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Opinion

Popular ‘based on a true story’ films provide more fiction than fact, but are worthwhile

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October 17, 2014

If you are a movie lover, you will know that there are a number of movies out there that are “based on a true story,” but what does this really mean?

How much of the “true story” needs to be part of the movie in order for them to be able to have that label? This week we are looking into some of the ideas what makes a “based on a true story” movie.

Let’s start with “Remember the Titans.” Most of us have probably heard of, if not seen, the movie. For those who haven’t, the movie is about a Virginia high school football team that becomes interracial after the turbulent 1960s. They fight amongst themselves, struggle, and then becoming a winning football team that dances before each game.

There is an implication that the Titans were the underdogs, a mixed team facing off against an all-white conference. In fact, the reality was quiet different.

“There were more than a few times that I felt genuinely sorry for the teams we played,” said Charles Mitchell, a backup running back from the team quoted on the ESPN website. “We would have won the state championship without the coaches, in my opinion. We were that dominating. We were that deep.”

In fact, at the end of the season, the Titans were the second-ranked team in the nation. Not only did the team not actually dance, but by that point in history, all the teams in conference were mixed.

Obviously, the actual tale of the Titans was far less dramatic than the movie would have you believe. In fact, many sports movies are like this. They take a general idea, and then make the team an underdog in need of inspiration.

Horror movies also love to claim to be based on a true story. Take, for instance, the film “The Conjuring.” This film tells the story of the Perron family’s haunted house and the paranormal investigators that helped them with it.

Obviously, since the movie deals with the supernatural, the truth of the facts is up for debate. The Perron family claims that the movie depicts mostly the truth. Although the haunting didn’t escalate the way the movie portrays it, the Perron family lived in the “haunted house” for many years. As for the rest of the movie, the person who haunted the house, Bathsheba, actually existed, though the family claims they didn’t recognize the spirit as her until the Warren’s came along.

Other “based on a true story” movies are “The Young Victoria,” “300,” and “The King’s Speech.” These movies are based on significant historical events, not just some event that the producers think is interesting. Nevertheless, both types of films have something to offer.

Hollywood will always take a story and try to make it into something that they think will be more entertaining. If they didn’t do this, than these “based on a true story” films would probably be called documentaries. They are meant to inspire, to scare or to entertain. Although they may not always be entirely true, the fact that they are based on something that actually happened, lends the film an extra something. For example, a horror movie based on a true story freaks you out a bit more. An inspiring story seems greater when we know that kind of thing happens in real life, not just “reel life.”

While watching Marvel movies can be a blast, we also can gain a lot from movies that are based on fact. Even if they are Hollywood- ized, the movies offer a view of reality that we may not encounter very often. This brings us out of the corner of the world we call our own and allows us to experience life.

Rachel Molitor is a student at UW-River Falls.