is it possible to make a fact based movie without taking liberty?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by felix_suwarno, Aug 24, 2002.

  1. felix_suwarno

    felix_suwarno Screenwriter

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    i have seen a few movies like braveheart...based on history, but far from accurate. what is the point then?

    so, how many movies got history right? is it hard not to take liberty when creating the movie?
     
  2. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    I believe it's possible, provided you're not intent on making a thrill-a-minute type of film. Of course, if all you want is to make an action movie using a historical character as your hero, then no, historical accuracy will probably be impossible to preserve.

    Personally, I believe it's possbile to approach the duller (or less heroic) moments of history in such a manner that they can be appreciated by the audience, without turning everything into a "braveheart" moment.
     
  3. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

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    I think, Felix, the bottom line is, that reality does not always a good movie make. For example, if a Beautiful Mind was told without liberty, Nash would not have had his dramatic speech when he accepted his award. He made no such speech (as can be seen from his award acceptance on the DVD). Not everything needs to be exact. That is why it is a MOVIE not a documentary.
     
  4. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    It is the difference between making a historical drama and a documentary. It can be done, but history isn't as neat and tidy as we expect a good story to be, so some liberties, whether playing up certain aspects or omitting them, are pretty usual to build something with emotional continuity.
     
  5. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    If you want something factual, watch a documentary. Movies are made to entertain.
     
  6. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    I dunno, Kyle. I doubt something like "Schindler's List" was meant to be entertaining in the traditional sense.
     
  7. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    Unless it's a film about something very recent (say last 10 years or so), even the most fact-based film will have to rely on taking liberties with some points and ideas. Most historical events that films are based on are made from a general idea of the subject. It is almost non-existant to have a film where every scene has credible documentation to prove what did or did not happen. It is legend, myth and stories passed down that end up as "the truth". Plus, as stated above, most movies would need to take liberties just to remain interesting.

    Bruce
     
  8. Greg_Y

    Greg_Y Screenwriter

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    Documentaries are still filtered through the eyes of the filmmakers. Liberties are taken.

    Even if you took one fixed camera and shot something in one take, there could still be discussion as to why you chose the angle you did.

    Films are art. Art is made by people. People are not 100% objective. This is a good thing.
     
  9. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    I agree with Greg. It is impossible. The moment you choose one camera angle over another, you are taking artistic license and manipulating history.

    Mark
     
  10. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    If they started including disclaimers (like "This film is not 100% accurate with historical events and takes liberties at certain moments in order to improve the quality of the film in the context of the storyline and not the context of the history") then I wouldn't have a problem with them making movies that aren't historically accurate.

    What I wonder is why they aren't making more movies with the backdrop of history (like Casblanca being set during the time of WW2) instead of actually being part of major events and then innaccurately recreating them (like Braveheart).

    If a movie is good, then it's good, historically accurate or not. If it is both good and historically accurate, then it's a great movie.
     
  11. Hendrik

    Hendrik Supporting Actor

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    "...If it is both good and historically accurate, then it's a great movie."
    ...ahh... name one... (and, NO!, you can't say "Schindler's List" - that movie is as sappy as they come, and only very loosely 'historically accurate'!... IMNSHO, of course!)
    . . . [​IMG] . . .
     
  12. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    you're right, hendrik, schindler's list is not very accurate in the sense that not much was known about him and what he did...so what you see in the movie is what the screenwriter(s) thought what happened when oskar schindler helped those in the camps.
     
  13. John Gallagher

    John Gallagher Auditioning

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    I think that of all 'history based' films, the one that comes closest to doing it right is "Tora, Tora, Tora". But even there the Naval Intelligence officer played by Martin Balsum (sp.?) is a composite of several different individuals, and Yamamoto did not make the sleeping dragon speech to the officers on the flagship.
     
  14. Daniel J

    Daniel J Stunt Coordinator

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    Even recent history is almost impossible to transfer to the movie screen without someone sticking their grubby hands into it (witness Black Hawk Down); and factor in the amout of adapted fiction that is butchered in order to appease someone or other (witness LOTR); it's quite apparant that film is never going to give you anything reminicent of "historical accuracy", or any kind of accuracy for that matter. The wish to see "fact" represented is one that seems beyond any hope.

