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Movies: The story's the thing, not accuracy

January 10, 2013 12:10 am

Movies: The story's the thing, not accuracy

After reading Ed Jones' column "Truth lost in the movies?" [Dec. 20] and Gary Long's response to it ["Liberals hate it when their ox is gored in movies," Jan. 6], I had problems with both.

First, with Jones, most of his ideas are based on other critics' opinions. I doubt that Jones had seen "Zero Dark Thirty" prior to writing the article, as screenings had been open only to critics at the time of publication.

To say that a film must be entirely accurate goes against what films are. There's a difference between a film that is "based on actual events" and a supposedly accurate documentary: One is a fictionalized account, while the other should be based mostly on facts.

I have more of a problem with Long's critique, that criticisms are swayed by political leanings. He uses, as a poor example, Oliver Stone films, saying they were not seen as inaccurate.

On the contrary, all of Stone's films have been met with criticisms of inaccuracy, and Stone's personal feelings infiltrating the ideas projected on screen. I cannot think of another filmmaker who has been more criticized for changing historical truth than Stone.

As early as the epics of D.W. Griffith and the falsified documentaries of Robert J. Flaherty in the 1910s-1920s, films have gone for what works best for story rather than 100 percent accuracy. This has nothing to do with political affiliation or a modern take on ideas.

Stretching the facts is as old as film itself. It's up to the viewer to find the truth, rather than the narrative filmmaker, whose goal first and foremost is to entertain, not to inform.

Ross Bonaime


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