Plenty of movies and television series are inspired by true events. There is, however, a difference between being inspired by history and being 100% historically accurate. And it’s fair to say that most viewers are aware of this — it’s why you can generally find articles breaking down what’s accurate and what’s fictionalized in your choice of historically-rooted film or television.
That being said, the majority of works drawing inspiration from history do so at something of a remove, from Ford v Ferrari to The Good Lord Bird. What’s trickier are historical dramas made when many of the real-life people depicted are alive and well. The Social Network is one example of this; the most recent is Netflix’s series The Crown.
The possibility that viewers might mistake a prestige drama for a series of historical re-enactments is, likely, low — but that’s still unsettled some within the UK. IndieWire reports that the UK’s Cultural Secretary, Oliver Dowden, recently weighed in on the issue in an interview with The Daily Mail.
“It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,” Dowden said — and went on to suggest that a “health warning” be added before episodes of the series.
Given that The Crown creator Peter Morgan has written a host of historically-inspired works — including the screenplays for The Queen, Frost/Nixon and The Damned United — one would hope that everyone involved, including viewers at home, understands that these are not meant as verbatim accounts of actual events. But we live in unexpected times, and the prospect of a lavish historical drama getting its own health warning seems no stranger than anything else this year.
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