Just the Facts, Ma’am?
For me — and the Academy — the best picture of 2012 was Ben Affleck’s Argo. It was taut, gripping, well acted and entertaining as heck. I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish, even though I knew how it would end. Of course the movie wasn’t particularly true, despite appearances. Affleck and co. certainly took dramatic license with a few pivotal plot points to rachet up the tension.
My question is, does it matter? In movies or in historical fiction, is it okay to fudge the facts?
As a Canadian, I wish they’d given our ambassador Ken Taylor more of the due he and his wife, Pat, deserved. They put their own lives at great risk to shelter the Americans when others turned them away. I’m glad that after Ken Taylor’s friends saw the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival and expressed outrage, Affleck flew the Taylors to LA to see the movie and changed the movie’s postscript to reflect that the rescue was a joint Canadian/US effort. I understand the movie is from the CIA agent’s POV, and that this is Hollywood. Truth is relative.
But as a viewer does it matter?
In real life, they never went to the bazaar. Pat Taylor bought the plane tickets with no drama. They flew out of Iran without a hitch. Thank goodness! But does that make for a dramatic movie? Not so much. As a viewer or reader, I want a tale that keeps me riveted, and Argo delivered. If I read a historical romance, I want it to be as true to the time period as possible, but the most important aspect is capturing the spirit of the era or events. I don’t need slavish accuracy at the expense of drama.
How about you? Does it bother you when movies or books aren’t historically accurate?