I’m not totally sure I’m taking your meaning here. So you don’t mind when directors/writers/ect deviate from history but also there’s a criticism at The Greatest Showman in that last sentence.
I’m passionate about this. I feel very very strongly that if one wants to write about history, they take on a sort of authority. If you’re going to write alt-history, that’s fantastic! Please do. But I think it needs to clearly delineated. Readers, watchers, whatever should be able to tell that it’s an alternative or speculative.
Yes, we can never get a perfect view into a the past. People lie in records, documents are lost, the story and cast gets distorted by time. And that’s nothing to say of the lies of omission, where you can just leave out information to mislead people. That’s not an excuse to not try to remain faithful, to try and express the truth as closely as possible.
Because at the end of the day the interpretation of history that you express artistically might be the only one you’re audience ever sees. Of the people who go to see The Favorite or Greatest Showman or Marie Antoinette who is going to go home and fact check? Unless you’re passionate about the subject, one might never know they’ve been deceived, either intentionally or accidentally.
What of the biases that someone brings to project? If they’re English and genetically predisposed (I’m joking here, just to be clear) to hate the French, when they write about French history, how are they going to portray it? Fairly? They way they were brought up? Along their own ideological lines or beliefs?
I wish I could be more relaxed about this topic, but these days I’m so suspicious of everyone’s motives when they portray/talk about history. It would probably be better if more people understood that media about history is simply an interpretation, not gospel and I’m glad that you do, but until then I really strongly believe that those who write about history need to be as accurate as possible, just to make sure the truth gets told or make absolutely positive that the audience will understand that it’s a fiction depiction.