Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
Here's how it works around here: Mr. Marks does all the heavy lifting, and I sit off in the wings and nitpick. So while I certainly sympathize with his frustration at getting yet another Ban from the Man on Facebook, I would like to offer the following bleat regarding his criticism of W.E.
Marks wanted to "call Madonna out for her willingness to trample the truth in order to bolster a wobbly cinematic 'vision'" - in particular, for her willingness to sidestep Wallis Simpson's Nazi sympathies.
Nazi sympathies are a bad thing. But artists have been willing to trample the truth for the sake of their cinematic visions - wobbly or otherwise - since forever, no? I got my introduction to this way back in 1984, when Amadeus gave us a man-child Mozart and an absolutely diabolical Salieri:
"Go ahead and laugh, but in a couple hundred years, David Bowie is totally going to rock this look."
Imagine my surprise when I learned that this characterization was...not true! Later, a friend actually gave me a book about it: Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, from the Society of American Historians. The book opens with a conversation between an historian and the filmmaker John Sayles. In it, Sayles says, "If historical accuracy were the thing that people went to the movies for, historians would be the vice presidents of studios...An important point about movies: they exist during those two hours. If you make them, you hope that they have some echo, but the only thing you really have to do for the audience to buy in is to be true to the world you create for those two hours...I ask a lot of the people in the audience. I try not to condescend to them, and implicit in that is a presumption that they will take some responsibility not to believe everything they see and also to see more than one thing."
My claim: the real problem with W.E. is that it's a lousy movie, not that it mucks with history to suit its purposes.
What say you all?
More like this:
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- Local War of Words Over Don "Soul Train" Cornelius Apparent Suicide — Feb. 2, 2012
- Lars Von Trier: You Can't Keep a Good Nazi Down! — Sept. 9, 2011
- Banning the banaholics — July 31, 2008
- A Tenth Grader's History of the World — June 22, 2006