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Archive for March 5th, 2015

Mr. TurnerIn a survey of 2,000 British people to coincide with the DVD release of the film Mr Turner discovered that 28% didn’t know that JMW Turner was a painter. Other significant British people (along with the most notable film about them) who didn’t do well in the survey are:

Charles Darwin – 25% didn’t know that he was a key contributor to evolutionary theory and wrote On the Origins of Species

Creation  (2009)creation

Sir Isaac Newton – 25% didn’t know that he discovered the existence of gravity.

Me & Isaac Newton (1999 documentary)Isaac Newton, Athee Donald, Comment

Sir Francis Drake 26% didn’t know about his part in the defeat of the Spanish Armada

Drake of England (1935)Drake of England

Sir Alexander Fleming 29% that he discovered penicillin (15% thought he was the James Bond author [Ian Fleming]).

(not aware of any films about him)Sir Alexander Fleming

Marie Stopes 33% didn’t know that she was a women’s rights campaigner and pioneer of birth control

(not aware of any films about her)Marie Stopes

Oliver Cromwell 33% didn’t know who that he was a political leader and his part in the English Civil War.

Cromwell (1970)Cromwell

Michael Faraday 35% didn’t know that he was a pioneer in the field of electricity

(not aware of any films about him)Michael Faraday

William Wilberforce 40% didn’t know about his part in the abolition of slavery

Amazing Grace (2006)Amazing Grace

William Tyndale 43% Didn’t know that he was the first man to translate the Bible into English and led the Protestant reformation (I had never heard of him either)

God’s Outlaw (1986)God's Outlaw

Tim Berners-Lee Most surprisingly 44% didn’t know that he invented the World Wide Web.

(not aware of any films about him)Tim Berners-Lee

As Mr Turner finds its way to DVD then TV will more people be aware of Turner? If so, do these people need to have a film made about them, and those that already have a film, do they need a better one? For example, is Lord Mansfield better know now thanks the film Belle (2014)? Stephen Hawking is clearly well know now, but will the film The Theory of Everything (2014) help keep him in peoples concessions for longer? My knowledge of Alan Turing only comes from an interest in wartime code-breaker, I am sure many people knew less than that before seeing The Imitation Game (2014).

I am sure many people will think that it is a poor state of affairs that people history comes from motion pictures, however I have a different theory on the subject. Watching a film may encourage people to read the true story about the characters they have been watching for example Louis Zamperini from Unbroken (2014) or the aforementioned Alan Turing.

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