The “Outdoors” – Hollywood Style

Ever been watching a movie in which the Hollywood crowd depicts something in the outdoors that is just plain wrong? We are shown a technique or two that are incorrect or inaccurate, all to create some moment of authenticity in a scene – and worse, instilling improper examples of outdoor resourcefulness.

Movies repeat these misrepresented cliche actions and sequences over and over, film after film. For many outdoor/action movies, it a dummying-down that has become a mainstay of the industry. I pity the naïve movie viewer whose only exposure to outdoor skills is limited to these amusingly bogus silver screen depictions.

Take the scene where we are presented with the view looking through binoculars. Double, overlapping circles, right? Wrong! When properly aligned and viewed, there should be just one circular image, like what you’d see through a telescope. Anything else means there’s something wrong with your gear – or you don’t know what you are doing! Of course, a double circle fills up the rectangular screen area more fully and, after all, it is just make-believe!

Double, overlapping circles, right? Wrong.

A very common injustice when portraying an outdoor skill is the way many warriors “sharpen” their weapons. Whether it’s a honing store for a knife, or a file or grinding wheel (big effect with sparks flashing off the edge of a huge axe blade!), too often the sharpening motion is shown off and away from the edge like they are wiping something off the blade. They are – it’s sharpness!

Off course, that action should be more akin to making thin, precisely angled slices from the stone or wheel with a motion down and across the blade’s edge. Attempting to sharpening a tool in the wrong direction tends to round it off or otherwise ruin that working edge.

Filmdom’s flights of fancy, literally, are also in the way special effects departments go to all the trouble of creating a close-up, slow-motion sequence following an arrow through its flight. Most often the arrow is shown soaring along like a glider through the air.

The whole purpose of an arrow’s fletching is so those feathers can create and maintain stability in flight. It achieves that by spinning! Once it leaves the arrow rest,  it starts to SPIN, stabilizing the shaft throughout its entire flight.

You can probably recall other instances where some outdoor skill is bastardized in a scene for a cheap effort to legitimize a storyline to an unknowing audience. A classic example of gratis inclusion of cliché , token outdoor skills can be found in The Edge, a lame, survival-themed movie set in the Alaskan wilderness.  It provides several good laughs several times over.

All these and other faux pas scenarios are simply part of the Hollywood mystique, making it all the more refreshing on a rare occasion when someone actually does get it right!

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