Anachronisms are things that are out of their correct historical time. They, when occurring in works of art, are examples of poor research and throw a bad impression of the writer on the reader. An anachronism can be sighted in many pieces of literature, movies and even paintings. When references are made to objects and incidents that have either not happened till the time mentioned (i.e. future occurrences) or are mentioned way after their actually chronology (i.e. past occurrences) they are referred to as anachronisms. Spotting anachronisms is fun but if you are the author of the book or the director of the movie, you could think of a thousand other things that you would want your piece to be famous for. It should be noted here that things like scientific fiction or works dealing with the supernatural and vampires do not fall under this category. It is the errors in the serious stuff that qualifies to fall under it. The following lines will give you few instances of anachronism for further clarity on the topic.
Examples of Anachronism
Julius Caesar – Case I
Brutus: Peace! Count the clock.
Cassius: The clock has stricken three.
(From Act II, scene i : lines 193 - 194 of Julius Caesar)
This piece is set in the time of Julius Caesar and then i.e. in 44 A.D there were no mechanical clocks. This is what can be called, Shakespeare gone wrong!
Julius Caesar – Case II
Another instance of anachronism can be seen in the following quote:
'...he plucked me ope his doublet and offered them his throat to cut'
Doublets were worn by European men between the 15th and 17th centuries i.e., during Shakespeare’s time and not Julius Caesar’s.
Another example of anachronism noticed in the works of Shakespeare is the reference to the University of Halle-Wittenberg in Hamlet. In the play Hamlet, the protagonist Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark who has attended the University of Halle-Wittenberg. The catch is that the university was constructed in 1502 A.D, while the play is set in the backdrop of 7th century or 13th century (as some people emphasise).
The movie “The Draughtsman Contract”by Peter Greenaway is set in the 18th century when rock bands were not formed, yet, it shows pop art on the walls of the manor (!!). Also, in a rare uncut version, a character is shown using a cordless phone.
The film ‘Grounding’, which is about the collapse of an aircraft, is set in September of the year 2001. Yet, it shows the use of Windows XP that was not yet released.
A popular movie released in 1997 that won many awards is Titanic. The character, Jack (played by Leonardo Di Caprio) mentions that he has gone ice-fishing on lake Wissota near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, U.S.A. However, Lake Wissota is a man-made reservoir which was not created until after five years of the Titanic tragedy. Hence, the misfit.
In the film ‘Sid and Nancy’, Nancy dies in the year 1978 and Sid is asked by the detective if he had called ‘911’. Funnily though, ‘911’ wasn’t implemented in New York until 1984.
In “Pirates of the Carribean – The Black Pearl”, Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp, can be seen wearing an Adidas cap in a few scenes. Considering that the movie is about piracy and shows no signs of modern life, the occurrence of such a brand is a little anachronistic. What do you say?
These are only few examples of anachronism in creative arts. After reading the above, you too will become a pro at sighting these mistakes – be it while reading or while watching an art creation.