More on the ‘Based on Actual Events’ Idea

The idea outlined in Comic #864 is one I keep having, every time I watch a movie that purports to be based on actual events. I’m fascinated by the juxtaposition of real life with the fictionalizations of it — how well did the actors do at playing real people? What liberties had to be taken with the story? How close is that speech to the real speech, that was really delivered, and that we have on tape? I wish there was one central place I could go to find out!

In my perfect conception, it’d be a site that’s indexed by movie, by real-life person, and by event. So with a click I could see photos and clips of, say, all the different actors who’ve played Nixon (like Frank Langella, Anthony Hopkins, and Dan Hedaya, above), and compare them with the real Nixon. I could also see which stories about the life of the real Nixon took liberties with the facts, and in what ways.

I could also read about movies that feature Nixon that I might not have seen, and there’d be links to YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon — anyplace I could watch or buy them.

It would be a big undertaking as a standalone site, or it’d be neat if it was some branch-off of IMDb or Wikipedia. Wikipedia does sometimes address historical accuracy in their articles about individual movies (such as this one on The King’s Speech), and of course there are reviews and articles in the press about any big movie, but I’d have to go looking for that information specifically; it’s not centralized anywhere.

If such a site were to exist, and become popular, I wonder if filmmakers would get nervous that they were being fact-checked? Would it ruin the illusion that that’s really, say, Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, if there’s a site dedicated to comparing Forest Whitaker’s portrayal to the real thing? I don’t know!

Anyway this is a free startup idea! Somebody invest a ton of money into developing and researching this, and make it quick — I just watched Moneyball.