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Author Topic: The history-pedants' guide to The Last Kingdom - episode one  (Read 2627 times)

Thorsteinn

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The history-pedants' guide to The Last Kingdom - episode one by LindyBeige



Thought I should share this.
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"That leaf is wrong."

HA!
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Great! Now my computer monitor is covered with coffee. That was hilarious.
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This is what is disheartening about modern medieval television shows or movies for that matter. I sometimes look upon the blissful ignorance of my childhood with wistful nostalgia as I consider the days when it was possible to just enjoy the fantastic scenes of knights and their ladies without over analyzing every little detail like if their garb is period or not. Those days have long passed, enveloping programs I may have once enjoyed in a thick cloak of disappointment.
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Sir Rodney

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This is what is disheartening about modern medieval television shows or movies for that matter. I sometimes look upon the blissful ignorance of my childhood with wistful nostalgia as I consider the days when it was possible to just enjoy the fantastic scenes of knights and their ladies without over analyzing every little detail like if their garb is period or not. Those days have long passed, enveloping programs I may have once enjoyed in a thick cloak of disappointment.

This.  :)
"Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land, nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history." - Roger the Shrubber

Sir James A

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This is what is disheartening about modern medieval television shows or movies for that matter. I sometimes look upon the blissful ignorance of my childhood with wistful nostalgia as I consider the days when it was possible to just enjoy the fantastic scenes of knights and their ladies without over analyzing every little detail like if their garb is period or not. Those days have long passed, enveloping programs I may have once enjoyed in a thick cloak of disappointment.

That's all mental. Block out the history side of your brain, and enjoy the entertainment for what it is - entertainment - and not a historical documentary / educational program. :)
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That's all mental. Block out the history side of your brain, and enjoy the entertainment for what it is - entertainment - and not a historical documentary / educational program. :)

Which is fine when you're watching Game of Thrones, but when a story is supposed to be 'historical' fiction it gets a bit harder if for no other reason than you know that millions of people who don't know any better will come away from watching it and think it's an accurate representation of its subject matter.  Game of Thrones doesn't muddle our modern understanding of the Middle Ages.  Shows like this, Vikings, and others, can and likely do.  A person who doesn't already know the information can't suspend disbelief because they don't know they should be suspending it in the first place.  It doesn't mean all 'historical' dramas should be 100% strict living history accurate, but they can at least pretend to care.  At the end of the day it's just entertainment, and most people really don't care about history much less medieval history, so you can certainly still enjoy it as pure entertainment. It's just that the struggle to suspend disbelief becomes ever harder the more you know.
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The more I think about it, the more I wonder how much historical accuracy would be even be practical for a movie, much less a weekly tv-show. It would go beyond just hiring a capable historical adviser to tell you what you're doing wrong. A lot of it is certainly inexcusable and simply a product of the "cool effect," or lack of knowledge or of effort (back scabbard!), but I imagine some things just aren't reasonable to fit into the average budget/time constraints of production. All those sets and costumes and props don't just materialize out of nowhere.

Why go through all the extra expense of making a proper spoke wheel that you'll only see on-screen for a few seconds when it's much cheaper and faster to just glue some boards together and cut out a round shape? Stick a painted PVC pipe through it for an axle and there you go.

And those of us who do actual reenacting know how expensive it can be to get period-correct kit. Would the return of having to garb a hundred cast members in elaborate, colorful, period-correct clothing be worth the cost? Or is it more cost-efficient to just follow the tropes and throw some ragged furs over cheap, brown, tunic-like things. Though I have to admit, even thinking from a filmmaking perspective, the king's getup shown in that video is embarrassing. ;)

I would love to see how far a production company could get in trying to be as accurate as possible instead of taking the lazy route. See how much of it really would be possible to do if they just put in a little more effort, and how much simply isn't feasible to do on an average budget.
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So a Norman, a Saxon, and a Viking walk into England....

Thorsteinn

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Lloyd also did this vid. Explains a lot really.

