Saturday, February 23, 2013

Argo Reality Distortion

After Argo…
Felicity: “based on” a true story…
Jason: Means events are compressed, rearranged, or even invented, for the sake of a smoother narrative.
Felicity: To keep you asking, “What happens next?”
Jason: Exactly. Now there’s this “Argo” film. Based on a true story.
Felicity: Gripping. I saw it.
Jason: Well yes, suspenseful it is. But when you read the original account of events, you realize that the escapees cruised through the airport, except for their passports being taken away for inspection at one point. The film  cranked up the tension; showed them waiting for their tickets to come through, negotiating three security points, being subjected to a rigorous interrogation, their shredded photos being matched against their passports in the next room, and the aircraft being chased down the runway by police cars.
Felicity: Didn’t you think that the police cars chasing an Airbus down the runway was taking tension to its artificial Hollywood extreme?
Tension is achieved by juxtaposed causal links, speed and convergence.
In a movie like Argo, what you see is not what actually happened.
It’s a distortion of real events.
Artists distort, writers distort, filmmakers distort.
Anyone who tells stories distorts.
But a closer to real account as related by Joshua Bearman in Wired (2007) seems more interesting.

How might we fix this distortion problem in Argo?
To tell the story truthfully, but maintaining a frisson.
Not easy.
Use actual events to tell what really happened.
And chronologically.
For example:
As they pass what was an uneventful trip to the airport, each person muses separately on possible snags…
Psychological tension instead of fabricated events.
Nevertheless, it was a well-crafted suspenseful Hollywood version.

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