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Thread: "This movie/show is based on a true story/events."

  1. #1
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    "This movie/show is based on a true story/events."

    Has anyone noticed how some of the most nonsensical stuff in movies and TV uses the "Based on a true story" to make it seem legit? You see this in a lot of stuff regarding UFOs, hauntings, etc. The movie "The Mothman Prophecies" used the "true story" tagline a lot. However, these "true stories" seem to me like nothing more than anecdotal evidence--claims that aren't supported by any kind of evidence or independent confirmation and are explicable in more prosaic terms (hallucinations, wishful thinking, mass hysteria/delusions, etc.).

    This complaint isn't really addressing science errors per se, but it does address the fact that suspension of disbelief, uncritical thinking, and promotion of pseudoscience and superstition are a huge market in the entertainment industry.

    Discuss.

  2. #2
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    Totaly agreed, it is lame they do that. However, one of the first things a professor of mine taught was let the buyer beware.

  3. #3
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    They are true stories as far as they are based on stories people contend are true, as opposed to stories that are written and claimed to be fiction. Whether the events actually occured as depicted is incidental. A Beautiful Mind is a true story with elements of fantasy and unreality.

  4. #4
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    I believe the Mothman was, in reality, simply an owl. From that single foundation-stone a whole edifice was constructed. The author (John Keel, IIRC) may have believed it to be true, but that doesn't make it so!

  5. #5
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    Re: "This movie/show is based on a true story/events.&q

    Quote Originally Posted by Jpax2003
    They are true stories as far as they are based on stories people contend are true, as opposed to stories that are written and claimed to be fiction. Whether the events actually occured as depicted is incidental. A Beautiful Mind is a true story with elements of fantasy and unreality.
    Therefore they're not true stories, since they lack objective evidence to support them.

    Whether the events actually occurred as depicted is critical to determining whether the narrative is a true story. Once facts get polluted by fantasy and unreality, the story ceases to be true.

  6. #6
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    The newer, even more lame version of "based on a true story" is "inspired by a true story". :roll:
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  7. #7
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    Hence "Based On". They took the genuinely true event that someone claims something weird happened to them, and then enhance it to present a story in which they aren't mistaken.

    So Planet X: The Movie would be Based On A True Story, as well.

  8. #8
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    One film I really liked was Fargo described as A true story;
    but it was not a true story at all- the part about it being true was just part of the story...

    http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/fargo.htm

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45
    One film I really liked was Fargo described as A true story;
    but it was not a true story at all- the part about it being true was just part of the story...

    http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/fargo.htm
    And that's what I don't get. Fargo is a great film, because it's a great story and has great acting and directing. That doesn't change because it's based on a true story or not. Some of the greatest stories are completely fiction, but they tell us something important - they present a greater truth. So why do movie and TV producers think that we are more likely to watch their product because it is "based on a true story". The same goes for all the stupid "reality" TV

    I suspect I've answered my own question.... most of this stuff is garbage, as far from a great story as you can get, and they know it. The "based on a true story" is just a stupid ploy to try to suck us in. So why does that work to suck folks in? Dang if I know.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  10. #10
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    Yet another one...

    Texas Chainsaw Massacre was also sold as "based on a true story".
    The "true story" part is supposed to be the story of real life killer Ed Gein.

    Ed Gein didnít use a chainsaw to kill people, he didnít live with a whole family of cannibals and no van full of young people ever got lost in his property... But there are some similarities. Ed Gein lived in a house... and the killer of the movie lived in a house!

    You see, it's really based on a true story! :roll:

  11. #11
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    What about Simon Birch? It claims to be "based on a true story", but the true story is actually work of fiction - thus the ridiculous number of dei ex machina.

    (Seriously, the people at Hollywood should get the idea that a tear-jerker must seem real to have its intended effect on people. A person being hit on the head by a fly ball from 50 yards away is not very likely, and can cheapen a movie that is otherwise not half bad.)

  12. #12
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    Re: Yet another one...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tha_Pig
    Ed Gein didnít use a chainsaw to kill people, he didnít live with a whole family of cannibals and no van full of young people ever got lost in his property... But there are some similarities. Ed Gein lived in a house... and the killer of the movie lived in a house!

    You see, it's really based on a true story! :roll:
    So I guess inspired by a true story works this way....

    Movie writer watches TV. Sees a news story about someone having trouble with the gutters on their house. Gutters makes him think about leaves. Leaves make him think about trees. Trees make him think about chainsaws. So he writes a movie script about killing people with chainsaws.

    Maybe I should be a script writer? :roll:
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  13. #13
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    What I find even more annoying than that are fictional stories set within a real historical context. You get films like U-571, for example, which people may well possibly come to regard as a true event as cinema/DVD is a more accessible media for the masses than history books. This makes them dangerous! Not only is history written by the winners of the wars, but they get to tweak and modify it in subsequent years - anyone who questions established history is branded as a "revisionist" and disregarded. One thing that U-571 is a good example of, actually, is the often seen phenomena of Hollywood's exageration of the US contribution to the second world war, coupled with a downplaying of the role played by the other allies.

    Other recent films which annoy me for that reason include, but are not limited to:

    Titanic
    Saving Private Ryan
    Braveheart
    Pearl Harbour

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conrad
    I believe the Mothman was, in reality, simply an owl. From that single foundation-stone a whole edifice was constructed. The author (John Keel, IIRC) may have believed it to be true, but that doesn't make it so!
    I've not read Keel's book on the Mothman, but in his Disneyland of the Gods it's pretty obvious to anyone with a lick of sense (probably not most of Keel's readers) that his tongue is firmly in cheek and he's laughing all the way to the bank.

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