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Re: The history-pedants' guide to The Last Kingdom - episode one
« Reply #10 on: 2016-02-22, 13:53:23 »
I've been of the mind that it wouldn't do much to increase the bottom line of a film- this is probably the main reason why historical accuracy isn't pursued as heavily as we'd like it to be in cinema and TV.  Historical fiction being what it is, you can almost expect 99% of the writers to take liberties here and there with things they don't know or can't be bothered to research.  When something like that is to be made into a show or movie, more things will fall by the wayside as they struggle to keep to their budget.  If it doesn't equate to substantial additional dollars over and above what they project to earn- it isn't going to happen, pretty much.  I hear the same arguments time and again and I've always come back with the same thing: expectation of historical accuracy in a Hollywood construct is unrealistic.  Sure, having period correct, arms, armor, accoutrements and the like would be awesome- for the likes of us who could appreciate that bit of extra.  Joe Public?  Would recognize NONE of that- it also wouldn't add or detract to his/her particular experience a single iota.  Can't miss what you don't know.
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Re: The history-pedants' guide to The Last Kingdom - episode one
« Reply #11 on: 2016-02-22, 16:03:21 »

Yeah, this show was interesting. I enjoyed the story-telling, particularly in the first few episodes, though I thought the story meandered quite a bit later on in the season. But when it comes to authenticity? Yeah... it's no better than any other movie or show.

I think of it more as loosely historically inspired fantasy. ;)
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Sir William

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Re: The history-pedants' guide to The Last Kingdom - episode one
« Reply #12 on: 2016-02-22, 16:23:03 »
I just watched that snark clip about The Last Kingdom.  Hilarious!  I've read the series, I think its 8 books so far, 7 or 8.  A page-burner, its hard to put down; with that said the author himself took certain liberties w/regard to period dress, customs and warfare.  Not to the extent the show did- in the books, only the rich can afford maille, everyone else is in boiled leather and/or ringmail jacks (you know, the ones where the rings do not overlap) and tallboots, some of the wilier ones have iron strips sewn in for hidden defenses.  Shieldwalls are horrific events and everyone carries a spear- which is usually thrown or tossed aside before the walls strike- then its a shoving match with sharp implements being hooked and looped over the opposing front shields.  He does get gritty with it, and its enjoyable to read.  I take it for what its worth, you know?  Historical fiction is just that and you never know what you're going to get until you've read it- and I do get the argument that first timers will automatically assume its authentic and true because "its in the movie (or book)".  Unless they're understood to be historical treatises or cited research, best to do your own due diligence because like as not, it'll be inaccurate.
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Sir James A

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Re: The history-pedants' guide to The Last Kingdom - episode one
« Reply #13 on: 2016-02-28, 15:52:52 »
That's all mental. Block out the history side of your brain, and enjoy the entertainment for what it is - entertainment - and not a historical documentary / educational program. :)

Which is fine when you're watching Game of Thrones, but when a story is supposed to be 'historical' fiction it gets a bit harder if for no other reason than you know that millions of people who don't know any better will come away from watching it and think it's an accurate representation of its subject matter.  Game of Thrones doesn't muddle our modern understanding of the Middle Ages.  Shows like this, Vikings, and others, can and likely do.  A person who doesn't already know the information can't suspend disbelief because they don't know they should be suspending it in the first place.  It doesn't mean all 'historical' dramas should be 100% strict living history accurate, but they can at least pretend to care.  At the end of the day it's just entertainment, and most people really don't care about history much less medieval history, so you can certainly still enjoy it as pure entertainment. It's just that the struggle to suspend disbelief becomes ever harder the more you know.

They say ignorance is bliss, so, I can stay happy. Never seen this show either, but as a general rule I assume nothing is completely accurate unless it's presented as a documentary. Something like Assassins Creed that features historical places, events, and people, still isn't *all* history; always take a period source as validation if you can. :)
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Sir William

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Re: The history-pedants' guide to The Last Kingdom - episode one
« Reply #14 on: 2016-03-01, 16:36:07 »
Of course to view any of the previous episodes you have to buy them.  *sigh*

Guess I'll just wait to see it.

Sir James nailed it- a la AC; you'll get some history (era, major players, "le Dark Ages") but expect a lot of license to be taken.  There are too many books for them to follow it closely but if they get the major plot points they will have done well.  Really good series of books.
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