Essays · Movies

When Film Recreates History

By  · Published on March 16th, 2017

A comparative video pits reality against cinema.

When it comes to recreating history in film, the medium finds itself in a precarious position: on the one hand it needs to portray the events and people in question with some degree of accuracy, while at the same time, straight facts are for documentaries and narrative filmmaking requires a little more subjectivity and personal filtering for the sake of story. It’s a spectrum, this position, and one in which directors can lean closer to or further away from verisimilitude depending on their intentions. Oliver Stone is a good example of a director who does both: in films like Salvador, Nixon, or Snowden he leans towards historical objectivity; in films like World Trade Center, JFK, or W. he uses history as a basis for a more subjective study.

In the following, really quite cool video from our friend Vugar Efendi, scenes from films depicting historical persons and events – including La Vie En Rose, Catch Me If You Can, Man on the Moon, The Doors, The Fighter, and Jackie – have been paired side-by-side with the same scenes from historical records to reveal just how closely or disparately the former recreates the latter. Some are naturally more accurate than others, but in every case you can see the inspiration taken from real life for our cinematic edification.

This is top-notch stuff, and knowing Efendi’s penchant for video series – he’s also done a few depicting visual art inspirations in film – I for one am hoping this isn’t the only time he broaches the subject.

Films are listed in the body of the video, as well as historical sources.

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