Howard Zinn dismisses trivial in history movies





"Lawrence of Arabia" twisted the facts behind Europe's carving up the Middle East after WWII. Cate Blanchett was way too young to play 52-year-old Queen Elizabeth at the height of her power. "300" went over the top in making Persian king Xerxes 8-foot-tall.

The list of films that take liberty with historical fact is so long, in fact, most historians no longer bother pointing out their inaccuracies to a public more interested in entertainment.

Long-time history professor, political activist and playwright Howard Zinn knows all about that, but brushes it aside. Here's a historian, after all, who will take even Ken Burn's account of the U.S. Civil War to task for concentrating too much on the heroism of military generals instead of the common people who lived through the war.

"The greatest danger in films based on history isn't necessarily that you will be told something false, but that the emphasis will be on trivia," Zinn said from a hotel room in Santa Monica in advance of a trip to Utah. "To me, the most common distortion of history is done through emphasizing the least important facts of historical events."

Anyone who has read Zinn's best-selling history book, 1980's A People's History of the United States , could such a comment coming from miles away. At 86 years old, Zinn's legacy of chronicling accounts of the United States' working poor, dispossessed, oppressed and struggling stands, not just as an exercise in left-wing politics, but a noble and necessary act of unearthing untold narratives....



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