There’s always panic when you’re playing someone as iconic as Hitchcock,… There’s that suspicion you might not have done that bit of research that would be crucial. I’m trying to make myself enough like that person so that it doesn’t become distracting.
Toby Jones on playing Hitchcock, in HBO’s The Girl
☞ The question of authenticity in Django Unchained again. This time, it’s not to do with the profuse use of profanities or with the use of the N-word, but with Mandingo fighting. The controversy here reminds one of the debate on the authenticity of the Russian roulette sequences in Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1978). Again, the question is how true should a movie be to history? Couldn’t a movie take liberties with facts in order to make the narrative more interesting?
“A key plot point of Quentin Tarantino’s western-blaxploitation-revenge movie is the supposed sport of Mandingo fighting, in which two (black) slaves fight in a bare-knuckle death match, for no reason other than the (white) slaveowners’ enjoyment. The search for the perfect Mandingo, or wrestler, is the vehicle Tarantino (who, of course, wrote and directed the film) builds the rest of his movie around. But a bevy of historians say it probably never happened.
One expert tells Slate (which says that “no slavery historian we spoke with had ever come across anything that closely resembled this human version of cockfighting”) that the very notion that Southerners would send off their slaves to die is logically flawed. Given the entire structure of slavery was based on economic expedience, it just doesn’t make much sense that a slaveowner would be willing to lose one of his strongest and healthiest men to death for sport.”
From HuffPost Entertainment: read more…
☞ Authenticity or truthfulness seems to be a major theme of responses to some recent films. The following is one of the preliminary responses to Zero Dark Thirty: that its depiction of the CIA is false. Senator John McCain also criticises the film’s inauthenticity with regard to its negative propaganda value for the United States.
“One of the most eagerly-anticipated movies of the holiday season, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, is getting very positive critical reviews ahead of its release, and it has emerged as an early Oscar contender. However, critics of the film are alleging it paints a misleading picture of the role of torture in getting the intelligence that led to tracking down Osama bin Laden. John McCain told Greta Van Susteren tonight that he has serious concerns with the portrayal of torture in the film, and has sent a letter to the head of Sony, the movie studio behind the film.
McCain explained that he watched the film, and it depicts very graphic torture scenes and waterboarding carried out by CIA interrogators, and the implication of the film is that torture was a “major factor” in receiving critical intelligence that led to the raid on bin Laden’s compound. He stated plainly that no important information related to bin Laden was a result of torture, and suggested the filmmakers received “bad information” in researching the film.
Van Susteren asked McCain what he is trying to accomplish with his letter to the head of Sony Pictures. McCain said the filmmakers should acknowledge that they had inaccurate information, despite the remarkable level of access they had from the CIA.
McCain made it clear that even if any important information was obtained as a result of torture, the fact that the United States is torturing people “harms the image of the United States.””
☞ There does seem to be a concern with truth and authenticity in responses to more recent films. The following is a discussion of this issue in Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
Next month marks the 35th anniversary of Roots, the 1977 miniseries that brought the subject of slavery to the water cooler for Black and White discussion in a major way during the post-Civil Rights era. Starting Friday night, BET will air all six episodes of Roots over the entire weekend. Two days after Roots: Part 6 fades to black, director Quentin Tarantino’s hotly anticipated slavery-era action flick Django Unchained opens nationwide Christmas Day. As these two competing slave narratives vie for attention (a White filmmaker’s romanticized version vs. an iconic Black writer’s ancestral history), now might be a good time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
First of all, Django Unchained could’ve gone horribly wrong. However brilliant a director, Quentin Tarantino is famous amongst people of color for fetishizing African-American culture, and his liberal use of the N-word in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown still rankles folks 15 years after the fact. Tarantino injecting a Blaxploitation-style baadassss freed slave into his vision of the antebellum South could’ve been disastrous. The director’s recent comments about Roots, which he has described as “inauthentic” also raised the eyebrows of many filmgoers who were already nervous about what his slavery narrative would bring. Any crass, gratuitous depiction of Whites raping actress Kerry Washington in a popcorn movie, and Django Unchained would’ve been a wrap.