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The cheesy, pectoral-flexing Hollywood treatment of the destruction of Pompeii will arrive in cinemas in February, but the quick teaser trailer is already here.

It starts as the camera trails along those famous ossified corpses supposedly left by the volcanic eruption in the year 79. "Many wished for death," intones a gravelly voice as the camera pulls back to reveal a field of such bodies, strewn on the ground. Meanwhile, ash wafts over them, as if the volcano has just finished exterminating them.

Wrong! Pompeii is only one of the most popular tourist sights in all of Southern Italy, and anyone who has actually been there knows the truth. Mt. Vesuvius did not turn the Romans to stone. It buried them alive.

When explorers rediscovered the city of Pompeii nearly three hundred years ago, they noticed the volcanic mud had people-shaped cavities in it, left after the pyroclastic flow obliterated the citizens. In order to see what these cavities once held, the 18th-century archaeologists used them to make molds. 

The "bodies" of Pompeii's victims were made mostly to impress tourists (and indeed, they have traveled the world and been copied many times). The volcano didn't make any. 

So the opening moments of Sony's Pompeii trailer don't depict the wanig moments of a cataclysm. They show a tourist attraction. Granted, one that s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site—but those bodies are relatively modern fabrications. It's a bit like opening a movie about the Civil War by showing pictures of the John Brown Wax Museum.

I can't wait for the rest of the inaccuracies in this movie. It's going to make Gravity look like a documentary.

 



Tags: pompeii, naples, italy, movies

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