Thisessay analyses Hollywood movies under the direction of differentstars to identify different thematic, plot, character, and sceneexaggerations that Hollywood gives stories. Many a time, the words,“based on a true story”, are usually plastered on film posters ordramatically woven through trailers. As this essay will demonstrate,the films hardly follow the correct tone of the “true story”, butrather exaggerate most aspects to fit the needs of the producers. Itseems that the best way for directors to ramp up the enthusiasm andexcitement of the film is to base it on an actual story(McFarlane28). There are different examples of movies directed by reputabledirectors in Hollywood that clearly deviates from the real storybehind them. In the opinion, of the writer, the movies discussed inthis essay are the most exaggerated in relation to the real story theproducers claim they were based on.
Theexaggeration is basically on the inaccuracy of historical events, thefabrication of certain themes to fit the director’s intentions, andinconsistencies of different scenes to the real story. Most Hollywooddirectors explain these exaggerations with usual accolades such as“the film was close to the actual events of the story”. They sayso amid criticism from the audience, historians, and other literarycritics. It is still not very clear whether films that claim to bebased on a real story must be accurate to the story(Robertson107). However, exaggerating the story also creates a wrong impressionof the real events of the story or drama especially to the audiencethat may not have the accurate facts about it. Hollywood directorsaim at sticking to the terms of the industry and somehow reach andresonate with a target audience. There must be something about thefilm that is understandable to the audience and that draws theaudience in and holds its interest.
MartinScorsese’s ‘The Wall of Wall Street”
Thefirst film under consideration is Martin Scorsese’s “the Wolf ofWall Street”. Scorsese’s directorship in this film explores thethemes in a different universe through a different tone from the realstory. The self-fashioned wolf in the film was not close to the realwolf in Jordan Belfort’s memoir’s depiction of Wall Street.Itis a delusional exaggeration of the real story in the memoir. Awayfrom them the memoir, the movie presents a tale of immorality, thelust for money, and a fantasy in which financial unorthodoxy ispresented in a rather blue-collar fashion. Scorsese made viewers tobelieve that a boiler room in a stock brokerage firm was run by bluecollar individuals who take advantage of the gullibility of ordinaryAmericans to get instant riches(Belfort18). Moreover, the parades of beautiful and nude prostitutes, pilesof cocaine and the subsequent Quaaludes of binges are reallyexaggerated. Even though was not important to have a Mercedes in thefilm as the car that crushed, using a Lamborghini also exaggerateseven the smallest aspects of the memoir that viewers could be awareof.
Theextravagance that Jordan Belfort presented in his memoir by thefraudsters of Wall Street was exaggerated to the extent that viewerscould equate it to something else rather than the acts of people whocommitted crimes that had much to do with the lawlessness of stockbrokers at that time. Director Scorsese must have had a differenttheme for the film altogether. Perhaps he intended to depict thefolly of the fraudsters through their naïve and extravagant spendingand love for luxury and women. However, the name of the filmsuggested that it was based on a memoir that recounted the actions offraudulent stock brokers who made millions of dollars by fleecingunsuspecting Wall Street investors who could not understand thecomplexities of Wall Street(Goodman2). The director should have considered the fact that there were manyviewers who had not read the memoir the film was based on. Theywanted to know the story through watching the film. It is, therefore,evidentthat they got a different impression of the story in thememoir. The film, which was awash with the illustrious love formoney, drugs, and women made it look like it is an achievable and anattractive thing to live that way. It was also exaggerated throughthe violence, performances, and the loud soundtrack. The directoralmost changed the seriousness of the themes in the memoir throughthe exaggerations of the film that made drug abuse, lustful living,and promiscuity fashionable rather than undesirable things thatJordan Belfort did with the money he had fleeced his clients throughhis stock brokerage firm.
Braveheart,a film directed by Mel Gibson, was also said to be based on a truestory. However, as it would emerge, the film was exaggerated far muchfrom the facts in the tale of William Wallace as a freedom fighterfrom Scotland in the 13thCentury. The historical did not follow all the facts in WilliamWallace’s story. In fact, some critics said that the onlyhistorical fact about the story is the fact that it was based inScotland. This is one of the many films that exaggerate a story bygiving a different impression of the main character. Theexaggerations also changed the theme of the story. Firstly, the filmdepicted William Wallace as a peasant who came from humble beginningsin Scotland. This was in deed far from the truth because William wasa member of the Scottish Elite that led the cause of freedom. Gibsonwent around historical accuracies to meet Hollywood’s goals of themovie rather than depicting the accuracy of events, characters, andideas(Ross11). For instance Gibson presented William’s background as a childborn in poverty through the simple life of a peasant before he waslater taken by his uncle Argyle after the death of his father in aScottish-English battle. Historically, William was a Scottisharistocracy who was already a knight by the time the Battle ofStirling began.
