Friday, March 4, 2011

The Cinema of History

     I got a lot of feedback from my last post, detailing the spread of democracy shown as grinding at a high school dance. I heard that by writing history in a new way it made understanding it easier, and increased people’s willingness to maybe pay attention to something historical. Actually, I didn’t hear any of that. I just needed a justification to write two history-related posts in a row. So sue me, jerks.

     But since we’ve already covered tarnishing the Statue of Liberty’s flawless reputation by depicting her grinding with what I had always assumed to be a high-school age Uncle Sam, where can we go with history now? One thing that I think is under appreciated about the subject is that how mind-bendingly cinematic it can be. We’re jaded in our current times by seeing things like a leader of a country willing to open his country’s armories to the general public in a time of rioting, and we fail to realize just how good of a movie some things in the past could be.

Gaddafi can't stay awake during the real thing, much less a movie.
     Now, we all know that Hollywood is made up of producers that pick their projects based on whichever script can be rolled up in order to snort the most coke, but there are chances for decent movies based on real events. If they’re made more historically accurate than we’d usually encounter, some movies would supplant those that we have the ability to make up on our own. Like Charlie Murphy once said, “We have a lot of great storytellers in the world, but who can make that s**t up?” Of course, he was talking about karate-kicking Rick James in the chest, but it stays true for those events we’re used to reading about only in our history books. But enough with my stupid justifications, on to the movie pitches. These are only some of the ones I can think of, and all the events take place within two centuries of each other, barely a blink of the eye in the grand scope of things.

1.       1. Cortez and Montezuma
      The story of the Spanish conquest is one of great sorrows for anyone who’s not European. Massive disease, pillaging, and colonization resulting in the African slave trade are just some of the side effects of the Spanish really really wanting to find a route to China. But not everything about Spain’s conquistadors was an effort to completely decimate the surrounding peoples.
     After hearing about the Aztec’s great wealth, Spaniard Hernan Cortez decides to travel to their capital city Tenochtitlan. As a side note, I had more trouble spelling Spaniard than Tenochtitlan. There he finds the Aztecs’ leader Montezuma waiting for him on one of the causeways leading into the city. Ignoring the advice of his high generals, Montezuma decides to listen to his priests instead, and allows the Spaniards into his city. As in the whole army Cortez had brought with him. And this was no sightseeing tour; the army stayed there for three months. I can only imagine the Aztecs viewed the strange pale people with lisps as we view the guy who crashes on our couch for weeks at a time. And also has a lisp, although that’s unrelated.
     But in these three months, something strange happened. Cortez and Montezuma, complete opposites on paper, grew to have quite the friendship. Cortez taught his friend how to play chess, and Montezuma (or Monty, as I’m sure Cortez began calling him) took his new European buddy out sailing on Tenochtitlan’s many lakes. Despite being born not knowing the other’s entire continent existed, the two became best buddies. When the totally evil governor of Cuba realized “Hey, maybe I should make sure that Cortez actually steals all this gold instead of becoming best buddies with some Indian” he sends a back up force to make sure Cortez didn’t just die or some such. Hearing that a new army was coming, and fearing for his new best bud’s safety, Cortez races out personally to stop the reinforcements and instead turn them to his “Hey Monty’s a really cool guy, he lets me play as Boba Fett every time” viewpoint.

There was some trouble getting over the whole "human sacrifice" deal.
     However, when he’s gone (successfully) wooing his reinforcements to his side, tragedy strikes as the Spaniards Cortez left behind decide they’ve had enough of this stupid hospitality the Aztecs have been showing them, and take over the city in their leader’s absence.
     Cortez comes back, probably strutting at the front of a giant army talking about how they’re totally going to hit up Tenochtitlan’s strip clubs with Monty, to find the city in flames and his best bud dead at the hands of his men. How’s that sound as a movie?
     P.S. The romantic interest for Cortez is a native named Lady Marina whom he totally bangs a ton and gets three kids out of.
     Genre: Tragic buddy film
     Title: Conquistadors!

2.        2. Squanto’s travels
     Imagine back to what we learned about the Pilgrims, especially related to Thanksgiving. These English people come to America, build their town on the land that was once occupied by living breathing Indians. However, thanks to germs, now the land is open, with only a couple corpses to move. But as winter sets in, Pilgrims begin realizing that they maybe should have done some research into how to grow some food. Enter Squanto, an Indian from the tribe that had originally lived where the Pilgrims now did. Squanto, against the wishes of other tribes in the area, helps the Pilgrims learn how to farm effectively, and later everyone rejoices with a three day feast and a postponement of slaughter for at least two more years.

"No, retards, the seeds go in the ground."
     But the thing about Squanto is that he knew perfect English. How was this possible? Slavery, of course! Squanto was captured, taken to Spain, where he was freed by a kindly master. Then, to earn his way back to his homeland, he worked on farms in England, learning many tricks and techniques. That he later taught to some English colonists. Imagine John Winthrop’s (the city on a hill guy) surprise when a naked Indian walks out from the trees, and speaks to him in the King’s English. Hell, this naked guy probably knew better English than we do today.
      Squanto begins a life of teaching English people English things, and becomes a sort of mentor to the people who would later take over the whole continent.
     Genre: Mentor movie. (Is that a genre? Just think Hoosiers, but with farming instead of basketball and smallpox instead of the star player being out)
     Title: Harvest Moon (On the poster it’d have to show Squanto’s bare ass)

3.         3. The Ultimate fish out of water
     The year is 1492. A redhead Italian is working for the nation of Spain, and he’s not too good at math! Luckily, an entire continent is in his way, which really kinda works out in the “fame and fortune” department. I speak, of course, of Christopher Columbus. This man discovered certain islands that ended up being part of two major continents.
     Can I digress for a second? Two things. One- Yes I know you can’t discover a country where millions of people already live. But for all intents and purposes, you can. Just like every thirteen year old boy discovers an activity that billions before him have, but he still treats it like his own invention. Secondly- Can you imagine living in a world where you don’t know there’s another entire half to the world?
     So for the first half of the movie we have wacky road trip comedy but with ships instead of the father-in-law’s expensive car. On the trip Columbus has to deal with his secondary captains of the Nina and Pinta being goofy Portuguese, trying to take the glory for him at any time. Options are open from ship to ship pranks, signs, all sorts of things.
      The second half of the movie involves Columbus finding land and then having to deal with an entire race of people nobody knew existed. New languages, new cultural traditions and norms, and new STDs must be learned and worked around for success. Hilarity ensues as Columbus’s men are misunderstood in humorous ways. “No, I didn’t want to be bit, I just wanted some food!” It’ll play great in Middle America. Also, there has to be a harem of hot Indians for T&A.
     Genre: Hard R comedy
     Title: Land Ho!

     So whenever Hollywood grows some balls I’m more than willing to let my dreams of seeing a factually correct yet still highly interesting story be prostituted as long as I get 15% and merchandising rights. You read correctly, I want money for any movie that replicates these actual events. Cause that’s just how the world works, bud.

Not for children under 3 years old,

Mick Dickinson

1 comment:

  1. Am I the only one who thinks Gaddafi looks like he's on Celebrity Poker?