Sunday, 17 February 2013

Week 14 (Mon 28 Jan)

In the lecture, we watched the Irish prison-political drama Hunger (2008), which deals with the troubles in Ireland during the early 1980s, specifically prison protests by members of the IRA,and makes reference to figures like Margaret Thatcher, who was notoriously harsh on the Irish. The film, in my view, speaking with experience as a film critic, was of two halves: the first half was unfocused, with an ultimately inconsequential subplot on a security guard at the IRA prison who serves as nothing more than cheap misdirection (which I find pointless in a film based on true events) and indulgent (a number of shots border on pretention, with long-haired IRA members in white towels being dragged around by guards. Obviously not blatant Christ allegory!) while the second half was deep, powerful and visceral, with a powerhouse performance by the increasingly dependable Michael Fassbender and seeing his weakening and decay during the hunger strike, creating some disturbing imagery and legitimate response from the viewer.

Then, in the seminar with Cottis, we returned to our groups from the prior week and went over our notes on the respective news story (the Oslo shooting and bombing back in 2011), and seeing which elements would make for a good motion picture: the human element of people surviving a horrific event and then banding together to help each other would really resonate with the audience and make the characters more relatable and powerful, and given that many different people from different classes and races were affected, we could a diverse and broad palette of characters and viewpoints.

After, we turned to today's subject (and what our news investigation warmed us up for), 'Based On A True Story', a concept in writing of fictionalizing an actual historic even, irrespective of scale or significance, for the sake of a narrative. In fact, of note, he disclaimer often put a the end of films, 'All persons.... are fictitious... any resemblance is purely coincedental' came about because of a 1930s film about the Russian mystic and political figure Rasputin, where one of the actual people around during the events hat the film presents was not flattered by the portrayal and sued the studio.

Of course, as with most types of writing and story construction, there are a number of categories that this type of film can be divided into: 1) Springboard (using an actual historical event as a starting point for your story, and then builiding on it from there. Both Exorcist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre draw on real life events, but are not direcly adaptating or representing them), 2) Fiction with Added Fact (A real event, but parts of the story and characters are fictional for the sake of a narrative and entertainment. James Cameron's Titanic and Day of the Jackal both use this idea, adding people and situations that weren't part of the actual events), 3) Real Events Dramatised (the actual events shown on screen are more or less accurate to how it really happened with some minor exaggerations i.e. Schindler's List, The Longest Day, Frost/Nixon follow the actual histoical accounts, despie some changes for the sake of plot and characters), 4) Biographical (follows the life story of a real person, often allowing us to relate and sympathise with them as they feel more human. Famous examples include Gandhi, Chaplin, Malcolm X and Oliver Stone's Nixon to name a few) and 5) True Crime (exacly what it sounds like: Dillinger, Bugsy, Donnie Brasco and The First Great Train Robbery are all films based on real crimes and criminals).

And with that, we close off today's session. How was it? Well, though the film in the lecture was a bit of trudge ar first, and I wish we could've really gone into a deeper examination of this different types of 'true stories' and the implicaions/connotations and what hat says about us as both consumers and makers, today's work was really interesting, given that historical and biographical films are quite common, and its interesting to look at the sheer amount and variety of them and how they represent the history of their subject, and how that in turn, it connects with us as an audience and let us get into these events much more so than say, reading a history book.

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