What are some famous anachronisms in movies

The anachronism - when Robin Hood wears designer clothes

Boo! Uh! Bad! Bad! - Those were the reactions to this year's Robin Hood. One reason for the antipathy of the film fans might have been some anachronism in the film. And for that matter, Robin Hood is not all that alone in 2019 ...

Robin Hood wears Belstaff. At least that is how it looks. No, the man is not traveling in coarse cotton, not even in rags of leather. The jacket he's wearing fits like a tailor-made, slim cut, functional and with neatly crafted seams. The man has style and appreciates quality! So if this Robin steals from the rich to give to the poor, he'll be making a few Gold coins for a skilled tailor from. At his side: Maid Marian, perfectly made up, whether in the sun, rain or uprising, the hair done, the dress Skin-tight and with a deep neckline. The lady, it seems, stands in the castle bath at least as long in the morning to make herself pretty as she later works in the soup kitchen to help the poor population.

"Bullshit!" - Sorry for the expletive language. But basically that was the spontaneous reaction of the common film fan to the first trailer pictures from the this year's Robin Hood. Meant is the film with Taron Egerton in the leading role, with Jamie Foxx in the supporting role and with U2-Bono's daughter Eve Hewson in the make-up role. Oh, and with Ben Mendelsohn as the bad sheriff of Nottingham, who opted for Star Wars: Rogue One. “Bullshit!” - What did it ignite? Anger of the spectatorbefore he even saw the movie? Quite simply: The first impression is "Robin Hood wears Belstaff". And that's ridiculous, because Belstaff has been around since 1924, but not since the 13th century, when the first ballads about the charming lawbreaker with the social streak made the rounds.

Black Hood Down

anachronism - So we are dealing with a pretty foreign word. An anachronism describes a wrong chronological classification or merging, be it of people or things, events or simple ideas. And the latest Robin Hood film adaptation is full of anachronisms. So are here no unintentional film mistakes meant - Taron Egerton does not accidentally wear a wristwatch in the final battle against the sheriff. Rather, the film is targeted well-known pictures from modern times: The crusade in Arabia is reminiscent of impressions from American soldiers in Iraq or Black Hawk Down. Nottingham, with its blast furnaces and metal factories, has industrialization quite evident 500 years before the rest of the world discovered. And in the end the Occupy movement is walking through the streets and rebelling against the sheriff. And and and…

The verdict on Robin Hood and its anachronisms was devastating. The film fan came, saw and complained - and was right: the new edition of the well-known material went mercilessly at the box office under. Quite a few viewers had their problems with the - mind you: seriously presented - modern paintwork. The fate of Robin Hood was reminiscent of the fate of another English folk hero barely two years earlier: Da came King Arthur in the cinemas. With the look of a high fantasy à la Lord of the Rings. But also with the handwriting of director Guy Ritchie. And that means: Ritchie prepared the well-known story about King Arthur like a London gangster story. Needless to say, Charlie Hunnam is also a budding feudal head of state in a modern leather suit ran through the picture. That was all very cool, but also met with little approval from the audience.

Middle Ages light

You really have to be aware that when we see films, i.e. films that are set in the Middle Ages, then we take them actually churning out Buying anachronisms without giving us much thought. You don't even have to start with the make-up of the female actresses. It's about much more everyday things: The protagonist, whether king or outlaw, has always halfway washed hair, halfway white teeth and a halfway handsome physique that cries out for a nutrition plan and personal trainer. That brings us to the suspension of disbelief. That means: To a certain extent we are only too happy to take the disturbing feeling that something is wrong with what we see on the screen for our pleasure. The lovely prince with the toothpaste smile - is ok. The Robin Hood with the rapid fire bow - nope, he's stupid.

