It Showed! #Pilgrimage Scriptwriter On Historical Fiction


A bit infuriating, but it cemented what I got from him during the Q & A. But hey, the film seems to be very popular so far, so who cares, I guess?


28 thoughts on “It Showed! #Pilgrimage Scriptwriter On Historical Fiction

  1. Gawd.

    Honestly, nobody has to make an accurate or a meaningful historical film. Historians get that. We really do. It’s the hullaballoo about “oh yeah, I really did lots of research on this!” that gets me.


    • I keep thinking of that stack of books he tweeted – at a time, BTW, when the screenplay should already have been written. I found the article offensive, and I’m neither an historian nor a scriptwriter. One other mistake I saw, and I did a post on this before hand, was that the hairstyles he selected for the Normans were a few hundred years out of date.


    • “If you disagree, feel free to shout at me at the internet because that’s what the internet is there for*.”
      Est-ce un dialogue par médias interposés son intervew / vos blogs de fans: Perri Servetus, Guylty…?
      Je n’ose plus écrire sur mes vacances en Irlande, par peur de cumuler à mon tour des erreurs historiques, géographiques, culturelles…


  2. Pingback: The other thing that’s particularly galling | Me + Richard Armitage

  3. that was kind of disturbing. I hope he was being self-depreciating for a laugh instead of really approaching script writing in that way. he starts out by saying you should do all kinds of research, then he basically says to throw it out and just make sure you have a canon for the world you’re creating. while it’s true that nothing would get done if we held out for perfection, there’s something to be said for pride in one’s work. I’ve not seen the film, and the flippant attitude I saw in this article won’t have me running out to change that fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the problem (and I too wondered if there was something self-deprecating at work, or there’s some kind of Irish humor there I am not familiar with) is that it’s hard to claim simultaneously that you’ve done a lot of work or that the film is a meaningful comment on religion (to be fair, that’s been more Muldowney’s line than Hannigans) when you give an interview like this one. Like: either it’s intended to be solidly historical and meaningful, or it isn’t. But not both.

      He’s written a total of one feature length historical film. It’s not like he has a vast fund of experience to draw on in making these prescriptions.


      • I think you have put your finger on the problem, Serv. From the perspective of someone who is familiar with Irish attitudes (or with how Irish celebs tend to present themselves in public exchanges) Hannigan displays the typically Irish brand of self-deprecation. It’s an attitude of “never get above your station”, kind of hypercorrecting his own pride in his work, I think, trying to avoid the begrudgery that is typical for Ireland. I.e. he wants to share his insights and make recommendations, but he is aware/afraid of being taken the piss out of, for saying that “you have to study hard” – so he takes back his statement and turns it into a joke.
        That said – and all the justified criticism of the anachronisms in the film aside – there is a certain amount of honesty in this, don’t you think? Never mind whether he really did as much research as he claims, but at least he does admit that it is mere lip service to the greater aim: to provide a commercially successful entertainment product.
        (BTW – just to clarify that I do not think the film is perfect at all.)


        • I mean, seriously: just say “the movie was supposed to be entertaining, so I didn’t spend to much time on research.” That would be true, at the very least.

          Liked by 1 person

            • I think part of the problem for me, too (and I won’t get into this too much because I have other things to do today and I assume no one is as interested as I am) is that Jamie Hannigan is the friendly, plausibly liberal version of something that’s a broader theme in public discourse right now and very prevalent on the alt-Right: the idea that history can be whatever we want it to be. Because not much reliable is known about Matthias, we can say anything we like about him, acc. to Hannigan (and a lot of other people). It’s a style of argumentation paralleled in Holocaust denial among other places. Because we don’t have film of every moment of it, we can’t make deductions; because x event didn’t happen here, it didn’t happen anywhere. Because we can’t know something exactly, we know nothing. Hence, we can do and say what we like (This is patently ridiculous — if this were true, we could basically skip modern medicine). Mary Beard is involved in a controversy right now over the ethnic makeup of the population of Roman Britain that is essentially based on this same idea — because we can never count exactly how many Romans in Britain were of non-Roman origin, there were none there. (cf. ).

              I’m not asserting that everyone should be concerned about issues like. But I do believe it is legitimate to care about how history is depicted. Medieval history is a field that’s now being appropriated by white supremacists in a way that we haven’t seen since the 1930s and 40s; it’s one of the big topics of discussion in the field; how do we get these people to stop making such willful errors? Hannigan is, I assume, not a white supremacist. But his level of “research” is about on the same level and proceeds along the same paths. IMO this film is very remarkably anti-Catholic (based on anachronism, or whatever Hannigan thinks the Church was in the MA), and anti-Catholicism is also often a component in the baggage of the alt-Right. He may think telling a good story is the only important thing about what he does, and I suppose that’s his right, but I am disturbed by his cavalierness in all of this, as if he does all of this outside of some other context just because he isn’t aware of it. (If I don’t know about it, it doesn’t exist — another severe problem in his reasoning.)


              • I couldn’t agree with you more about the whole issue of appropriation (and more-or-less falsification) of history. It is dangerous, and it can easily put the whole sector into disrepute if historians do not speak up about it and set the record straight. There is – as you have pointed out – such a thing as drawing proper conclusions, even in the absence of data.
                I found the film anti-Catholic, too – unsurprisingly, though, because precisely because it was made by a generation of Irish film makers who would come with a very particular kind of experience and baggage re. Catholicism. Ideally, that should have driven them to base their criticism on careful research rather than sweeping generalisations and shoddy anachronisms… As you suggest yourself, I don’t believe there is a white supremacist agenda behind that. I do wish they had all taken the problems presented by the film more seriously – or pointed it out more clearly that what they are presenting is pure entertainment/fiction.

                Liked by 1 person

              • I agree on both counts (a) not surprising to find anti-Catholic Irish filmmakers and (b) if you know you dislike something, you should do extra research on it before making a film about it to avoid just passing on your prejudices.

                I feel like there’s something about indie movies. Since they don’t have the money to make blockbusters, they can’t ever say that that’s what they would like to have made. It has to be about something “artistic” or whatever. They qualified for that with the settings; wow, gorgeous pictures; and with the performances. Just not with the script.


              • Definitely not with the script. The anachronisms etc. aside – I thought it was strangely flat. If you take out the violent fighting scenes, there isn’t much suspense left. But then again – “boring” often seems to count as “artistic” when it comes to arthouse cinema…

                Liked by 1 person

              • I suppose the Irish Film Board wouldn’t have wanted to pay for a straight up shoot ’em up that said what it was on the label, either. Do they get reimbursed the way the MBB does? They should do okay on this one.


              • Tbh, I often wonder how the IFB decides on the projects they fund. I guess it’s all down to how many Irish people are at the helm, how much of a film is set in Ireland, and how much Irish crew is employed…


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