Funny how history’s successes are so often easily forgotten but its failures—often measured in terms of millions of lives or countries in ruin—are indelibly stamped into books and plastered on the silver screen.

Not long ago, history at the movies meant battling over the beaches of Normandy or the plains of Scotland or the hot sand in ancient Rome’s Coliseum. Our reminders were usually colored blood red.

But something in Hollywood awakened. Q...

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