Robin Hood 2019 - Medieval Punk

Oh, there is actually so much good, no, interesting in there. Robin Hood in 2019 really goes to great lengths to transfer its old English legend into the here and now. My highlight: a big banquet in the middle of the film, where the costume design was allowed to let off steam. All the party attendees look like they've just pulled over from the 80s and Terry Gilliams ‘Brazil at the same time. Medieval punk, so to speak. But there are also other nice approaches: Visually, Robin Hood becomes a modern comic hero à la Batman (or Robin, hey). In terms of content, the Sheriff of Nottingham follows the thread of today's populists in order to keep a war going. The thing is, some insane producer put enough money into the project that it could all have become a great genre bastard. But dramaturgically, the film is limited to a redundant and therefore tiring sequence of Robin's raids and the sheriff's next hate tirade. In one sentence: The new Robin may look crisp, but it is written in a rather mushy form, the anachronisms are the smallest problem there. - 5/10

The dark cliché

But it's also a bit difficult for filmmakers: The Middle Ages were roughly enough from the year 500 to the year 1500. In other words, the short historical blink of an eye that lasted from antiquity to modern times. How do you want to pack this ridiculous millennium into 100 minutes of film without inevitably a couple of centuries on the line stay? Middle Ages are just Middle Ages! And by that we mean: muddy paths, dirty people, half-timbered huts, superstition and a general level of human development just above that of a primate. OK. It would be like making a film about World War II in 2500, in which orders are given on clamshell phones and soldiers in better carnival costumes run around. But if it's for storytelling

Anyway - just as an insert: Our picture of the epoch is badly falsified anyway. Let's think of the Middle Ages, let's think to the "dark Middle Ages". The wrong description came up as early as the Renaissance, because at that time people wanted to distance themselves from what had just been. Every new era just feels a little smarter than the old one, which of course cannot be completely dismissed. And this picture has persisted to this day. The name of the Rose, so the film with Sean Connery, is always mentioned as a laudable example of the portrayal of (late) medieval life. Because director Jean-Jaques Annaud was not only interested in the story of novelist Umberto Eco, but in the time of the plot itself.

But if you take it exactly: the film is pretty dark too. By the way, the year 1327 is written there. Robin Hood is slightly older and the legend of King Arthur is around 800 years further in the past.

Dixie loos in Sherwood Forest

Robin Hood, by the way, seems very prone to anachronisms. This not only applies to the 2019 version, but also to the 1991 version with Kevin Costner. Morgan Freeman plays the Moors Azeem, who is not only more enlightened than his European friends and enemies. No, he seems too through space and time to have traveled. After all, he knows gunpowder (who invented it - the Chinese), binoculars (made in Holland, est. 1608) and even caesarean section (they existed in ancient times). It's clear what message the filmmakers wanted to send with this character. But that's contemporary just as dubious like the melting furnaces and railroad tracks in the current Hood variant. Incidentally, Mel Brooks expanded the anachronisms from the Costner film a bit: In his spoof heroes in tights there are sneakers, sunglasses, Dixie loos, Jackhammer, moving company - and of course Playboy magazine, even in Braille.

So anachronism ... An anachronism will also become in rhetoric used and there gladly as a form of archaism, i.e. by using the typical language styles of two different times. This creates friction, which makes people sit up and take notice: “You are welcome to assume, Frau Countess, that today a real shitty weather prevails? ”And the main task of a film is to make people sit up and take notice. It was not for nothing that Samuel Goldwyn once said that a film must start with an earthquake and then slowly increase. The anachronism is the ultimate earthquake. Take for example: the Wild West and optionally two submachine guns like at the beginning of Time Cop or a motorcycle like in The Adventures of Lyle Swann.

But ok, these are not historical material, but time travel stories. Something like that is literally apt. Big like a DeLorean in 1955 or small things like the simple expression "strong". Today one would say “extremely blatant”, which in turn would not fit the year 1985.

Laser Knights from Outer Space

By the way, there is another genre in which we do not even perceive anachronisms as such. Let's just think of lovely knightswho fight for good and for peace. Of noble disposition. Not with steel blades in your hands, but with laser swords. And not on horseback, but in small, agile spaceships. Star Wars is certainly the most famous example of archaic motifs that are transported into high-tech space. By the way, if you take a closer look, you will notice: There are seldom modern democracies in spaceThe authors prefer to fall back on well-known feudal systems of rule like those that prevailed in the Middle Ages. Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers send their regards.

