by Paul Hartman

~ The Western ~

      The long camera angle views the stagecoach as it follows the winding trail through what is now the familiar landscape of Sidona, Arizona, the occupants of the stage unaware that a thousand yards ahead, behind a turn, and hidden by rocks, wait at least 500 Indians. The stage coach passes that point unharmed, THEN the Indians give chase, firing at the driver and occupants with arrow and bullet. The hero climbs to the top of the stage, and with a (seven shot) lever-action Winchester carbine, kills at least a hundred of the Indians (without having to reload) before they give up the chase.
      Wait a minute. If the Indians shoot ONE HORSE, the chase ends immediately. They NEVER think of that!
      But wait again. Different scene. This time it is 4 white guys waiting for the stage. When the stagecoach gets to the concealment point, they jump out IN FRONT of the stage and stop it dead. Why don't the Indians ever think of THAT?! Guess that's why they LOST THE HEMISPHERE to a bunch of displaced Europeans.

~ The Camelot/King Arthur/Knights/Etc Movie ~

      The camera skims along the tree line to rise to about a hundred feet and there, in the distance, is the castle, beautifully crafted of stone, a drawbridge over a surrounding moat, a large pointed portcullis sealing the massive entry.
      Wait a minute. King Arthur and the Knights existed in the 6th Century, when forts were made of wood sitting on top of a large earth berm, around which was dug an empty ditch. It would be 500 years before the English would learn how to build forts out of stone, like the Romans had built 600 years earlier. Okay, ignor that part.
      Inside the castle, King Arthur is in counsel with his Knights. It is morning, and there is no danger of attack (after all, they are supposedly inside stone walls 30 feet high) but they are all wearing armour. In fact, stainless steel armour. Not just smooth stainless steel armour, but armour with sharp points at the shoulders and here-and-there elsewhere! In fact, if this scene follows a night-time one, the knights would have been seen earlier making love in this armour.
      Wait a minute. In the 6th Century, body protection, at most, was chain mail. Shields were made of wood. Swords were iron. Horses were really ponies. Saddles had no stirrups. Okay, let's try something else:

~ The Pirate/Warships-at-Sea Movies ~

      The long camera angle captures two 3-masted square-rigged 18th Century warships headed toward each other for the battle royal!
      Wait a minute. These square-rigged ships travel in FRONT of the wind. They can't be headed in opposite directions. Okay, well anyway:
      Once within range, the firing begins. Ka-BLUE-ee!! A good broadside from the pirate ship (we are assuming they have the audience sympathy) catches the (French? Spanish? English? but never American?) warship amidships and explosions are everywhere, as masts crumble and fires begin immediately and blaze brightly!
      Wait a minute. We've all seen those cannon balls at historical sites and theme-parks: they are solid round iron balls! They don't explode! They hit something and they go KA-PLUNK or maybe THUNK! Starting a fire was never expected: the object was to poke a hole in the side of the other ship below the water line and wait for it to sink! Or - knock the mast down and set the ship adrift. Sure, if you fire a hundred and twenty iron balls at once at the enemy ship, you will do some serious damage, but you need LOTS of iron balls. And hey - if you've got a fire going on your ship, its most likely cause was from a malfunction of your OWN CANNON!

* * * * *

Pity the man who never read a history book, who derives all his history from Hollywood legends. He has learned nothing, but thinks he has obtained quick wisdom in the form of entertainment. Might as well hold your tongue though - so many Americans have seen 18th Century cannons cause things to explode that you will be thought stupid if you say otherwise. So many Americans have seen Sir Lancelot ride out of a stone castle that you will be thought strange if you claim such a fort was made of wood. "Hey man - ain't ya seen the movie??"

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