Embellishing the story telling

, posted: 26-Dec-2006 11:08

Christmas means I have time to catch up and watch some films I’ve wanted to see on DVD. However, the films ended up both amusing and annoying, which I didn’t expect.
V for Vendetta is a great film visually and there’s excellent acting by Stephen Rea, Hugo Weaving, John Hurt, Stephen Fry and others. The action sequences and special effects are spectacular, but the script is unkind towards Alan Moore who created the original comic and gets many crucial things wrong.

For starters, Guy Fawkes is shown in the beginning of the film as being executed by hanging. Thanks to the “short drop” method used Fawkes is twitching at the end of the rope, dying slowly. This is not what happened: Fawkes was tortured severely, and sentenced to die through Hanging, Drawing and Quartering , a particularly gruesome way to execute people slowly.

Instead of suffering being hung till nearly dead and then being disembowelled alive, Fawkes jumped from the gallows, snapped his neck and died quickly. I really can’t see the reason for changing that in the film.

Before seeing V for Vendetta I read about Alan Moore disassociating himself from the film because of the extent which the script deviated from the story line in his original comic. While it’s a good thing that the script attempted to update the setting in the film from the Thatcherite eighties, you have to wonder why the writers didn’t just ditch Moore’s original material completely and used their own. The film is that different from the comic.

And “eggy in the basket” for breakfast... I was watching V cook it for Evey, wondering why I had never seen fried bread slices with an egg in the middle in all my time in Britain. That’s because it’s an American thing. The film makers were probably thinking of “Toad in the Hole” which you don’t have at breakfast. Likewise, the “FedCo” postal service instead of Royal Mail wasn’t necessary, ditto having Natalie Portman who really can’t do an English accent play Evey.

Fearless starring the exceedingly cool Jet Li is also worth watching, especially for the Wushu and cinematography.

The story behind the main character Huo Yuanjia is amazing but... the script writers for Fearless rewrote the lot. Why? It’s not like there was something wrong with Huo’s life that couldn’t be told on film.

Likewise,The Motorcycle Diaries is a stunning film that makes you want to see Argentina, Chile and Peru in person. However, the film fails miserably at showing how the poverty and social misery the main protagonist Ernesto “Che” Guevara saw and noted in his diary of the huge trip around South America pushed him to become a violent Marxist revolutionary.

Instead, you look at the stunning scenery and the marvellous photography of people and think it can’t have been that bad. The film ends with a note about how Guevara died in Bolivia, stating that the ambush that led to his capture and execution was organised by the CIA. No doubt the CIA had more than just one finger in that plot, but Guevara was likely shopped to the Bolivians by the Cubans on the order of the Soviets, who didn’t approve of Che’s Maoist tendencies. That’s a story by itself, but if you were going to mention it why take shortcuts?

Obviously, there are such things as poetic licence and artistic freedom. When it comes to films like Fearless and The Motorcycle Diaries how far can you stretch reality though, and still say “based on a true story”?

Hmm. OK, I'm going to stick to books for a while now. Promise.

Other related posts:
Twitter reporting
Speaking of prank calls
What PR people really think of journalists

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