Earp and tried to analyze the movies before this week? This character so marginalized in history that few people know the realities of his life?

After all, as Dr. M. told us, when John Ford was confronted about the film’s historical inaccuracies, he asked something akin to, “Well, did you like it?” [man said it was his favorite] What else could you want?”

The difference between this film and Pocahontas is that this does not mislead people of all ages, all around the country, about some very significant events in our nation’s history and the relations that had such a strong influence on the actions of the earliest settlers. But that’s a whole other story, 8 weeks old. I won’t dwell on it.

I was asked to spell out the sounds (accompanied by gestures) that I used to help articulate a point I made in class discussion…. Clementine’s role was just to be someone to make Doc be like “eehhh,” and for Chihuahua to be all “rrrrgh!” about….

Also, I have a question. So, there’s a town in the middle of the desert. Dr. M. talked about how people were dirty and didn’t bathe often, and that makes a lot of sense especially in the desert, without much water for bathing. But there’s enough water for a town, nonetheless (although perhaps not as much as the alcohol there). Were there a lot of wells? An underground reservoir that a silver strike chanced to be near? And the very night the Earps arrive in town chances to be one with a rainstorm.

Similarly, did anyone notice how there were always clouds in the sky? Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there very few clouds in the desert? The clouds depicted were obviously immobile, by the way. What’s wrong with having no clouds? Was that too much to ask, or were the filmmakers covering something up?


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