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We have all seen movies or read books that claim to be based on a true story. It’s a phrase that evokes a sense of intrigue, mystery, and authenticity. But what does it really mean when a story is based on a true story? Does it mean that every detail in the story actually happened, or are there creative liberties taken? In this blog post, we will explore what it means when a story is based on a true story, the different degrees of truthfulness, and the impact it has on the audience.
The Degrees of Truthfulness
When we hear the phrase “based on a true story,” we automatically assume that the story is completely true. However, this is not always the case. There are different degrees of truthfulness when it comes to stories based on true events.
Loosely Based on a True Story
The first degree of truthfulness is when a story is loosely based on a true story. In this case, the writer or director has taken some inspiration from a true story but has taken creative liberties with the characters, events, and setting. The story may be set in a different time period or location, and the characters may be composites of real people.
For example, the movie “The Revenant” is loosely based on the real-life story of Hugh Glass, a frontiersman who was mauled by a grizzly bear and left for dead. While the basic premise of the story is true, the details have been changed for dramatic effect. In the movie, Glass seeks revenge on the men who left him for dead, but in real life, he forgave them and continued to work as a fur trader.
Based on a True Story
The second degree of truthfulness is when a story is based on a true story. In this case, the writer or director has taken a real-life event and used it as the basis for the story. The characters, events, and setting may be dramatized for entertainment purposes, but the basic facts of the story are true.
For example, the movie “The Social Network” is based on the true story of the founding of Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg. While some details have been changed for dramatic effect, the basic premise of the story is true. Zuckerberg did create Facebook while he was a student at Harvard, and there were legal disputes over the ownership of the company.
The third degree of truthfulness is when a story is a true story. In this case, the writer or director has presented the events exactly as they happened, with no creative liberties taken. The characters, events, and setting are all true to life.
For example, the movie “Schindler’s List” is a true story about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. The events in the movie are based on the real-life accounts of the survivors, and the characters are all based on real people.
The Impact on the Audience
When a story is based on a true story, it can have a powerful impact on the audience. It can evoke emotions such as empathy, outrage, and inspiration. The audience may feel a deeper connection to the story and the characters because they know that it is based on real events.
However, the impact on the audience can be negative if the story is not truthful. If the writer or director has taken creative liberties with the story, it can lead to misinformation and confusion. The audience may believe that the events in the story are completely true, when in fact they are not.
Another negative impact on the audience can be if the true story is exploited for entertainment purposes. This can be seen in reality television shows that claim to be based on true events but are actually scripted and manipulated for dramatic effect.
Examples of the Impact on the Audience
One example of a story that had a powerful impact on the audience is the movie “Hidden Figures”. This movie is based on the true story of three African American women who worked at NASA in the 1960s and played a pivotal role in the space race. The movie accurately portrayed the racism and sexism that the women faced and the determination and intelligence that they exhibited. The movie inspired many people and brought attention to the important contributions that these women made to science and space exploration.
On the other hand, there are examples of stories that have had a negative impact on the audience because they were not truthful. One example is the movie “Argo”. This movie is based on the true story of a CIA operation to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980. However, the movie took creative liberties with the events and characters in the story, which led to criticism and accusations of propaganda.
In conclusion, the phrase “based on a true story” can mean different things, from loosely based to completely true. The impact on the audience can also vary, from inspiring and informative to misleading and manipulative. As consumers of media, it is important to be aware of the degrees of truthfulness in the stories we consume and to approach them with a critical eye. By doing so, we can better understand the world around us and make informed decisions based on facts rather than fiction.