Sadly one of many Christmas traditions that Auntie Rona Virus has consigned to the bin is the post Christmas day trip to the cinema. So it’s Netflix or nothing. No, that’s not true. While I indulged my latent passion for jigsaw puzzles – 1000 pieces and a cartoonish picture for preference – I re-enjoyed the Tintin movie Spielberg made with Peter Jackson a while back. He took liberties – using three books to make one film – and some of the voicing left me wincing because down the years I’ve decided what each character sounds like. Actually, thinking about it, that’s one reason why seeing a film made of a favourite book can be disappointing, however great the attempt is. It’s not the screenplay necessarily (though that can grate) but the imposition of the actors on the characters and, particularly, the voices.
I digress. The Tintin movie was enjoyable enough, even if I only really had half an eye on it, while I tried to find the missing piece – did you see the gap? The film I did watch and give my full(ish) attention to was the Trial of the Chicago Seven, a Sorkin screenplay and Spielberg production. It’s an ensemble piece with a lot of fine acting talent on display. It’s basically a courtroom drama which limits the director’s scope for innovation and relies on the strength of the story and the acting.
And it’s a tremendous story of corruption, dirty politics, a generational struggle, a struggle for recognition – oh all sorts. And it resonates in many ways with the current times; today, the youthful protests are more climate based that antagonistic to a war and the BLM issues are just, sadly, the latest in a long line with those featured in this film as egregious as those that happened this year.
I didn’t know about this trial or its genesis so read about it, better to understand the context. Maybe it would have been better if I hadn’t because this was yet another compelling drama where the writer played fast and loose with the facts when he really didn’t need to because the facts were dreadful enough for any script.
Something about timelines. In life x doesn’t inexorably lead to y; it often meanders via p and back to b, while being influenced by w and a modified c. But Sorkin wanted to make it fit, so he could lift the drama and give the actors neat little justifications.
These things irritate me. I’m pretty sure I’d have happily sat, mouth open, disbelieving the political bias at the heart of this trial if I’d not checked. But, here’s the thing. If you make a film based on fact then base it on the sodding facts.
There’s a bit of a drama at the mo about the latest series of The Crown and some liberties taken with the behaviour of the Heir to the Throne. Some pompous arses want a health warning on the screen to say this is not a documentary. Oh come on, don’t be so patronising. It doesn’t matter; it’s just a bit of fluff about the Royal Family. It’s not important, beyond the fact they cost a small GDP to keep going. Whereas the machinations set out in the Chicago Seven’s story does have a relevance beyond it’s historical context. Some things are best not messed with.
Like Tintin books….
If you know the story of the Chicago Seven, without remembering the detail you’ll probably enjoy the fine acting. Just don’t fact check it. My mistake. I should have treated it for the fiction it was clearly meant to be; maybe if they’d put a health warning on it?
And if you don’t know the story, see it. It’s bloody horrifying…