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Hollywood's Lens: The Glamorization of Historical Events

By Evyn Roliz

The allure of Hollywood movies often comes from the blending of fact with fiction for increased audience engagement. Films like "Napoleon" and "Oppenheimer," both recently released, have sparked debates over their portrayals of historical events and figures.


“I think Hollywood directors often like to embellish historical events because they believe their viewers would not find what actually happened interesting enough to tune in to,” junior Madhav Shibu said.

Hollywood's desire to play fast and loose with historical accuracy isn't new, with "Napoleon" being the latest example of a movie that faced criticism for its significant departures from historical truth. This approach to movie production can blur the line between fact and fiction for audiences.

Source by Zahra Mazkur

The artistic liberties taken by Hollywood often alter the true events that take place.

"Oppenheimer," on the other hand, is loved for its storytelling, and even though it did face scrutiny over historical discrepancies, there is an agreement that the changes increased the film's suspense. On the other hand, Ridley Scott's "Napoleon" removed significant historical facts, such as Napoleon's reinstatement of slavery in the West Indies and the impact of the Napoleonic Code, leading to significant backlash.


This issue extends to earlier works like "Gladiator," which faced similar critiques for its portrayal of the Roman Empire.


“For all the things [Gladiator] gets right, it gets a lot of things wrong... I think the main character, Maximus, is exaggerated to the fullest extent. I think a lot of his speeches were not things that actually happened, but things to make him more relatable and more heroic,” social studies teacher Mr. Chuba said.


Many students believe that historically inaccurate movies such as these have a negative impact on audiences due to the fact that they may provide viewers with a false sense of understanding of real historical events.


“I think it can have a harmful effect on viewers because younger generations of people who don’t find the time to further understand history will believe that whatever they see is true, which means they will misinterpret history,” freshman Amy Jigon said.


While opinions vary, the consensus is clear: consumers should enjoy historical films, and they should also do personal research to avoid misconceptions.


“If you don’t take that second step [of individual research], I think it hurts you in the long run. You can use [film] as a gateway to get people interested in something, but you can’t be an expert off of only these movies, unfortunately,” Mr. Chuba said.


Ultimately, most of NHP believes that movies should serve as a gateway to delve deeper into history and a catalyst for educational exploration, especially if audiences are willing to distinguish between the spectacle and the actual events they depict.


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