Hello one and all. You all know that, when I am not ranting on you, I like to watch different movies. And I enjoy the wide range of them. Now, most movies are pure fiction - based on original scenarios or on some books. However, some movies are based on (or claim to be based on) some actual events.
Naturally, we all know that movies can't be completely true. Hey, it is Hollywood and we aren't talking documentaries here at all. Events will be made to entertain audience, script will follow some common movie-making guideline... Yes, movies will never be completely true. However, I do enjoy the notion of taking something interesting that really happened and bringing it to bigger audience. Because you can really find some interesting things.
I will present you a few movies based on true events. I will give you three movies here, cause I like doing these things in threes. All movies here are not biopics. I personally am not too interested in movies that try to follow the lives of some famous people. No, I am much more interested in some events. Also, after I give my small list here, you are welcome to provide some similar movies with your recommendations too.
The Hunting Party (2007)
Three journalists meet in Bosnia and embark on a quest to find 'The Fox' - Bosnian war criminal who still haven't been caught by UN. Along the way they meet a lot of strange people among locals and among UN task force. And the most surprising thing of all - these three, who are not manhunters in any way, unexpectedly find the one they are looking for.
So, this is a movie with Richard Gere. I usually do not like him, and I still don't, but this is one movie with him I tolerate. The movie is a sort of adventure/road-movie. It's entertaining and has very nice moments. It also features all the usual Hollywood hooks for those kind of things.
So, get's get to the actual events part? I will put those in spoiler, because there will be spoilers there.
First of all - we have to throw out all the Hollywood nonsense. The story about Simon dropping out of big news, the story about his personal revenge, the emotional ending, them actually meeting the war criminal. Those are made for people to feel more connected. Also, the cast is very simple - main hero with a backstory, solid supporting friend to a hero and a young inexperienced guy. So, those elements are fake, but if we throw them out, what is left?
Surprisingly, there is left quite a lot. Sometime after the Balkan War five war journalists met in Sarajevo to walk familiar places and talk about old times. Along the way they talked about war criminals who were still not caught even with supposedly many people looking for them. Somewhere in that conversation they decided to try and find one of those. Yep, they were drunk. They also started it all as a joke, saying 'one or two days, if we won't find him in that time, we'll stop'. And the damnest thing of all is in a few days they actually found solid leads to the guy. The difference is that they, being serious enough people, followed protocol and passed the information to the authorities. After which they were somewhat harassed by those authorities a bit. So yes, the core of the story is true - it took some journalists literally a few days to find knows and searched for war criminal.
For those interested in hearing the real story the movie is based on, here's the article about those events.
The Emperor (2012)
After USA occupied Japan, they started an investigation into Japanese war criminals - those who instigated the war. And the main problem of their investigation was the emperor's involvement in those events. General Douglas MacArthur (played by Tommy Lee Jones) orders General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) to investigate this matter in ten days. And the fate of post-war Japan will be decided in those ten days.
Historical movie, and those are always hard to judge. The movie feels very serious with a necessary touch of personal drama. All in all it has a sort of melancholic feel. It's also quite interesting. The movie shows a historical event which was really important to Japan and ultimately led to how Japan is today. Yep, with all the anime. At the same time the movie shows the mixed American attitude towards the whole issue.
Okay, I have to say that I am not much of a historian, so I can only provide some thoughts:
As with all historical movies, it's damn near impossible to know for sure how true fine details are. Especially on such an issue. Here we have Japan on one side and USA on the other. One side joined the war and attacked first, the other side nuked cities. One side was concerned about politics and public view, another side was trying to cover up the truth as best as they could.
Quite honestly, I have no idea. Naturally, the whole love story is there to keep part of audience interested. However, the portrayal of main heroes - two generals involved in the issue - is also not fully correct. Would we get more if we look at the core of the story? Involvement of the emperor of Japan? Again, impossible to really judge how well the movie tells about that. The only thing I can do is assume people being people and say that the movie is too kind when portraying Japanese. Yes, harsh thing to say. Still, movie shows good thing - the start of restoration after horrible war. People should know about things like that and, quite possible, it's good to know about those things in a positive way.
I wasn't able to find good article on this, so I can present you only two reviews. One and two. Don't read too much into those too.
Pain & Gain
Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a gym trainer with criminal past. One day he gets tired of not having what other people have and decides to take it for himself. He employs Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) to start a kidnapping scheme. The one real problem these guys have, however, is that they all, while being strong and intimidating bodybuilders, are are morons.
This is a Michael Bay movie, and with quite a low budget at that. This is a dark comedy, and it's funny and entertaining and I really laughed watching it. While watching it, however, it is easy to forget about it being a true story. Hell, they even remind it of you during the movie, just so you won't forget. But it really looks quite unbelievable.
So, how true is it?
This is a very interesting case of true story movie. Naturally, there are added events like attempted bank robbery or a victim helping to catch Daniel Lugo in the end. Added purely for entertainment value. However, if anything, the real events were greatly over-simplified. And for a good reason - full events would require whole dramatic TV-series.
The cast are mixed bag of real and made up characters. For example, Dwayne Johnson character is mostly made up, based on other minor members of the gang. In real story there were a lot more people involved on different stages. In real life the story of the first victim and the result for that person were much more complex. Oh, and survivors of this thing and their relatives are right now damn angry about this movie. They say that it shows criminals in more positive way that they deserve.
What about the core facts? Surprisingly for such an entertaining movie - it's all true. The gang of bodybuilders went on kidnapping spree killing two people in the process and trying to kill one more and grabbing a lot of money. And they were extremely dumb about it too. Smart at some points, but extremely dumb overall. And there were strippers. Oh, and scene with a barbeque outside? Yes, it is still a true story. This is something that actually happened about 20 years ago is Miami and if you think about it - it really was a horrible shit. And something that people should know - these things really happen.
For those who don't want to read too much, here's short article about movie and real life. For those who are more interested here's a very long article with full story of all those events.
There we go. As you see, I have some info on some movies and I have no real clue about another. I do consider those movies to be interesting and entertaining, but their real value is that they allowed me to know some facts about some real events. A lot of facts in some cases and mot so many in other cases. And I do enjoy that. So, if you know about similar movies, feel free to share.