King Arthur - The editing specialist

Does anyone remember Snatch? Or jack, queen, king, grass? Well, please, then you know what to expect when it comes to Guy Ritchie: Jump Cuts, Cross Cuts, Match Cuts, Fast Cuts and tons of other quick and stylish cuts and transitions from scene to scene, from setting to setting. He has done this with all of his films so far, even with the universally respected Sherlock Holmes films and consequently with King Arthur. The true art of this new contribution to the Arthurian legend is then also the technical: Ritchie really does everything here so that the film plot is not linear, but sawed, parallel, in flashback and foresight, so as not to allow anything like convention and boredom . At times he does it so well that the viewer can barely follow. It doesn't matter, because King Arthur is pop! Scenes do not end in climaxes, but rather in punchlines. And the film is not an epic, but a gangster story. Hats off, Mr. Ritchie, you kicked that old guy's ass. - 8/10

Arthur vs. Locke

The nice thing about anachronism is actually: In the mirror of bygone times an anachronism says more about today than a picture from today itself. Take Monty Python and the Knights of the Coconut. King Arthur (sic!) Meets a dirty (sic!) Peasant couple and reveals themselves to be their ruler. Whereupon his counterparts ask who he is elected king have. No, no, he was not elected, he replies, that he was made king by the mistress of the lake and by divine providence. The peasants' dry comment: “Strange women who crouch in some pools are no basis for any system of government. The supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the working masses and not from a mendacious water ceremony! "

So this is how King Arthur learns his theory of the state after John Locke and Thomas Hobbes - and the pythons land a smile on target. Locke and Hobbes lived in the 17th century. So how are stupid medieval peasants supposed to find enlightened ideas from the Arthurian legend? It doesn't matter, the audience just thinks: man, Arthur is a fool, Fortunately we are a little further today. How much further we are is shown in the film Knights from Passion, which is set in the 14th century: It is only superficially about lancing, but rather an underdog-fighting-his-way-up-story. Of course that Heath Ledger as Medieval Proll overcomes all class barriers with self-confidence and heart, gets the girl and becomes a real knight. What works today, or at least should work, was also possible then ...

Knight, hero, rock star

Meanwhile, there are some guys dressed in medieval clothes in the stands. And they rock to jostling, that is to say a knightly duel - while "We will rock you“Runs by Queen. That makes Heath Ledger not just a hero, but a rock star. And his audience to the archaic variant today's football fans. Director Brian Helgeland brings the ancient hustle and bustle into the here and now. And even offers a third level: Because Paul Bettany plays Geoffrey Chaucer, yes, the Geoffrey Chaucer, the real British writer who not only wrote the Canterbury Tales, but was also inspired by the legend of Robin Hood. Well, in any case, Chaucer has a very modern role in Knight Out of Passion: He becomes practical Ledger's articulate agent and promoter. An anachronism that is a lot of fun in the movie.

Oh, since we're already at Overcoming class and class barriers are back to Robin Hood. This time not to the one of 2019 and also not the one of 1991, but the one of 2010. Director: Ridley Scott. Russell Crowe plays Robin Hood, but previously not Robin von Loxley, but Robin Longstride. He's not an impoverished nobleman, but an archer-Karl-Arsch-in-Dienst who does it similarly to Heath Ledger in Knights of Passion: He takes you dead noblemen's armor and slip into a new role. Funnily enough, Brian Helgeland wrote the script here too.

What's not in the newspaper ...

He is allowed to recycle ideas, because at its core this is a clever one, even a historically conclusive idea: In a time when there is no media and no telecommunications and the poor peasant in the country does not even get to see his own king, who can say with certainty whether someone who has come here is perhaps a nobleman from somewhere else after all?

