Friday, February 22, 2013

Reality and Historic Movies

Movies based on real events are often nominated for Oscars. These are always fictionalized accounts of actual events. People know this but they still expect the movies to be accurate. This has become an issue, this year.

Three nominees are based on real events and all have their own controversies. Zero Dark Thirty shows torture producing results which critics say was not the case.

The big controversy in Lincoln is with the Congressional vote on the 13th amendment which abolished slavery. Connecticut is shown with a split vote (with the names of the people voting against changed to protect their families). Actually, the state's delegation was solidly in favor of the amendment. The vote was changed in order to introduce drama. This is not an important change although people from Connecticut are miffed. Since the movie boasted about its accuracy down to using one of Lincoln's favorite jokes and the sound of his watch ticking, there is an expectation that things were kept as accurate as possible.

The biggest offender was Argo. By the end of the movie the Iranians realized that American Embassy staff members were loose and sent a scary-looking squad to capture them. The pursuit includes police cars chasing a jetliner down a runway. There is also a hold placed on the operation by the President which almost leaves the embassy staff members trapped. All of this was added in order to add suspense to the end of the movie.

I say that it is the biggest offender because the other changes are invisible. You have to have detail knowledge of the actual events to know that anything was changed. In Argo I kept thinking, "This couldn't have happened." When the changes are so over-the-top that the audience starts questioning them then they have gone too far.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The biggest 'Hollywood lie' in Argo is surely the portrayal of the role of the British Embassey! Brits did try to help at great risk to themselves. I hate when historical fact becomes a casualty to add some supposed tension to the plot. Offensive to those who risked their own freedom to help the American staff.