In making fact-based films, how much liberty is it OK to take in the name of entertainment?

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  • 1

    Meguroman

    Movies have time constraints, need to be entertaining & must be profitable (it is a business) - so as long as it isn't presented as a documentary I'm not bothered by changes when they state "based on a true story" or "inspired by true events". I'm often inspired to learn more about the actual event after seeing a movie.

  • 1

    USNinJapan2

    Very little, especially since too many people these days base their grasp of history solely on such movies.

  • -1

    Fadamor

    Very little, especially since too many people these days base their grasp of history solely on such movies.

    That's a deficiency on the part of those people who meet your definition of "too many". The MAJORITY of movie watchers are not looking for a documentary, but instead are looking for entertainment. The majority also understand the difference between "Based on a true story" and a "true story".

  • 0

    volland

    That is an easy one:

    You may, and even have to take, as much freedom with the truth as is neccesary so that the interests of people, or states, that you want to propagate with your movie, are impressivly enough represented and if necessary twisted to tell the desired version of the truth....

    That goes for Ms Bigelow as well as for Mr Affleck. One must rememebr that they simply do their job, it takes a public that wants to believe their versions of reality.

  • 0

    gaijinfo

    If you're making a product to sell to somebody, which is what ALL movies are, regardless of whether or not you claim to be making a "documentary," you can say whatever you want. (Michael Moore anybody?)

    If the illiterate Honey-Boo-Boo's of the world are too stupid to know the difference, that's their problem.

    Blaming movies for not being accurate is like blaming McDonalds for not being healthy.

  • 0

    bokuwamo

    For me the obvious is a movie based on facts has a lot of lead way, it's a movie for selling tickets. Documentaries are suppose to be facts presented in a movie form. I don't think there ever was a movie made that said based on real facts and didn't change things to attract a larger audience.

  • 0

    Steve Christian

    For history movies, I have always believed there should be a panel of historians there to guide ensure accuracy where it is known. The "artists" can tinker with what is not known. Truth is stranger than fiction anyway, and how hard is it to fit interesting action and dialogue neatly within historical truth anyway? When the film is completed it should be rated for historical accuracy, and that rating should be prominent in the film opening credits. I would only waive the need for the panel if the movie had a fat disclaimer that its not accurate, perhaps even with a short video at the opening clearly stating that fact.

    I think its important to remember that its not only adults that get confused between truth and fantasy in these movies, but its also teenagers and children as well, and less surprising that they would think Hitler actually died in a theater fire set by a Jew if they saw it in "Inglorious Basterds". Like it or not, these movies do influence people to believe propaganda. No matter how good people are at separating truth from fiction, when they are inundated with false information, they won't get it right.

    Books should follow the book or be approved of by the author who should be consulted at every step and change. In the end the author should rate the movie, or, experts on the book if the author is deceases. What PJ did to "The Hobbit" is awful, for example. And while I would not ban the movie, it should be clear to all fans that he raped the book.

  • -1

    Xeno23

    As much as the film makers want and the public will stomach. For anyone on the alert "based on actual events" are the keywords signifying upcoming fuzziness. Everyone takes liberties with everything; spot on factual representation without spin or bias is extremely rare and difficult to pull off. And movies? Well, they're movies - what does anyone really expect?

    Historians are a contentious lot. Get a diverse panel together, put them in a room, and after an hour you won't know what to think.

  • 1

    Lowly

    I tend to agree with usnjapan2 and disagree with fadamor.

    "Based on..." is necessary for things like, we don't know what the actual dialog was, or ellipting some aspects of a story to fit it in a time frame for movies, but the fact is when there are ppl who weren't there, actions that weren't taken, ppl who WERE there but doing different from what they did, then you are really changing history.

    The fact is these images and impressions are very powerful and remain in our consciousness, whether you are fairly well versed in history or not, an "intelligent person" as some posters seem to fancy themselves, or the "illiterate masses" (the new "the great unwashed").

    You have to be careful with powerful images, they can really influence your view of reality in a lot of ways.

  • 0

    Steve Christian

    Historians are a contentious lot. Get a diverse panel together, put them in a room, and after an hour you won't know what to think.

    So we should give up trying to find the truth and present it accurately? I don't think so. If a movie were judged by a panel of historians to be 60 percent accurate it would be preferable to another judged to be 30 percent accurate. It would give us a all clue to be wary and just how wary.

    But this is coming from someone who always preferred documentaries to the dramatized historical tinkerings of Hollywood that never fail to throw in a stupid and improbable love story for the ladies.

  • 1

    Xeno23

    Rather than an industry advisory panel, because the history of such panels is rather fraught, perhaps some enterprising historians should put together a history in film/fiction web site and blog. They could rate movies, TV, fiction for historical accuracy - give it some number of stars; perhaps smiling or frowning Greek drama masks...

    There are actually quite a few sites dedicated to educators considering using films as part of their curriculum, but very few popular sites with this focus.

    As to the question of whether it's okay, or not; what does okay mean? Caveat emptor. Discovery of truth is a personal journey, but it would indeed be great if there were less folderol along the way.

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