Oscars: Straight or With a Twist?

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“History,” said Henry Ford, “is more or less bunk.” The guy who invented the assembly line might have been talking about the Hollywood entertainment mill. Historical inaccuracies, trivial and flagrant, have been a part of movie making for years.

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend!” director John Ford declared. There’s no Oscar for verisimilitude, thank heavens, or “A Beautiful Mind” would be out of luck.

Take a messy life and marriage, delete the illegitimate kid, some ugly racist delusions and gin up an inspiring story about a woman who stands by her mentally ill man, Russell Crowe.

Come on down! That’s what Hollywood is good at! Taking liberties with real lives. Would you want it any other way? Movies, true, false and tittilating.


Charles Taylor, film critic, Salon.com

Jeanine Basinger, professor of American Studies, Film Studies and Art, Wesleyan University.