No Apologetic History in Our Fiction

Ridley Scott’s recent excursions into the “controversial” 12th century and the Crusades via his Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and Robin Hood (2010) films are bittersweet. Scott gets so many things right when it comes to casting and the human story. By his own admission, he is a consumate history buff, and his love for history is clearly on display whenever he makes a historical epic.

But it would seem his love of history stops short of his tendency to subtly revise history in a seemingly apologetic manner, perhaps to make it more palatable to the production, the studios, and his audience. There is so much in the way of politics during the filmmaking process. I thoroughly enjoy Scott’s historical work (revisionist history aside) and I like to think that Scott loathes the need to cow-tow to studio execs and industry critics. Only he knows that.

For myself, I cannot abide revising history to suit my preferences. The human being is a corrupted creature since Eden and this cannot be revised. And why should it? History reminds us consistently that we cannot save ourselves. It also shows people genuinely striving to be better than their nature, and people fighting against those who would inflict wanton death, terror, and injustice on others. The people, despite the clothing, knowledge, and technology of their age, are not much different than those of us living in this present age.

These people are the heroes of history, and just because some of them live within the confines of fiction does not give a storyteller the right to revise important historical contexts. Grail Quest Books will never apologize for the experiences of its historical characters, nor revise the history we depict in our stories.

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