Archive for May, 2012

How Real is the Reel?

Excuse my logic but as someone who craves logic, I often find myself in the discordant position of liking a motion picture but at the same time being bothered by inaccuracies or lack of reality.

Four of my favorite films of all time have been made in the past decade. They are “Swordfish,” released in 2001; “Pearl Harbor” released in 2001; “The Ring” released in 2002 and “The Day After Tomorrow” released in 2004.

In “Swordfish,” John Travolta’s character Gabriel Shear confronts the diabolical Senator Reisman who is trout fishing in an idyllic stream.  He tells the Senator “Thomas Jefferson once shot a man on the lawn of the White House for treason.”  Historians are virtually unanimous in dismissing this as a plain falsehood. Jefferson never shot a man on the White House lawn. Travolta’s line makes for great theater as he waves his pistol and fires upon the Senator but it is pure fantasy.

In “Pearl Harbor” Franklin Delano Roosevelt is addressing the members of the House and Senate immediately after D-Day.  Someone utters the line to Roosevelt that a retalliation against Japanvery quickly would be “impossible.” The Roosevelt character pounds his hands on the table in front of him and pushes himself up into a standing position and even takes a few steps.  As we all know Roosevelt had polio and such an action would be highly unlikely. The Roosevelt character proclaims “Nothing is impossible.”  I found this scene to be incredibly stirring.  Yes, I actually loved the scene. However, then that voice of logic starts playing in my head and I realize, this just didn’t happen.

In “The Ring” the Naomi Watts character Rachel is searching Cabin 12 at Shelter Mountain and happens upon a long dormant well covered up in one of the back rooms of the cabin.  She accidentally falls down into the well where the body of Samara, the little girl whose mother pushed her down there, has been lying undisturbed for 30 years.  The incredible part of this is that Samara’s body is not decomposed. It is completely preserved.  I did a little research on this subject and found that a human body in water decomposes 2 times slower than a body exposed to air.  In a warm climate a body exposed to air can decompose as quickly as in one week. So in water, let’s say being generous a body would decompose in a matter of months.  To depict a body as not decomposing in 30 years is preposterous. Of course, this is a fictional horror story and there is such a thing as artistic license. Maybe I am just a kill joy.

In the last film mentioned above, “The Day After Tomorrow” released in 2004 we have an inaccuracy that I believe can’t be dismissed as artistic license.  When the tsunami is seen thundering toward Manhattanit closes in on the Statue of Liberty inUpper New York Bay.  The tsunami is coming out of the west (ie. from the direction of where New Jersey sits).  The problem with this is that the Statue of Liberty as mentioned is in a bay. It is not near any ocean. How would a tsunami of this size be generated from a bay?  Oh I get it. It was high tide you say.

“Surf’s Up!”

I never tire of watching these four classic movies over and over again. They have become familiar and comfortable to me, like an old pair of shoes.  However as comfy as that old pair of shoes may be, it doesn’t mean they don’t have holes.

Copyright 2012; Greg S.

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