Truth, Justice…and Then There’s Film

Before I saw the new film, The Finest Hours, I made the mistake of reading a movie critic’s scouring of the film. The critic, who quite apparently did not like the film, especially criticized the female lead, the male character’s fiancé. He would have been happier if the female character was not included.

(Coming Up – Spoiler Alert!)

In fact, the true-to-life story was not told as it really happened. What the movie changes is the truth about the female character’s role in the daring rescue of the survivors of a tanker that split in two during a fierce nor’easter storm.

My husband, a master researcher, found that Miriam, the fiancé, was actually home ill in bed and never participated in the village’s support of the rescue. And, even more divergent from the truth—Miriam and Bernie Webber were already married when the heroic rescue happened.

So, if you do plan to see the movie, I won’t share any other revelations so you can enjoy the plot as is.

What I do recognize are the writers’ attempts to appeal to a female demographic by beefing up the female role and creating a sense that women can be heroic as well—which also can increase the viewer numbers.

Now if you’re looking for total veracity in film, you’ll have a better time of it if you check out documentaries. Documentaries purportedly show truth. Think of it—if something is being filmed, the choice of what to include can dramatically change the viewer’s perception. So, does that choice change the truth of what’s being shown?

Take a reality show. The reality shows everyone loves so much are not necessarily true. Scripting comes into play. Who would watch something with no suspense and no drama?

Back to The Finest Hours. The fact is the rescue was still dramatic and worth watching. In a group of movie lovers who saw the film, even very knowledgeable film buffs were emotional. I know I got choked up.

The fact is also that Bernie Webber had guts and determination. His crew performed extraordinarily in an impossible situation. And 32 tanker survivors owed their lives to Bernie and his crew.

So, when you see a film, the operational term is “suspension of disbelief.” We enter the world of the film. If the film is engaging and entertaining, we accept the truth as is shown.

And, sometimes we do just need to be entertained and challenged.

In real life, unlike reel life, we just want the truth.

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