Thursday, March 14, 2013

Online Assignment #2

 I have to disagree with the idea from the article, “Confronting the Fact of Fiction and the Fiction of Fact,” that filmmakers should produce historically-based films that are completely factual. Granted, there are certain types of film that rely solely on facts such as documentaries or educational films, in which case I would find it necessary. However, film-making is an art; art depends heavily on interpretation and imagination. I believe that fact-checking a film would defeat the purpose of creating a film in the first place. What we learn from most movies is not typically information that can be used in a term paper; we watch them for entertainment. If historical accuracy was a mandatory component in film-making, then some of the movies that we consider to be masterpieces today would not be around.
Some of the movies mentioned by Dargis and Scott in the article which received criticism for their authenticity included “Argo” and “Django Unchained.” I personally thought “Argo” was a really well-done movie despite the falsities found in it. Ben Affleck took a particularly unique event from American history and made it into a thrilling portrayal of heroism through the U.S. citizens involved in the rescue of the six escapees from Iran. Although he did not follow the story precisely as it happened, he used his skills as a filmmaker to make the story more compelling than it originally would have been. As for the film, “Django Unchained,” I think most audiences would have been able to recognize that this was not based on a true story; rather, it was Quentin Tarantino’s idea of “rewritten history.” Most of his later films have a heavy dose of vengeance and nothing screams revenge more than a former slave killing off a plantation owner. The fact of the matter is, Tarantino did not want a historically accurate film, he wanted an action film. The same can be said for the movie, “A Few Good Men”. Aaron Sorkin based the film on an actual trial but there were no murder charges and no dramatic confessions drawn in the real trial. Sorkin may have twisted the truth of the original story but he made a great film out of it which got him many nominations. People did not credit Sorkin for how accurately he followed the story; he was praised for the quality of the film he was able to produce from it. I believe that filmmakers should be able to portray history as accurately or as inaccurately as they want since films should not be held accountable as reliable sources of information.
Although it is important for certain films, such as documentaries, to be accurate and truthful, I don’t believe that all films need to be made according to facts. Whether a historically-based film is factual or not is up to the filmmaker. I personally think that filmmakers would be considered artists before they would be called historians so it should not be their concern to produce historically accurate films unless they wish to do so. Their main concern is creating a movie that audiences would want to watch and a movie that portrays their creative image. Painters don’t have copy editors to make sure they color within the lines so why should filmmakers cater to fact-checkers?

1 comment:

  1. The critics make a valid point; filmmakers should look to accurately depict the events that occurred in history when making films based off historical events. Art has the responsibility to be accurate only when it claims to adhere to journalistic standards. Filmmakers who commit to said standards in depicting their historical films face a challenge. If a filmmaker wants her historical piece to be regarded as a work that abstractly yet concretely portrays the complete truths of an event, it must be honest while not allowing the film's artistic style to distort the truth of the actual events, social perspectives and impacts of the piece of history. In committing to portraying a historical event accurately, complete facts are as important as the artist's techniques. The facts or effects they show to accurately transmit their message to the audience should be scrutinized.
    Quentin Tarantino's films are known for their innovative story-structures, unapologetic dialogue and excessive gore. Within the first scenes, we are introduced to fast music and shots, or with off-color and fluid dialogue. These scenes introduce us to a world in which he has created. However, the violence and fictional characters in his "historical" films "Inglorious Basterds" and "Django Unchained" transmit to us the realism of the inhumane acts that the villains commit. The titles "Inglorious Basterds" and "Django Unchained" alone give us insight that shows these playful titles belong to movies that unconventionally show the true atrocities of the Nazi's ethnic cleansing or the horrors of slavery. Their style implicitly shows that they are historical fantasy, but they also make an admirable effort not to undermine the realities of the vigilance, brutality and hypocrisy of past individuals that reinforce and sustain the ideology of racial superiority. "Basterds" gives examples of the acts of manipulation and threats by the Nazis towards non-Jews to oust Jews hiding within a community, while "Django" uses witty dialogue between a slave master and a slave on how to treat "an exceptional nigger", to show the irrational thought process behind slavery and racism. While these scenes lack some historical evidence, they introduce us to the actual mentalities, efforts and acts that had taken place. Not since reading "The Diary of Frederick Douglas" has a piece of art like "Django" left me in awe and disgust to the reality of slavery. Tarantino maintains his journalistic credibility by blatantly showing his movies don't document real characters or events, but accurately shows the acts and the impact that those actual events had in history. They accredit fictional acts of courage to educate us of the true heroes of WWII and the end of slavery.
    "Lincoln" unfairly accredits the efforts of the establishment of the 13th amendment only to the "elite" leaders of that time, rather than to arduous efforts of slaves those who helped our society progress to a more equal nation. Like Daisy's performance, "Lincoln" has received praise, but since both are created for the purpose of entertainment, the creators are given the freedom to present their untruths and misrepresentations of actual events and discredit the historical fallacies as intentional for the sake of entertainment. Art is a form of entertainment that asks us to view and question the artist's perspective of reality. When a piece of art is made with the intention to accurately inform us of an event and those events portrayed are distorted to a point that they reveal untruths, the reality that the artist presents is not credible. When journalistic research claims to hold standards, we must acknowledge this claim and cite any untruths in the work. When we see that pieces in the film undermine and/or fabricate the truth, we should discredit their film as accurate and consider it as art made for entertainment.