People with more refined cinema viewing have watched at least a few black & white movies and/or period pieces. I was very glad that when I was growing up, my dad made me watch historical movies for certain periods in history. Way back in the day, I watched Alexander the Great, with Richard Burton as Alexander. We then watched Quo Vadis, with Peter Ustinov as Nero, and Deborah Kerr. I learned to appreciate these older movies, and while I do like the modern movie, I know the older movies (and historical pieces) should not be cast aside. Sadly, they are. Why is that?
Well, first of all, public schools do not teach history. They teach a watered down bunch of crock they call ‘social studies’. Every time somebody says social studies, I want to vomit… but I digress. That is one of the reasons that period movies don’t do good at the box office, and they are sadly underappreciated. However, period series get a cult following. Vikings has many followers (including myself) that look forward to its return every year (even though they did kill the lead character [spoiler alert!]). Downton Abbey drew audiences in from all over the world and was a huge success. Turn also has become quite popular with American audiences and presents a pivotal time in our history in such a way that most viewers can understand and value it.
So, why do period series do better than period movies? A puzzle indeed! My theory is because a series presents an extended time frame, during which, the audience develops affinities with certain characters, good guys and bad guys. Anybody remember Master & Commander with Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany? That was unsuccessful at the box office, but it had so much potential. I feel that they need to remake it, but instead of doing a movie remake, turn it into a show. Patrick O’Brian had so much material for writers to work with. If you read the books, the characters go through roller coaster adventures. Capt. ‘Lucky’ Jack Aubrey goes through financial troubles, and it is revealed that Dr. Steven Maturin is actually a spy for British Intelligence. You see for a snippet in the movie how good a swordsman he is. If they had made more, we could really have seen the good doctor show his stuff!
Another reason why this lack of historical appreciation bothers me is because I love The Scarlet Pimpernel. Back in 1982, Anthony Andrews played Sir Percival Blakeney and he did a superb job. In 1999, the BBC did a mini series for The Scarlet Pimpernel and they had Richard E. Grant play the dashing British aristocrat. It has been 10+ years since the Pimpernel has been seen on screen. Plus, British actor, Tom Hiddleston, has said that he would love to play Sir Percy. If you’re wondering where/when he said it, it was during an interview with Zachary Levi on Nerd HQ for Comic Con a couple of years ago. He had three choices: Captain Blood, Scaramouche, and The Scarlet Pimpernel. I was so happy when he said The Scarlet Pimpernel. I believe the copyright for it is up as well, so if somebody wanted to say… maybe… want… to make the screenplay I wrote for it into something, I would be all for that. Although, I will probably expand on it and make it either a mini series (like the 1999 BBC version), or turn it into a full blown season. Don’t know, but will figure it out.
I will probably do more posts about the sad loss of period pieces and how they are under appreciated. It just breaks my heart that most people my age don’t get that type of entertainment. I think they need to be educated. Time to get your history on!
And on that note, it’s been real!