Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Allan Brown0
Movies Based On A True Story….Or So We Thought #3
We don’t ask a lot from our movies but sometimes a film comes along that takes on special credence and extra meaning especially when it’s been marketed as ‘based on a true story’. The simple thought of knowing someone has lived through the events being played out on screen adds a weight which in turn helps encapsulate it’s audience. However if you’re going to tag movies Based On A True Story all we ask is that you make the story, you know, kind of true.
Escape to Victory
The Hollywood Version:
During World War II a group of Allied prisoners made up by the most unlikely trio alive, including the legendary Pele, Michael Caine and Sly Stallone. This group of improbable comrades see most of the war in a Nazi prison where their time is surprisingly made up by playing football. The Nazis, being the quick witted fella’s that they were, devised a can’t loose propaganda extravaganza in which a team of the best talent the SS could rally together to challenge the Allied side (clearly having never heard of Pele).
The Allied team naturally accepts, hoping to use the game as a means of escape. However, once the astonishing opportunity presents itself during halftime interval, they choose instead to return to the pitch in an attempt to beat the Nazis thus winning respect, rather than their freedom. It should be noted that they were relying on Stallone as their goalkeeper and after a miraculous save the ensuing chaos and rejoicing allows the Allies to make their escape.
In reality …
Well were do you start? For one thing, there was no Allied team; therefore no random legendary Brazilian footballer like Pele, no cheeky Brit like Caine, and certainly no out of place italian like Stallone manning the net. Instead, this story is inspired by a group of Ukrainians who were forced into playing the Germans while their country was occupied during WWII.
The Nazis lost to the upstart club miserably and repeatedly, with the Ukrainians destroying them in the final match by a decisive and wholly embarrassing 8-0 score.
Shortly after, the Gestapo found various reasons to arrest and then torture several members of the Ukrainian team. One player died during the torture process, while the rest were shipped off to a work camp and in-turn executed.
Good Morning, Vietnam
The Hollywood Version:
Vietnam, it would seem, was not a good time for America. Forrest Gump, Willem Dafoe and Michael Sheen will all contest this. So how could a regular man or woman make it through without blowing their brains out?
Adrian Cronauer, that’s how. A radio disc jockey from Detroit. Cronauer who gave the finger to ‘the man’ and expressed himself through ranting and raving with the funniest, craziest dialogue you’re likely to ever here over a radio, accompanied by a fantastic ’60s rock n roll soundtrack. In his limited spare time he would also teach impressionable Vietnamese citizens to curse angrily and play baseball along the way.
Cronauer, as portrayed in the movie, is a staunch anti-war liberal. Half of his rantings have to do with how ridiculous the establishment is, or why Army fashion is simply awful. He told the Army to stick it repeatedly and with great emphasis, and for his troubles he was sent off to face a commanding officer before being booted out of the Army.
In reality …
Well, everything listed above that plays out in the movie is pretty much fabricated. It but it turns out that, Adrian Cronauer’s story was completely re-tooled in order to fit the manic comedy stylings of Robin Williams.
In reality, while Cronauer did indeed play DJ he rarely resorted to flat out comedy, and in fact stated that pretty much everything Williams did in the film would have got him court martialed. He was never booted from the military, either. His exit from the military was far more controversial: he went home when his tour was over.
Next time I will name and shame 2 more movies Based On A True Story….Or So We Thought