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In the February 21, 2016 issue of the New York Times, Mekado Murphy reports on a movie called The Witch, directed and written by Robert Eggers. Murphy writes the Eggers “dug deep into New England history for his debut feature, which unnerved audiences at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and earned the filmmaker the best director prize.”
For those who enjoy reading of what contributes to authenticity in historically based films, as well as those who write historical fiction, the article offers several suggestions.
To create the farm featured in the movie, Eggers spent “a good deal of time at Plimoth Plantation” in order to build authentic structures and even used tools true to the time to make the buildings and fences look right.
To portray the characters accurately, he chose a “wide-brimmed felt Sugarloaf hat” for the father of the household and consulted Clothes of the Common People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England published by Stuart Press.
“To get a grasp on the thinking and language of the period, Mr. Eggers pored over books, church pamphlets .. and various sermons from Puritan ministers.” He also read the diaries of John Winthrop, one of the Massachusetts Bay Colony founders, and a Puritan devotional guide from the early 17th century.
I know that many authors of historical fiction watch movies to get a sense for the time periods of their novels, however, the article demonstrates that we can also find inspiration from an understanding of how filmmakers actually produce the settings, dialogue and characters of their films.
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.