Spoiler Alert: The Way Back movie and Quills movie
We all have watched movies that either have the famous “based on true story” words written on the screen before the movie actually starts, or are about a famous person (therefore implying that the movie is based on a true story). The presumption that a movie depicts true events helps make a dull movie seem more entertaining, and it makes an exciting movie even more titillating. The only problem with these presumptions is that they are often untrue.
The movie The Way Back is about a group of men who escape from a Siberian work camp. This movie can be summarized in one sentence: The main characters walked, and then they walked, and then they walked, and then they walked a bit more. Although the cinematography was gorgeous, and the dialogue was humorous at times (unfortunately most of the funny bits were shown in the preview), it did not change the fact that a person could take a 30 minute nap during this movie, and not see anything different on the screen when they awoke. Well that’s not true, after all sometimes the characters walked in snowy woods, and other times they walked near a frozen lake. However, after I watched this movie, not only did I have an urge to hike, but I also felt that I did not waste my time sitting in the theater. After all, this movie is based on a true story, and I just witnessed a reenactment of extraordinary events. Except the only true part of this story is that a place called Siberia does exist. The movie is based on a ghost written autobiography The Long Walk, and this book has been declared fiction by many sources. Not only would it be impossible to complete the strenuous walk depicted in the movie, but this walk has not been recorded anywhere. The fact that there is written proof that shows the main character had been released from the work camp before the walk occurred, severely shakes the credibility of this movie. When I found out the movie was only based on a story (there was nothing true about it), I not only felt that I wasted my time watching people walk, but I also felt that the actors wasted their time walking. I would not have been that disappointed with the movie if I knew is was a piece of fiction from the beginning.
Unlike The Way Back, the movie Quills is very captivating. Quills tells the story of Marquis de Sade (the father of sadism), and how he faced imprisonment, torture, and death because he wanted to be allowed to write naughty novels. As a huge fan of free speech, I can empathize with the plight of the father of sadism (even if I don’t enjoy his stories). Not to mention, who can dislike a movie where the protagonist is so dedicated to his novels, that even when all his writing instruments are taken away from him, he uses his own excrement to write on the walls. The fact that he commits suicide by swallowing a cross, makes him almost seem like a martyr. Unfortunately, many events in this movie are also fictionalized. Marquis de Sade was imprisoned several times during his life, but it was usually for committing sadistic acts, not writing about them. Feeling compassion for a man who enjoyed to write about depraved acts is a tad different from feeling sympathy for a man who forced others to do depraved acts. Also, Marquis de Sade died while he was sleeping in his bed, and unless he dreamed about swallowing a cross the night he died, that part of the movie is pure fiction. I would have enjoyed this movie if I knew it was mainly fiction from the beginning, but finding out the outrageous events in this movie came out of someone’s imagination (and not based on facts as I had previously thought), left me feeling the way I did when I found out the tooth fairy wasn’t real.
Does finding out a biographic movie is fictitious ruin the movie? If the reason you went to watch a movie is to take a break from life, then it doesn’t matter if your break was actually based on a true story or not. However, if you plan on watching a movie to learn new information, you should probably stick to watching documentaries (at least until Hollywood stops monopolizing the movie industry). Does it matter to you if a movie is actually based on a true story?