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Old November 8th, 2003, 06:34 PM   #1
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Docu-dramas? What's your take on it?

What do you think of docu-dramas that take real world events and twist / bend / add to the truth?

Recent examples:
CBS just pulled their docu-drama on Reagan because of pressure from several groups.

CBS is also working on a docu-drama of Jessica Lynch told from the point of view of the lawyer ... some of the events may or may not have happened
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Old November 8th, 2003, 06:36 PM   #2
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What do you think of loaded questions?
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Old November 8th, 2003, 06:38 PM   #3
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I like loaded questions, if I knew everyone's answer, there'd be no point in posting them.

So what's your take on docu-dramas, Richard?
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Old November 9th, 2003, 06:49 PM   #4
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For me personally, it depends on the subject. I like documentaries and I like fictional narratives (dramas, as well as other genres). I feel that a docu-drama is more of narrative based on fact, than a straight documentary (which I believe to be more factual in nature).

I doubt I would have watched the Reagan flick and have no real desire to watch the J Lynch movie either. I do like historical documentaries, but I like factually based pieces than docu-dramas (ie: where the facts aren't made up to fill the story).

Just an opinion.
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Old November 9th, 2003, 10:54 PM   #5
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Thoughts on the Elizabeth Smart docudrama tonight? I thought it was pretty well done...however some parts I have to say looked like they were pretty rushed. Some parts didn't seem portrayed exactly right either.
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Old November 10th, 2003, 08:51 AM   #6
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It's a tough thing to deal with. Problem is, docudramas often are very slanted in one direction or another, generally depending on who the producers are.

There was an article that just the other day that came out, telling Jessica Lynch's side of the tale, with her suggesting that both the media and the military exaggerated the whole thing, and that she finds it hurtful because it's half true, and that her story was being used to fulfill a purpose. She wasn't talking about the film, but you can be sure the film is just reflecting the same beautiful and heroic tale told by the military and the press that Jessica herself says is hokum. But then again, she did make a bundle in book rights with some version of her tale.

To me that's not just artistic license; it's also propaganda. But to someone who perceives the situation in a different light, they may just consider it a wonderful allegory for the heroism for our troops. You know, it's fine if you want to boost the troops, but it should be done with a true tale, or with 100% fiction so everybody knows it's an allegory. It's just plain irresponsible to distort reality to accomplish your goal. 50% truth and 50% fiction can be a dangerous mix.

And the Reagan thing; that thing was supposedly 'leftist' and in response to the very 'rightist' thing called DC 911 that Showtime put out. Both of these films were supposedly full of 'creative fabrication' and could hardly be called history. The only reason DC 911 was shown and not the Reagan thing is probably because one was on Showtime (cable), while the other was on a regular network channel.

As somebody who despises extremism in either the right or left, I find this kind of stuff awful. But the trouble is, filmmaking is ultimately a creative art. And if we can't even legislate private interest and advertising slant out of our news media, then we sure as heck can't legislate any kind of fairness in docudramas. Even though they often claim to be fact.

But then, docudramas can do wonderful things too. In the past, docudramas have dealt successfully with varying topics from slavery, racism or nuclear warfare, to drugs, alcohol, anorexia and bulimia. Often these topics have been dealt with using half-truths, but (assuming you agree with me that slavery and racism and such are bad), they have ultimately exhorted people towards the greater good.

The problem is really that people vehemently disagree about what is really 'for the greater good.'

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Old November 10th, 2003, 11:33 AM   #7
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While I don't agree with the way that the filmmakers wanted to show Reagan, we all have to remember that it's only a matter of time before Hollywood does this. How many times has JFK been tarnished in movies and tv series? How about Roosevelt?

About the Lynch movie...I thought the cinematography was well done! The battle scenes can rank right up there with Black Hawk Down...yes..I thought it was that good. Also, the acting was not bad and the lighting was great. Also liked the "gritty" film look they gave the film.

Aside from that, nothing new here...same propaganda..although they didn't show the SpecOps guys running into the hospital with guns-a-blazing while rescuing Lynch. At least they got that right.
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Old November 10th, 2003, 12:23 PM   #8
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You have to remember what a docudrama is. The was (at one time) pretty heavy requirements on anything you called a documentary. Dramas have no such requirements since they are by nature fiction.

By merging the two, you have a fictionalized documentary.

Is this bad? No, not necessarily, unless the fiction is regarded as the truth.

For example, consider the movie Patton. While its not really a docudrama it is close to one and a commercial success. How many people believe it is really what happened in WWII?

Frankly, I take a dim view of docudramas. Despite claims of artistic freedom, just remember it would not be made unless there was a hope of commercial success. Whatever the truth is, it better not get in the way of its commercial success. Generally, the truth goes out the window with the first piece of dialog.
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