Medieval Europe Books and Films | Student Handouts
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  The Pillars of the Earth (2010)   The Dark Ages (2007) Documentary Review and Guide for History Teachers   World Without End (2012) Movie Review for History Teachers          
  The Pillars of the Earth (2010)   The Dark Ages (2007)   World Without End (2012)          
Films set in the European Middle Ages are often inaccurate for several reasons, and these inaccuracies can be attributed to a combination of historical, artistic, and practical factors:

Dramatic License: Filmmakers often take creative liberties to make their movies more entertaining and appealing to a modern audience. Historical accuracy can sometimes be sacrificed in favor of dramatic storytelling, which may involve exaggerating characters and events, creating dramatic conflicts, and simplifying complex historical contexts.

Lack of Detailed Records: The European Middle Ages spanned a vast period of time and encompassed various regions and cultures. Historical records from this era can be scarce, fragmented, or biased. This scarcity of detailed records can make it challenging for filmmakers to accurately recreate historical settings and events.

Anachronisms: Films set in the Middle Ages frequently include anachronisms, where elements from different historical periods are mixed together. These anachronisms can include clothing, weapons, language, and technology that do not align with the specific time and place being portrayed.

Modern Sensibilities: Filmmakers often inject modern sensibilities, values, and perspectives into their medieval settings. This can result in characters and behaviors that are more relatable to contemporary audiences but may not accurately reflect the attitudes and beliefs of people from the Middle Ages.

Budget and Practical Constraints: Filmmaking can be limited by budget and practical constraints. Creating historically accurate sets, costumes, and props can be costly and time-consuming. As a result, filmmakers may compromise on accuracy to meet production requirements.

Influence of Earlier Films: Many medieval-themed films draw inspiration from earlier movies and popular culture rather than from historical research. This can perpetuate inaccuracies and stereotypes, as filmmakers replicate elements that have been popularized in previous films.

Cultural Bias: Films set in the Middle Ages often reflect the biases and perspectives of the time in which they are made. These biases can lead to inaccuracies in the portrayal of historical events, cultures, and characters.

Simplification for Narratives: To tell a coherent and engaging story within the constraints of a film's runtime, filmmakers may simplify complex historical events, relationships, and political dynamics. This simplification can lead to a distorted representation of history.

Ignoring Regional Differences: The European Middle Ages were characterized by diverse regional cultures and variations in technology, architecture, and customs. Films sometimes overlook these differences and present a one-size-fits-all version of medieval Europe.

Audience Expectations: Filmmakers may prioritize what they believe the audience expects to see in a medieval-themed film, which can include knights in shining armor, castles, and battles, even if these elements are not representative of the entire medieval period.

While historical inaccuracies in films set in the European Middle Ages can be frustrating for historians and enthusiasts, it's important to remember that movies are primarily a form of entertainment and storytelling. Filmmakers often balance the desire for historical accuracy with the need to create engaging and marketable content. Nonetheless, some films do strive for greater historical fidelity, and there are resources available for those who seek a more accurate portrayal of the medieval period. We strive to focus on those films which are most beneficial to student learning.
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