EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Ours not to reason why

I barely got started on the possibilities when I remembered that I had sorted all this out in December.

However, persevering with "research",  I managed  to fit in viewings of the Charges of the Light Brigade over the last 2 days. The more I see the 1968 version, the more I dislike it as a film, I may not fundamentally disagree with many aspects of the extended diatribe against the English class system but when oversimplification mixes with selective facts and getting things wrong, crossed with one dimensional characters, minimal plot and lack of drama, well it may be a favorite movie of many but its not one of mine.

The 1936 Errol Flynn version on the other hand gets better each time I watch it. At least the factual errors stem from plot demands not socio-political agenda. I'm amazed at how well some of these 1930's films capture the feel of 19thC  military life. Presumably there were enough retired cavalry officers and the like about  to act as advisors. Of course things tend to get away during a cavalry charge but that will happen. The job on uniforms is great, especially in India. There are some minor gaffs such as the sepoys which have appropriate coatees but post-mutiny turbans and light dragoons wearing 1855 tunics in 1854 and the sentry in the pre 1842 shako but that's pretty picky. Interesting that in the combat scenes shooters are seen placing new percussion caps but only one is ever shown ramming.  I presume that was for convenience and safety.

Into the valley of dice.

Anyway, the movie confirmed that my liking for the 1850's and 60's runs deep and that was what I had originally planned for my recast Britain's (Crimea & Indian Mutiny to Fenian Raids) and settled on last December.  I also confirmed that while I like the NW Frontier and Mutiny I have lost the urge to  "do" India. The enemy in the pass or attacking  the fort could just as easily be Mexicans, Assiniboine or Atlanticans.

That still leaves the question of how to design a game involving small armies on a big space  on a 5x6 or 5x7 table. This will have to be resolved before any future attempt at a Boer War game. Something on the order of 250  yds to a 4" hex and 30 minute turns I should think.

But first, I need more Atlantican natives to fight Faraway's existing troops under existing rules and regulations.

Work to start on some more of these tonight.

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8 comments:

  1. I feel exactly the same when watching "Zulu Dawn" and "Zulu".

    Or for that matter, the 2002 "Four Feathers" versus the sublimely perfect 1939 "The Four Feathers" (the '77 version being so-so all round)

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    1. I'm with you on 4 Feathers. I can see the point with the Zulus but I like them both, for separate reasons. Oddly Zulu Dawn was the later movie but feels earlier in some ways.

      -Ross

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  2. 1930's movies were the best. Actually in many cases, not that far removed from the real thing, what?

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    1. Seems odd now but when Korda made his version of the 4 Feathers, Omdurman was as only as far behind in time as the Viet Nam was is behind us. and the Crimea/Indian Mutiny was only as far behind the 1936 film as the Spanish Civil War is from us. Seems so long ago now!
      -Ross

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  3. The 1968 CotLB film irritates me mostly because of the soppy principal characters - most unengaging (apart from Cardigan - and I have a fondness for Raglan). I haven't seen the Flynn version, though I do recall that my mum has a boxed set of Erroll Flynn, so I feel a visit coming on. I am deeply suspicious of Hollywood interpretations of European history since the astonishing The Pride and the Passion, complete with Sinatra and Cary Grant - the connection with CS Forester's novel The Gun was restricted to the presence of a large cannon in each. The French uniforms, as I recall, came out of Christmas crackers, though the inclusion of Sophia Loren did offer some solace.

    I haven't seen 4 Feathers - must look into that.

    Zulu was a huge favourite of one of my older sons, when he was little - no wonder our kids grew up violent. By the time he was 8 he had seen it so many times that he could sing along with the Zulu songs, and I swear he knew the lyrics.

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    1. Well, there are some glaring historical errors with both film, an imaginary regiment, an incident (Cawnpore) from the Indian Mutiny in 1857 being transplanted to the NW Frontier in 1854, film characters replacing historical ones, that sort of thing but all done to further the plot so I forgive them. 4 Feathers being based on a novel also has some liberties taken with story lines but while its been a long time since I read the novel, I seem to recall feeling that it captured the spirit fairly well despite deviating in detail, timelines etc.
      Worth watching but you're likely to have flashbacks of the latter when seeing bowls of walnuts in the shell or hearing the expression "guns, guns, guns"

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  4. One interesting thing about Zulu Dawn is that there is another hour of movie running around somewhere--it was cut from the version being shown in N. America, as "everyone knew" American audiences would never endure more than a couple of hours of historical cinema! Same with Waterloo--the version we see is about an hour short of the original version. The guy running "Bell and Blade" has offered big bucks to anyone who can supply him with the missing footage to either movie, but so far no one has come forward. Too bad!

    Chris

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    1. Its possible that in pre-VHS/DVD etc home movies, they might have been right in a profit making sense. Look at John Wayne's Alamo, despite dubious accuracy and plenty of fluff from fisticuffs to baby's birthday it took in a bunch at the box office but still lost money. But today, today we can hope for such things for the home audience.

      Here's hoping the lost footage is found!

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