Based on a true story debate

Topics: Adolf Eichmann, Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem Pages: 6 (2421 words) Published: October 14, 2014
!
!

!
Filmmakers Manipulate History? So Did Shakespeare!
Robert B. Toplin!

!

Robert Brent Toplin is a professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and teaches at the University of Virginia. His books include "Reel History: In Defense of Hollywood" and "History by Hollywood."!

!
September 3, 2013!
!

When a movie excites debate because it deals with real people or historical events, critics often blast the filmmakers for manipulating evidence, leaving out important details, and inventing characters and situations. They complain that history from Hollywood is not “accurate.”!

!

This is a silly argument based on inappropriate comparisons between standards of writing used by journalists and historians and the standards of presentation on stage and screen applied by dramatists and filmmakers. Because cinematic historians must communicate brief but entertaining and understandable stories, they usually exercise a good deal of artistic license.!

!

Cinematic historians exercise a good deal of artistic license because they make stories entertaining and understandable. !

!

Filmmakers compress time, collapse several figures into a few principal characters, and imagine dialogue when the historical record is inadequate. Kathryn Bigelow, director of "Zero Dark Thirty," explained that her story had to represent 10 years of the intelligence work on Osama bin Laden in just two and a half hours. The movie’s central character, Maya (played by Jessica Chastain) is modeled on a specific female analyst, but Maya’s activities also symbolize the work of hundreds of intelligence professionals.!

!

Obviously, cinematic historians manipulate their stories (as did Shakespeare in his dramas about English kings and James Michener in several history-oriented novels). In filmmaking these dramatic liberties are taken for storytelling effect, and they do not necessarily reduce the production’s value.!

!

For instance, in "The King’s Speech," the Duke of York actually received assistance from a therapist a decade before the year depicted in the movie. Ben Affleck’s "Argo" features an invented scene near the end showing Iranian authorities chasing a plane as it lifts frightened Americans to safety.!

!

Should nitpicking about these small adjustments detract from the filmmakers’ notable accomplishments in arousing viewers’ interest in the past?!

!

Cinema delivers understanding by arousing a feeling for history. Through color, sound, lighting and other stimuli, movies inform us about experiences that are quite different from our own. "Saving Private Ryan" provides little information about the history of World War II, but it gives audiences a powerful emotional connection to the conduct of warfare. Two influential television miniseries of the 1970s, "Roots" and "Holocaust," presented history in simplistic melodrama,

populated with heroes and villains. Yet these productions excited wide-ranging discussions in America and abroad about the wrongs of slavery and prejudice.!

!

A discussion of Hollywood’s treatment of the facts is always welcome. It is useful, however, to recognize that cinema often excites viewers’ curiosity about the past and arouses the public’s interest in reading history.!

!
!

Being True Is Hard Work for Filmmakers!
Pamela Katz!

!

Pamela Katz wrote "Hannah Arendt" with its director, Margarethe von Trotta. The two also collaborated on the movies "Rosenstrasse," about a protest against a Nazi roundup of Jews, and "The Other Woman" about the Stasi, the East German secret police. She teaches screenwriting at New York University's graduate film program at Tisch School of the Arts.!

!
Updated September 16, 2013, 4:18 PM!
!

The director Margarethe von Trotta understood the challenge we would have in portraying the brilliant, maddening and enigmatic theorist Hannah Arendt.!

!
“She’s a thinker,’ Margarethe warned me. “What will we show?”!...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Based on a True Story Essay
  • debate Essay
  • Essay about The First: A true story
  • The True Story of Ah Q Essay
  • The True Story of Huck Finn Essay
  • Telling a true war story Essay
  • The True Story of John Nash Essay
  • A True Love Story: School Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free