Well, the 2010 Robin Hood culminates not only in the anachronism that Helgeland is in his script various historical data so bendsas he needs them right now - Prince John wants to succeed his brother Richard, King Philip wants to invade England, the English barons are fed up with their ruler ... No, the film ends with Robin Longstride / Loxley / Hood not quite one insignificant role in the Magna Charter plays, which takes place a few years earlier in the film, namely those 15, and for the first time forcing the boss on the throne to give up part of his power to others by contract. Ok, to the nobility, but at least there are a few more modern vibes. Nobody really thinks about it anymore Errol Flynn in green leggings and with a carnival hat!

A lot of theater

Adapting historical material to modern viewing and listening habits was not something that film directors first came up with. Your Colleagues from the theater and opera have been working with the time trick for quite a while. Today, above all, to radically modernize classics, for example when Hamlet appears in modern combat gear or sits at the laptop, Goethe's Faust gets new modern texts in his mouth or Beckett's wait for Godot has to do without props and only with a spotlight. Siegfried with pump gun and Wotan with a briefcase - this kind of anachronism really belongs to the standard inventory not only on the big theaters, where people are now yawning about it, but also in every small city theater. The contemporary viewer is given either the modern reference formally imposed or made particularly difficult.

It seems particularly difficult for the old lady to have opera. The classical repertoire is well known to the public who contemporary opera, on the other hand, is disturbed rather than inspire them. So how do you give her a makeover? Exactly, with the anachronism! Or at least with ... let's just call it "processing".One of the best-known representatives is likely to be Hans Neuenfels, the grand master and old master of directing theater. That's how it went Aida (the opera, not the ship!) even as a cleaning lady across the stage, Figaro liked to watch TV and Don Giovanni threw Viagra. The examples are innumerable. The anachronism there shows at best that a work really "timeless" is and is still relevant today - if the director doesn't overdo it.

A marginal question that arises is: Why does it take the audience in the theater such gimmicks so benevolently, while the audience in the cinema sometimes find it very difficult? Shouldn't the cinema audience be a bit more innovative and open, after all, they use the newer medium? Well, maybe it's the higher level of abstraction per se In the theater: Where there is only one stage available to depict the world, you make more concessions. In the cinema, however, it has "Photorealistic" to be. In a way, again a suspension of disbelief.

Motley through the ages

Film musicals, on the other hand, have always owned a certain freedom of fools in dealing with reality. The narrative levels tend to become blurred - recently seen very impressively at La La Land. And so the genre can also work with temporal set pieces. The Australian one still makes it especially beautiful Director Baz Luhrmann before: He brought Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet into the present day (see box) and also modernized the Moulin Rouge in Paris a little. As the? The film is set in 1900. A circumstance that does not prevent Ewan McGregor from reading the song To sing "Your Song" by Elton John, So a song from 1970. The film was celebrated for this, by the way.

On the other hand, Luhrmann's film adaptation of The Great Gatsby based on Francis Scott Fitzgerald was criticized. Its story takes place in 1922, but at the parties that are celebrated, you can hear it modern rap from poor people who can't afford a full name: Jay Z, Q-Tip or Fergie. There the musical anachronism affected quite a few viewers inappropriate. Well, no wonder with the music ...

Sherlock Holmes and the Steam Punk

Oh, there is still so much. Like the reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch a double anachronism is - by paying equal tribute to the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle and the '80s series starring Jeremy Brett. Or that the genre of steam punk a very special discipline of anachronism and has almost become socially acceptable - see Wild Wild West with Will Smith as well as Mortal Engines by Peter Jackson, Sucker Punch by Zack Snyder or even the Sherlock Holmes films by Guy Ritchie (which, strictly speaking, are not steam punk , but spray very steamy vibrations). But maybe it was already clear: That Play with the times is quite time consuming.

Therefore, the viewer who spits out at the current Robin Hood or waves away at the current King Arthur, simply shouted: "Come on!“Yes, just a thought, maybe the viewer's antipathy isn't just due to the anachronism - maybe it can just be that the film itself did not succeed ...

Shakespeare in Love - and Fiction!

