A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Henry Halboth
Date: 2016 Dec 7, 23:50 -0500
Alan S, you wrote:
"why, respecting technical activities shown, Hollywood seems duty bound to reformat and or change details, in the process sort of screwing things up?"
We're just nitpicking after all, Alan. And there's fun in that! --so long as we don't take ourselves too seriously. Often nitpickers imagine trouble where there is an alternative interpretation that resolves the problem. For example, someone (Internet source?) described the scene in "Legend of the Lost" as "trying to fix the location of a distant camel train." That makes the scene sound stupid, but it's a complete misinterpretation. That's not what's going on! There's a famous visual in the Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away" where we see that he has drawn an analemma on a cave wall marking the Sun's position at some time of day. Nitpickers assert that it's impossible since his watch has stopped. But this assumes the main character has no technical knowledge of time. Yet it's established early that he is obsessed with time. It's quite possible that he was familiar with the analemma's shape and implications and drew it as part of his makeshift sundial because it gave him a way of tying himself to civilization and science. It could be a simple mistake... nits for the pickers. Or it could be part of the character's backstory that didn't make the final cut.
More generally, the technical details are omitted or simplified in fiction, especially in Hollywood films, because technical details are boring --unless, of course, they constitute a "selling point" for the art. The movie "The Martian" last year was based on a book which was cleverly marketed on the basis of its technical plausibility. That author was in tune with the zeitgeist, as they say, and that's what science fiction fans wanted for a couple of years. But fashions come and go. The pendulum swings... swashbuckling fantasies with no pretensions of technical accuracy will return in no time. For nautical dramas, technical detail can be tremendously valuable in print but murder on film. Consider all the technical detail in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels. Fans loved it. But movie audiences threw popcorn at the screen while watching the main character in "All Is Lost" working up celestial sights. Can calculating a line of position ever look good on film??
I love movies. I passionately love movies. Let me put it this way: on a scale of 1-to-10, celestial navigation for me is a 5 and film is a 9. Do I go to the movies to satisfy my "inner nerd"?? Sometimes, yes! But for the most part, great movies are about drama, and like all fiction, their impact is emotional and intellectual. And my "inner nerd" should just shut up and enjoy the popcorn!! ;)