Monday, September 19, 2016

How Truthful Should You Have to Be When Telling a True Story in a Movie Not a Documentary?

We saw SULLY last week and found it moderately enjoyable. Now part of the enjoyment came from the scenes where the passengers on a plane were saved by the crew and also by Hudson River barges, ferries, etc. But a large part of the movie's excitement came from a lie. The movie portrayed federal agencies (National Transportation Safety Board) as looking to paint Sully as incompetent in the decision he made to land the plane in the Hudson river rather than turning back to LaGuardia.

 Here's a long explanation of what really happened and what the movie portrayed. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/10/business/sully-is-latest-historical-film-to-prompt-off-screen-drama.html?_r=0

When a movie takes dramatic license in the way SULLY did, it portrays real people and government agencies as nefarious. In this case, an agency that did a good job in ferreting out the truth, is made to look like the opposite actions occurred.

I know this happens all the time but in this case so much of the movie hung on this lie, I find it inexcusable. What do you think? Perhaps it is just a movie, but millions of people will walk out of the theater believing once again that the government cannot be trusted.

15 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

I understand your point, Patti. I've seen other movies like that, too, that don't portray things accurately. In general, I much prefer it when they're more authentic.

Jerry House said...

Movies based on fact are mainly fiction, but the purpose should be to entertain and not to have an agenda, and if they do proselytize, they should be up front about it.

Charles Gramlich said...

I learned a long time ago that those movies "based on a true story" just weren't really. This is one reason I just never take movies seriously. I don't take most popular books about such events seriously either, of course, but at least there are books that make a serious effort. Movies are entertainment. I just can't find myself paying much attention to them as serious commentary on anything.

J F Norris said...

Nearly every bio-pic ever made by Hollywood is filled with fabrications and lies. It's at the very core of making movies. Even adaptations of novels and short stories get rewritten for movies. No screenwriter has ever been truly faithful to any story -- whether it's true or fiction. I think it all has to do with the nature of creative writing. And writers, especially screenwriters, always think they can improve on their source material. Filmmaking is the most manipulative form of art, I think. If they writers aren't inserting their own beliefs in the form of dialogue, the director and editor are cutting the images and scenes to make you see and feel what they want you to.

Doborah Beige said...
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Jeffrey Meyerson said...

What Charles said. Whenever I see "Based on a True Story" or the like I am skeptical from start to finish.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

What Charles said. Whenever I see "Based on a True Story" or the like I am skeptical from start to finish.

Anonymous said...

"Everything in this film is true. Only the facts have been changed to make it more dramatic."

It isn't "telling a true story", though. Why not acknowledge that the film was inspired by something that actually happened and then make it plain that the film including the characters is fictional?

Mathew Paust said...

I think the nearer a biopic is to the actual event the more viewers will expect the portrayal to reflect their perceptions from news accounts and investigative narratives of the event. Disappointed to know Sully's story is sullied in this movie, which I'm now not all that eager to see.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, that's the problem. By trying to make the story more dramatic through lies, they sullied his name. He was heroic in his actions. Isn't that enough?

Bernadette said...

This kind of thing really bugs me. I'd heard about Sully and already decided not to see it based on the utruthiness of it. I'd rather go see a completely fictional story (e.g. the one where Denzel Washington saves a plane that I can't remember the name of) than one of these "based on real events" things. I'd prefer all fact or all fiction that some jumbled mixture where I don't know what to believe

Cap'n Bob said...

Hmmm, we were going to see it tomorrow.

There is one movie that was faithful to its source, though--The Maltese Falcon with Bogart.

Todd Mason said...

There are other faithful films...and all art manipulates. I myself find, say, Bob Woodward 'nonfiction" where private conversations with no actual transcripts are "quoted" verbatim from the omniscient POV as risible.

From the one discussion review I've heard of the film, I gathered much of it was about Sully's potential self-doubt...I'll read the document to see if that's what's possibly meant by the film...and thus fraudulent.

Anonymous said...

I think the filmmakers have an obligation not to demonize people or agencies just got dramatic license, especially if those people (or the agencies they work for) are responsible for ensuring our safety. Perhaps Eastwood and co. just wanted something to highlight the drama (although, what Sully was able to do was pretty damn dramatic without any additional frills), but I suspect Eastwood wanted to stick it to the government bureaucracy. He had an agenda--and he was able to implement it.

--Deb

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Changing facts around always bothers me. Making Frank Nitti a blonde assassin in The Untouchables who is gunned down by Ness for one. And Public Enemies-a great book but the movie strays from the facts quite often.