William Shakespeare lived from 1564 to 1616. His lifetime fell into a very interesting era for England, namely the early modern period, which stretched from the end of the 15th to the middle of the 17th century and brought a lot of upheavals for the country: The The English church became independent, the English economy benefited from the development towards a trading and colonial power. Queen Elizabeth I heralded the "Golden Age", her successor King James I initiated the King James Bible and was happy to comment on religious and political issues. In other words: The plays of Shakespeare came about under the impression of great upheaval.


So it stands to reason that the pieces themselves as well as their creators are often used for reinterpretations and small narrative gimmicks. In relation to the film, this means: Hamlet was not only released in 1997 in a four-hour version of Kenneth Branagh that was very faithful to the original, but also three years later as a contemporary reinterpretation, based in New York. It is no longer about wrangling in the Danish ruling house, but in the Denmark Corporation. But Ethan Hawke and Kyle MacLachlan speak as they do in Shakespeare's verse.


Timeless like love


Musical director Baz Luhrmann did it a bit more colorful with William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. It was shot in the 1990s with the fashion of the 1990s and the pop music of the 1990s, but with the language of the 1590s. What did it say in the trailer? "For every generation, a classic story is as timeless as love itself."


Speaking of love: Shakespeare in Love from 1998 makes fun of it, putting episodes from Shakespeare's life in the context of his plays like Macbeth (first performance 1611) and producing a double anachronism: namely the equation of Shakespeare's lifetime with time in his plays and the film itself as a parable of today's film and culture industry.


Vengeance for four hours Hamlet


Even on (British) television one is not exactly squeamish with versesmith. In Blackadder Back and Forth from 1999, Rowan Atkinson meets not only Robin Hood, but also Shakespeare with the help of a time machine - and beats him up, as a kind of revenge for all the school children who were tormented with his plays for 400 years , uh, will (and for Branagh's called four-hour version of Hamlet). The time-traveling Doctor Who also likes to refer to Shakespeare: Sometimes he helped the master with Hamlet's "To be or not to be" monologue (fourth doctor), sometimes he attended the first and only performance of Love’s Laboratory Won.


The Red Dwarf series quickly turns William into Wilma. And the Twilight Zone, the old series from 1959, brings Shakespeare into the present, where he is supposed to write a television movie, but desperate at the interference of broadcasters and stars (The Bard with Burt Reynolds). Finally, we saw goodwill in the company of angels and demons: In the film adaptation of Terry Pratchett's and Neil Gaiman's book Good Omens, Aziraphael and Crowley attend a poorly attended performance of Hamlet.

Tags Aida, Antiquity, Anachronisms, Anachronism, Antiquity, Archaism, Arthur Conan Doyle, Baz Luhrmann, Belstaff, Ben Mendelsohn, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brian Helgeland, Buck Rogers, DeLorean, The Great Gatsby, The Name of the Rose, The Adventures of Lyle Swann , The Knights of the Coconut, Ethan Hawke, Ewan McGregor, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Feudalism, Dark Ages, Flash Gordon, Gangster-Story, Goethe's Faust, Guy Ritchie, Hamlet, Hans Neuenfels, Heath Ledger, Jamie Foxx, Jean-Jacques Annaud , Jedi Knight, Jeremy Brett, John Locke, Kevin Costner, King Arthur, Kyle Maclachlan, Lightsaber, London, Magna Charta, Medieval Punk, Mel Brooks, Middle Ages, Monty Python, Morgan Freeman, Mortal Engines, Moulin Rouge, Modern Times, Opera , Paul Bettany, Peter Jackson, Queen, Regietheater, Renaissance, Rhetoric, Ridley Scott, Robin Hood, Robin von Loxley, Rogue One, Romeo and Juliet, Russell Crowe, sword, Sean Connery, Sherlock Holmes, playing with time, class barriers, Star Wars, Steam Punk, Taro n Egerton, Theater, Thomas Hobbes, Time Cop, Waiting for Godot, We will rock you, Wild Wild West, Will Smith, William Shakespeare, Time, Time Travel, Back to the Future, Second World WarAuthor Frank