Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ben Affleck and Argo and Mostly True Stories

Ben Affleck gave an interesting interview to NPR (National Public Radio)  after his surprise win at the Golden Globe Awards for Best Director and Best Picture for Argo, his story about the Iran Hostage Crisis.

The movie Argo is described as 'a mostly true story' and addressing this Affleck said that in order to make the film entertaining he had to walk the line between "the bookmaker's truth" and "the poet's truth."

I thought that was brilliant. You see, I'm not one of those Canadians who cares that Ken Taylor's part in the affair was (supposedly) given short shrift in the film.

I tend not to believe 'official' government versions of things anyway. I liked the movie just the way it is.

I have just watched all of  the mini-series I Claudius, again, after 30 years.  When I first watched it I was taking Classics and reading Suetonius at school.

I downloaded The Lives of the Caesars again from Gutenberg.

Statue of Augustus. It's idealize, so you can't even believe the statues.

I've always understood that Robert Graves' book, which I also read about that time, is more about British society than Roman society.

Otherwise, who would be interested?

And the Roman History part is only hearsay anyway.

What is History anyway?

I've been pondering this as I wrote Threshold Girl which I have posted on Amazon Kindle.

Threshold Girl is about a young woman in the pivotal 1910 era - and it is based on real letters.

In his book about WWI Marching As to War, in the preface, populist historian Pierre Berton describes the 1910 era in Canada as having two main themes, Westward HO and the New Woman. And it was an era where the Protestants tried to push their values on everyone else.

And my 1910 letters reflect that big time. They tell the story of 3 young new Presbyterian women and a brother who moved out West.

Still, no one wanted to print these letters. "Letters are boring," said one agent.

Letters, it seems are too close to real life for anyone to be interested in, except scholars. So publishers believe.

Once again proving Affleck's point, as if the box office success of Argo hasn't already.

Soon after finding these Nicholson Family letters, I contacted the top-selling writer of historical fiction for Young Adults in Canada for advice about writing a story around the letters and she said "Go for the story, not the history."

She too agreed with Ben Affleck.

In Threshold Girl I try to do both. I try to stay true to the history and I 'sex' it up a bit.

Still, even today, I worry if I should change a bit in the story, where I claim the women are walking on a sidewalk in Mile End 1910. That was a new district, did they even have sidewalks I wonder?

And does it really matter?