Sunday, May 29, 2016

Historical films

I don't particularly like horror films so I may not seek out the movie Philip Jenkins is writing about here. His enthusiasm may overcome my reluctance. I do like his broader point about films with historical settings. It is annoying when a film just doesn't get things right.
I...enjoy historical films, but I have the problem of an imp who sits on my shoulder and constantly nags about points of detail: Look, that hairstyle is a decade off! Oh my, they would never use that word then, that’s an anachronism. It’s even the wrong century! And that costume uses a color that just was not available then. I still enjoy the films, but I am aware of the inconsistencies.

With that in mind, you know what is wrong with The Witch, what is out of period? Absolutely nothing, nothing whatever, and I can’t remember when I ever said that about any film. The houses and farmstead are impeccably reconstructed. Even the dialogue is flawless, and that is virtually impossible to get right. As a historical vision, this is as close to perfect as you get. It may actually have been filmed by using a time machine to visit Connecticut in 1635.

To use an odd analogy, the last time I thought that about the dialogue in any historical film was the Coens’ True Grit, not what we normally think of as a historical epic. But that was perfect too, in its way. I think you should see True Grit twice, the second time wearing a blindfold so the gorgeous visuals don’t distract from the dialogue. ....