Once again, some of the creative geniuses of Hollywood have shown us that when it comes to true stories, the drama, passion, richness and humor of real life are never good enough. Unfortunately, this will ever be so. Many of the people who are attracted to the world of directing and screenwriting have egos that are five sizes larger than their talents. When it comes to entertainment, they know best. And so they gobble amazing works of non-fiction, which could on their own make any audience cheer, and spew them out onto the silver screen. The result is too often neither entertaining, nor historically accurate.
But that is how Hollywood too often works: artless regurgitation sells. Just put enough money behind it, and tart it up with big names, and the suckers will come.
Recent evidence of this trend is “Moneyball,” the baseball movie “based” on the book by Michael Lewis. The film strays far from the book, and Washington Post editor David Maraniss weighs in convincingly on the side of truth, beauty and the real meaning of life and baseball:
But I absolutely hate the movie “Moneyball” and everything it stands for. I think it is a fraud, one that people I respect bought into, for what they thought were noble reasons having to do with little guys vs. the big bulllies. I also dislike the philosophy of moneyball as it applies to sports. My problem with the movie is a matter of truth. My problem with the philosophy is a question of art and beauty.
The best among those who write and direct movies know a good story when they see one. It takes this sensitivity and restraint to leave well enough alone, to resist the urge to gild the perfectly beautiful lily.