Jul 10, 2008

Movie myths

First, is everyone paying attention?

OK...I was reading an article online just a little while ago. I've moved on and I don't feel like going back and finding it so I can provide the link. Deal with it, fuckers. I'll just describe it to you instead.

So this article was about the most historically inaccurate movies that are based upon true events. Movies like Rudy, The Hurricane and Victory. All decent films, by the way. All come equipped with the tagline "based on true events" and all steer wildly clear of what actually happened in those events.

I came away from reading that article with a question. Do we really care? Are we really caring about this? I mean it's not as if the tagline reads "an exact replica of true events that really happened exactly the way we portray them in this very true-to-life film...swear to God!" It's a movie! If it wasn't much, much more interesting than actual life than we wouldn't pay $11.50 to watch it in a dark room with 350 strangers.

I say that, but then I'm guilty of checking every "based on true events" movie out on IMDB and other sites. Checking to see what was real and what was embellished. Then I tell my friends all about the differences while feeling like a superior sonofabitch. That's how I roll.

I just did it tonight. Right before I read that article, I watched a movie called Heavens Falls. It was based on the re-trial of nine black men who were convicted of raping two white women in Scottsboro, Alabama back in 1931. The trial and re-trials may have been the basis for the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" or so I've read. Harper Lee denies this, by the way.

This one seems to stray closer to the truth than most Hollywood true-tales. Maybe because it doesn't need any embellishment. I'm sure there are folks who are still convinced that these men were guilty. Maybe they were. The facts, however, seem to indicate that they weren't. Most of the men were eventually released or pardoned. The ones that were still alive, anyway. That says a lot. Plus one of the women came forward in the second round of trials and admitted that she wasn't raped by any of the men. Ruby Bates apparently spent the rest of her life working with the men's defense teams to set them free.

It's a sad tale of racism and deep-seated ideology. A tale that doesn't need a Hollywood script.


jiggs said...

racism and deep-seated ideology suck my ballz.

Avitable said...

My wife and I always joke when we see "Based on a true story". We'll say, "Only, instead of a baseball team accepting a black player for the first time in history, it was a hockey team and they had a bus break down on the way to a big match."

Or something like that.

Verdant Earl said...

Jiggs - You're a lucky man!

Avi - I guess every movie can use it. "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - based on true events" What's going on with Avitable.com? Stagnant, eh? Chin up!

RW said...

Here's another view of the issue. I went to see the WWI movie called FLYBOYS which was also based on a true story. Inaccuracies aside the biggest piece of crap (besides the acting, story, writing, directing and special effects) was the way they treated the solitary black character. A lot of people assumed he was a token and the story made him look like the stereotypical black-friend who dies for white people or something. Made it look like they added the black guy for PC reasons. Stupid.

Stupid because Eugene Bullard WAS a black pilot in WW1 and stayed in France and fought in the Resistance vs. Hitler's goons and had a more interesting life than four billion other people I could think of, and they TRIVIALIZED him and made it appear to be a token thing. Ultra stupid.

Slyde said...

i actually just watched "hollywoodland" last night, which was all about the suicide/murder of George Reeves...

i actually thought it was pretty good.

limpy99 said...

The "based on true events" movie I like bets is one whose name escapes me right now, but it's about a WWII bomber that's about to be the first to complete 25 missions and return without getting shot out of the sky. Naturally, everything goes to hell in the 25th mission, which requires them to bomb a munitions factory deep in Germany.

So they get over the target area and, in addition to the huge amount of AA fire they're taking, it's cloudy. The bombardier can't get a fix on the target. And see, the thing is, there's this school near the factory. And the pilot won't release the bomns without a clear fix on the target. So instead of just dumping his bombs over the geenral area of the factory, they CIRCLE AROUND and come back, only dropping the bombs when they get a clear fix on the factory.

As I recall my WWII history, bombs generally landed within A MILEof the target, even under the best circumstances. In other words, no fucking way any pilot is worried about the school next door to the munitions factory. Hell, they're happy to hit the city.

Bruce Johnson said...

Even if it is labeled a documentary, I rarely accept it as the truth. All films have an editor. By nature, they are there to leave something on the cutting room floor. If we seek truth, we shouldn't be watching movies. They can only raise awareness and issues, they can't answer questions.

Verdant Earl said...

RW - I haven't seen Flyboys, but that sucks that they made him a token!

Slyde - Was Affleck in that?

Limpy - yeah, but if they circled around a few times and flew really low...THEN they were accurate!

Lotus - You mean Michael Moore doesn't really tell the whole truth? Shocking

elizabeth said...

You actually look to disprove the based on a true story thing? That's what gives for the best teary eyes at the end. Don't spoil em for me.

Verdant Earl said...

Liz - Oh, I wouldn't spoil them for YOU. Not unless you really want me to. Come on...let me spoil them for you!

kiki said...

i'm a bit of a history geek, so i can't bear movies like 300 and Troy

Verdant Earl said...

Kiki - me too, and Troy was an unspeakable bit of drek. But 300 I liked. It was a comic book and it never tried to be accurate. If you are going to attempt this kind of film, then you may as well go over the top. 300 did that. I dug it.

Avitable said...


What's wrong with 300? It's a story being told in an exaggerated fashion to warriors to get them ready for battle. The only history involved is the methods the Spartans used to fight, which were accurate.