    So what do we do? Sit here and whine about it until someone panders to every niggling trivia and makes a perfectly factual movie? I only wish that would help. The sad truth is that we have to take the lumps with the good stuff, and try to enjoy the experience for what it is, rather than what we would like it to be.
    I know, it's harder than it sounds.
     
  15. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    it's impossible to create a completely historically accurate movie. let's say if someone was going to do yet another movie on pearl harbor, they'd have to get people that looked, sounded, walked, etc., EXACTLY like their historical counterparts, not to mention to have every ship in the harbor the EXACT same distance apart as they were on the morning of december 7th, 1941, and so on and so forth. it just can't be done, unless someone creates a time machine and brings a video camera along to document the event. i think the closest we can come to historical accuracy as far as look goes is cgi. a cgi look-alike of fdr would most likely be much more accurate than the closest human look-alike. final fantasy gave us a look at how well humans can be recreated by cgi...time will tell when we'll get to the point of virtual perfection of human recreation by cgi. pretty darn sure it would happen within the next 50 years, if not, definitely within 100. look how far we got in 20 or so years.
     
  16. SvenS

    SvenS Second Unit

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    Tora, Tora, Tora was hailed by historians as being dead on accurate and I would say is a true to life representation. In fact it's was still close enough to the end of the war (early 70's) that they were able to use real Zeros to fly in the battles. I would highly recommend everyone who has not bought this DVD yet to do so as it is a VERY good film as well as being accurate. The bombing of the airfields are quite impressive since they were real action shots and not special effects and you can see a lot of stunt men running VERY CLOSE to the explosions as they were detonated in the scenes.

    It's rediculous to say that ever person in ever frame MUST act exactly like the people during the bombing off pearl harbor to be considered accurate! You just need to stick to the exact events and how they happened to be considered accurate.
     
  17. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    Historical accuracy itself is a point of remarkable debate. What one recorder may declare to be the truth, another observer may declare to not be. Not one single historical event can be agreed upon by every observer or sometimes even the majority. History can be revised, new events come to light, others found to be false only to be thought true again. To ask an entertainment film to achieve something that historians cannot would be impossible. Look at the Kennedy assassination. Even though the shooting is on film there are still unanswered questions about how many shots were fired, which bullets went where, and even if Jackie was trying to escape or reach for a secret service agent or trying to recover part of her husband's skull. There are too many variables:

    1. Battle of Bunker Hill was fought at Breed's Hill.
    2. Lemmings do not commit mass suicide. Disney faked the scene for cameras when the poor critters wouldn't perform according to the popular notion.
    3. There was no charge up San Juan Hill.
    4. The British did not shoot first on Bloody Sunday.
    5. Marisa Tomei did not win an Oscar. Jack Palance read the wrong name on the card.

    Some of these are myth, some are true, some people believe them to be true and would swear they are historical facts. Some were historically true but later found to be not true.

    History, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
     
  18. Thik Nongyow

    Thik Nongyow Stunt Coordinator

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    We can try to make a historical movie, but we have to be careful not to introduce anachronisms. Movies like "Braveheart," "A Beautiful Mind," "Pearl Harbor," "Gladiator," etc. are known to introduce anachronisms because of the complexity of movie-making. We should also not try to politically-correct or re-write history just because of contemporary sensibilities.
     
  19. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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  20. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Lead Actor
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    In fact it's was still close enough to the end of the war (early 70's) that they were able to use real Zeros to fly in the battles.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't remember seeing any Zeros in "Tora,Tora,Tora". The aircraft in that movie, as far as I know, were "Harvards" (American designation - SNJ/AT6 "Texan") re-marked to look like Zeros, Kates and Vals. Just looked at a site about WWII aircraft. Apparently the filmmakers also used BT-13s and BT-15s. There were, as I thought, no actual Japanese aircraft used in "Tora, Tora, Tora".
     

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