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September 7, 2005
Hollywood's Great Constant

My new Weekly Standard column, "Hollywood's Great Constant", talks about the odd relationship between the film industry and reality. No, it doesn't address Barbra Streisand and her politics, but the films themselves and how they address reality -- and the reactions of the film critics to the presentation of fact and fiction. I note the critical spanking given to The Great Raid for its realistic and harrowing depiction of the brutal treatment given POWs and Filipinos during Japanese occupation, and compare it to the critics who celebrated the farcical distortions present in The Constant Gardener:

One might argue that The Constant Gardener should be forgiven its sins, since it is a work of fiction. Many film critics shun this line of argument. Over 90 percent of critics give it positive reviews and their approbation ties directly to their perception of The Constant Gardiner as a film which addresses reality, not fiction. The Toronto Star calls it a "superlative drama . . . [which] deals with urgent issues of globalization and First World complicity in the exploitation of Third World people." The Minneapolis Star-Tribune recommends it to "viewers who like real-world issues interwoven with their fiction." The Los Angeles Times approvingly notes John Le Carr non-disclaimer disclaimer:

Nobody in this story, and no outfit or corporation, thank God, is based upon an actual person or outfit in the real world. But I can tell you this; as my journey . . . progressed, I came to realize that, by comparison with reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard.

Interestingly, the film industry and its critics have come to the same conclusion: They prefer films that take fiction and pass it off as uncomfortable fact, while excoriating the recreation of real and uncomfortable history onscreen.

I thought readers might enjoy a change of pace this week. Next week the Standard will celebrate its ten-year anniversary, so my next column will not appear until September 21.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 7, 2005 7:07 AM

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