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Monday, 18 February 2013


I think my favorite section on IMDB is the goofs area where all the screw up's in anachronisms, facts, and audio/video are laid out in excruciating detail. The Buddy Holly story was of particular interest when I was younger. Even as a youngster in the 80's (when I first saw it) I noticed all the 70's guitars. Not one or two - but several. My faith in movies has never recovered. At least not until I discovered Errol Morris ....

Where you refer to "truthfulness in movies," I wonder whether "truthiness" might be more apt.

Really enjoyed Apollo 13 but of course even with that movie events were compressed and left out to fit the running time. It was reported that Gene Kranz never said "Failure is not an option" but he did say "...let's not make it worse by guessing". And, the spacecraft engineers probably knew early on what problems they were going to run into stretching the LM's life support way past it's nominal lifetime.

I read somewhere re: Lincoln that the roll call vote at the end used some names that were deliberately changed from the historic facts in order to not put a stigma on living descendants of the Congress (presumably only those who voted to sustain slavery). I found that an odd choice for Spielberg/Kushner to make.

FWIW, I thought the movie was only OK, nothing special save for Daniel Day-Lewis' performance, which may be the most impressive film performance I've ever seen, and certainly on the short list. In fact, I found the photography particularly off. There were scenes with changing color palette intra-scene. I was severely disappointed that the movie I thought had the best cinematography, The Master, didn't even get a nomination.


> "Hollywood loves a true story. A cynic might say it gives them
> something to lie about...."

This reminded me of a quote from Marcel Proust:

"A photograph acquires something of the dignity which it ordinarily lacks when it ceases to be a reproduction of reality and shows us things that no longer exist."


The Hollywood credo, I believe, is: Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.

It's not wise to look for factual accuracy in fiction, but since movies have become one of the primary gateways to history and current issues, critics still need to point out glaring inaccuracies.

All the same, all consumers of fiction would be better off knowing that the only truth that art should be held accountable to is beauty and the commonality of the human experience. The proviso, of course, is that not all movies qualify as art.

Again, I'm not looking for factual accuracy in fiction, I'm looking for factual accuracy in movies that claim to be true stories and are presented to audiences as if they portray the best, most accurate version of the truth that can be known--but that are actually fiction. Or substantially inaccurate. Oliver Stone's "JFK" or the recent "Zero Dark Thirty" are good examples.


At one point since its initial release, James Cameron updated one scene in Titanic to reflect the proper night sky (well, celestial; I don't think he changed the light cloud cover, and he did present the calm clear sea). I just wish it were better written.


What about the movie "Good Night and Good Luck"? I think George Clooney tried his best to portray the principals accurately in that film. Anyhow, I really liked it.

Hi Mike,

I know what you mean. "Zero Dark Thirty" certainly is a problematic movie. But I think it's important to point out that "true stories" are really just a marketing gimmick.

If it's not a documentary, then it's fiction. It's as simple as that. You can't have it both ways. (Of course, there are works that seek to blur the line between reality and fiction, but that's a different story altogether.)

I think what is more important is what the moviemakers are trying to say, whether consciously or not. I haven't watched "Zero Dark", but from what I've read, and from my viewing of "The Hurt Locker", it looks very much a cheerleader of the war effort.

I'd argue that "The Hurt Locker" is one of the most political non-political movie you'll see. It eschews context and debates about the war on terror, but then it puts you completely in the soldiers' shoes. This is the reality. Bullets flying. Kill or be killed. Human agency is diminished into mere acts of surviving. Needless to say, ideals and convictions fly out the window. Contrast that to "Three Kings". What a contrast, eh?

Anyway, I'd like to submit that movies based on facts are really a cultural way for us to process what's happening in society. And movies about the past are really, in the final analysis, about the present. Just like how Miller's "The Crucible" is not really about the Salem witchhunt but about McCarthyism.

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