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  • Writer's pictureShaun Lewis

Another example of screenwriters' distortion of history and defamation of heroes

I have asked this question in a previous blog. Why do screenwriters distort historical events so much? Over the weekend, I watched the film, Zulu. It is a brilliant film and one I have enjoyed many times, so much so that this time I felt inspired to read more of the actual history of the battle at Rorke's Drift.

It came as a disappointment, therefore, to discover that one of the characters, Private Hook VC, was in fact a model soldier. In the film he was portrayed as a drunk, malingerer and a thief. Apparently, the screenwriters wanted to include an anti-hero who could redeem himself during the course of the action. In which case, I ask, why not make up a character instead of maligning a real person? I understand the film offended Hook's two daughters and one can understand why. Similarly, the Reverend Witt was neither the drunkard nor ardent pacifist portrayed in the film.

In my novels, I am always careful to change the names of fools, knaves and cowards to protect the sensibilities of their descendants. Why upset people when one doesn't need to?

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