Take fact-based drama with grain of salt

Friday, February 13, 2015

Recent movies based on actual events that happened to actual people have generated controversy over the extent that movies should adhere to historical fact when an audience may have the perception that they are seeing history recreated.

The controversy surrounding the movie "Selma," a story about a period in the life of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., portrays President Lyndon Johnson as resistant to the confrontational tactics of King before reluctantly being drawn into the struggle.

While it is true that the Texas politician began his political career as unsympathetic to the struggle for Civil Rights, his public change of heart happened years before the period of the movie.

The movie 'American Sniper' is based on the memoirs of Chris Kyle, a U.S. Navy Seal with 160 confirmed kills as a sniper. Critics have accused Kyle of embellishment in his memoirs. The suspect embellishments were avoided in the movie, but the movie added embellishments of its own not contained in the memoirs.

Unlike what is indicated in the movie, Kyle was not motivated to join the military as a patriotic response to 9/11, but had plans to go into the military before he graduated from high school

Also, despite the underlying dramatic theme of moral anguish in the movie, no remorse or uncertainty was revealed in the book.

Hollywood has always embellished stories about historical figures and events for dramatic effect. The public just needs to bear in mind that with the exception of documentaries, film productions are more about entertainment than information.