Hischoice of clothing in the film was kilts that were worn by Scottsabout five years later. This was a gross historical inaccuracy thoughthere could be some legitimate cinematic grounds for theexaggeration. The soldiers had uniforms in the film, which is was notcustomary in Wallace’s age. Martial dresses had not become amilitary norm until the seventeenth century. In Wallace’s agesoldiers wore anything they could find at their disposal as opposedto uniforms as Gibson portrayed in the film. The film showed thatWilliam had an affair with the daughter –in-law of the EnglishKing, Isabella. In reality, this could not have happened because theIsabella was only three years old at that time and was living inFrance. Exaggerations such as these could be a case of creativefreedom that directors exercise of real-life stories that Gibson wasnot an exception in this film. It is true that the Scotts had thePicts’ tradition of painting their faces with blue colors as a wayto scare off their enemies but they did so long before William’sdays. The blue-face paint was great and it achieved the cinematicvalue that Gibson intended. He exaggerated it to make the film as“Scottish” as possible. Of course to a modern viewer, blue-facepainting is synonymous to Scottish culture. Even though the traditionchanged to all the colors of the Scottish flag, blue-face paint isstill representative of Scottish tradition especially in sportingevents. The blue-face paint was used to exaggerate the Scottishorigins of William Wallace. During Wallace’s age, the Scotts nolonger painted their faces in blue colors.
Howcould Hollywood tell the story without the proverbial Bridge at theBattle of Stirling? This is a question that most viewers probablyasked each other when the film was out. Hollywood omits suchimportant facts with the excuse of making the film cinematicallyappealing. The Battle was as significant point in the war becausethat was when the Scotts emerged victors over the English. The Bridgewas small and badly-built. It could only three people at a time tocross to the other side. While English soldiers crossed to the otherside of the Bridge, William led the Scotts in killing the entireEnglish Army almost immediately. It was in deed the turning point ofthe quest for Scottish independence from England. Gibson gave acompletely exaggerated version of the Battle of Stirling. In thefilm, the Scotts built large pikes to tame the huge cavalry as theyrode behind the English cavalry while taking out their archers.Gibson intentionally flouted the historical plausibility forcinematic appeal using huge heavy cavalries to show the intensity ofthe battle.
DavidFincher’s “Social Network”
Accordingto Mark Zuckerberg, “social network” did not show the truth abouthis life before and during the formation of Facebook. The filmdirected by David Fincher showed that Zuckerberg had a badrelationship with everyone while setting up Facebook. The filmedclaimed that one of the reasons Zuckerberg set up Facebook was to getgirls something that he really denied after the movie was released.The truth is that Zuckerberg had a fairly intact relationship beforeFacebook obtained commercial success (Fincher,Mezrich, Sorkin, Spacey 45). Moreover, the contribution of AndrewGarfield in setting up Facebookwas also exaggerated. In reality, heplayed a smaller role than as depicted in the film. The filmsuggested that Garfield was the main investor when he actually workedfor the Facebook for only six months. It was not quite clear whyGreengrass had to move away from the truth. At least for this film,there was no sufficient justification for that because it is based ona more recent subject in history than the others films discussedabove.
Mostspectacular Hollywood productions are designed to function morestrongly on their own terms, even in the case of franchise sequelsand spin-offs from other media such as comic books or video games.Directors exaggerates films as a way of seeks to maximise thepossible combination of audience constituencies. They continue tomobilize thematic narrative patterns that are somewhat off the truthof the origin story, play, memoir or narrative. Directors lendthemselves very easily to modes of narrative analysis that focus onqualities such as thematic oppositions structured into culturaltexts. For most viewers, Hollywood films can often be read asimplicitly offering attempts to reconcile thematic oppositions, aspart of pleasurable fantasy they offer to them.
Hollywooddirectors aim at sticking to the terms of the industry and somehowreach and resonate with a target audience(Ghiglione,Loren, and Saltzman 106). There must be something about the film thatis understandable to the audience and that draws the audience in andholds its interest. After all, Hollywood is built on the idea ofbroad appeal and populist impulses rather than reflecting the realityof the story in a film. Film makers seldom wish to simply replicatethe ordinary life of characters on the screen. Viewers should look atHollywood as a mirror of sorts, or a collection of mirrors, each ofwhich may distort or exaggerate a story or drama (p. 108). Itreflects somethings clearly and hardly reflects other at all. Thus,films reflect different aspects of the culture on which they areembedded. Sometimes a director comes to a project wishing to convey aparticular message in the film. In other times, the goal is simpler,aiming at providing a couple of hours of escape from life. The makersof mainstream films such as the ones discussed above, aim at holdingthe interest of at least some segment of the public. The economicrealities of film demand that they do so.
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Robertson,Stuart. "A View from the Pew on Gibson`s Passion." Shofar:An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 23.3 (2005): 105-109.
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