Fiction Snatched from the Jaws of Truth

Many films take real-life historical characters to play major and/or important roles that add to a movie’s overall message. Everyone from William Wallace to King Baldwin IV has gripped audiences with their strong characters and pivotal roles. But these depictions of people long dead are by all means not entirely accurate. Often they are made sympathetic to allow the filmmakers to showcase a message or idea and while that is fine in fiction, circumstances are different for "nonfiction" films often boasted as "true stories" (not always prefaced by "based on" or "inspired by"). Should we allow films to bastardize these real-life people and depict them falsely against the actual things they did, only focusing on limited aspects or ideas of who they were? Examine the treatment of real-life figures in film and changes made to them to suit the work’s needs as opposed to the truth (such as ignoring or conveniently avoiding mentioning how they too tortured, raped, stole raped or hurt others to get their way) and if there could ever be a truly "nonfiction" film, if such liberties must always be taken. (Remember, even documentaries are written and edited to suit the goals of the makers.) Also examine if there is a differing treatment of long-dead, near-dead and still-living subjects of a film (such as Jesus, Winston Churchill and Bob Dylan, respectively).

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