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Another Great Story Made Boring

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trailers | January 18, 2010 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trailers | January 18, 2010 |

It’s amazing how boring film makers must think history is, what with how many edits they feel compelled to make as they crib stories wholesale from dry old tomes. No true story has ever been so inherently interesting that it couldn’t benefit from a few cliched additions like a love interest, a personal rivalry, or especially an anachronistic ethical code conveniently similar to modern sensibilities. One wonders why filmmakers even bother trolling through histories and biographies at all if they find them so exhaustingly tedious in the first place.

There’s nothing new under the sun, a hundred billion or so people have lived and died over the span of human history. There’s a compelling insanity to digging through those long dead decades. As you go further and further back, people are more and more alien, more removed from anything resembling our experiences, and yet there are always those threads of humanity that stay constant: love, anger, betrayal, birth, death. The emotion resonates over the centuries.

But small minds can’t abide by complexities, compelled to scratch at them like a child ripping at pox until all the nuance is scraped away. In case there was any doubt that history had a few interesting things happen, think about just the last hundred years or so. A hundred million people died in war in the last century. Concentration camps, atomic bombs, machine guns. We invented such wonders that anyone from a hundred years previous would have insisted that spirits were at work. And to appeal to the most prurient: sex happened. Lots of it. We have it on good authority through the evidence at hand that at least six billion acts of sexual congress occurred at some point in the last century.

Take the story of the Red Baron as a perfect example. Flying a scant decade after the Wright Brothers’ Kitty Hawk adventure, in cloth and wood contraptions mounted with machine guns, he shot down more enemy aircraft than any other pilot in the first World War. These planes could fit in most modern living rooms and flew slower than your car’s top speed. Pilots didn’t yet get parachutes. And in the end, he wasn’t bested by another pilot, but fatally wounded by a single bullet from an infantryman’s machine gun. The Baron managed to land his plane in a field, but by differing accounts was either dead when Allied soldiers reached the plane, or taking his last breaths.

Ah, but a movie would be so much more interesting if there was a friendly rival on the other side! And they could both get shot down and have drinks together in No Man’s Land! And there just has to be a cute nurse to be the love interest and moral center! If he just has to die at the end, wouldn’t it be better if the rival shoots him down? And the nurse sneaks across enemy lines to go to his funeral?

Fuck you Hollywood.

*Listens to earpiece*

Wait, this was a German film? And it bombed there so they’re releasing it here?

Wow, it’s an entire other level of creative bankruptcy to not even bother making the creatively bankrupt film yourself, since you can just rerelease other country’s creatively bankrupt dreck.

Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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