ANYONE who thinks that a Hollywood movie could in any way, shape or form be “historically accurate” is a fool.

I suspect reality dawned on cinema audiences sometime between Errol Flynn’s impossibly handsome Robin Hood, who dashed around a stage set of Sherwood Forest in his dinky green tunic-and-tights combo in pursuit of an impossibly beautiful Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland) in 1938, and Tony Curtis’s star turn in Spartacus in 1960 as the first Roman with a broad Noo Yawk accent.

It is now clear that Cleopatra, an African of Greek origin, would never have looked like Elizabeth Taylor, and I’ve never been entirely convinced that Charlton Heston, who was of Scottish-English ancestry, made an accurate Ben Hur, a Palestinian Jew. Hollywood has always highjacked history – after all, some of the best dramas have been real ones – but their version of history is, well, Hollywoodised.

The reality is that parts of even the most exciting historic stories are boring and it’s the scriptwriters’ job to airbrush those bits out of their screenplays and add in new exciting (and entirely fictional) bits in order to make a movie with action, drama, tension and romance, and to make lots of money.

That’s why I find the current criticisms of films such as the acclaimed The Imitation Game, the British film about the mathematician Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and the upcoming American movie Selma, about the protest marches in Alabama in the 1960s, absurd.

Critics have complained that The Imitation Game uses American slang not in use at the time and that the characters of real life people have been altered for dramatic effect.

The controversy surrounding Selma focuses on the speeches of Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo), which have had to be changed because of copyright issues and so the film cannot show King saying, “I have a dream”.

Instead, he may “have a vision” or “have a hope”, but whatever it is the scriptwriters have rewritten history, again.

What has surprised me is that historians have expressed concern that generations of children will learn wrongly about the 1960s civil rights movement through the film because of its inaccuracies.

Why, instead, are they not protesting about children being taught history via scriptwriters employed by Hollywood and British movie studios instead of qualified history teachers and textbooks written by qualified historians?

Why, for example, are they not protesting about my children, and possibly your children, who at their secondary school in Brighton and Hove have been taught about Native American buffalo hunts by watching scenes from the 1990 Kevin Costner movie Dances With Wolves (and yes I did write to the school to complain about this)?

It’s worth pointing out that the movie was considered “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the US Library of Congress, yet it still contained many historical inaccuracies.

It was, after all, based on a novel written by a man who studied journalism and at a film school but who, significantly, did not study history, and no matter how much of the movie seemed authentic and historically accurate because much of the dialogue was spoken in a Native American language, it’s still fiction and should not be presented to children as historically accurate.

However, it is not just history that is being taught to children via those well-known historians, otherwise known as Hollywood screenwriters.

My children have attended religious education lessons that have taught about marriage by showing scenes from the Hugh Grant film Four Weddings and a Funeral, which carries a 15 certificate and contains the ‘f’ word 13 times in its first 38 words, and they have learnt about rape in a PSE class by watching an episode of the American drama Law & Order, which is famous for graphically depicting violent crimes and is certainly not recommended viewing for children.

There is a very worrying trend in education where expert knowledge is being replaced by more populist sources of information including television programmes and films.

It could be argued that using movies as a teaching tool at least provides a context for pupils to understand an important historic event.

But I would argue that even if some of the content is accurate, not all of it can be, and expecting children to discern between what’s accurate and what’s not, I would suggest, is nigh on impossible.