I am not going to see the Hawking Biopic (“Theory of Everything”). I tolerated the Turing biopic (“The Imitation Game”), but I can hardly admit to being an unbiased audience for it.
For starters, my little bit of knowledge let me see some of the glaring omissions and changes. The machine was called Colossus, not a cuddly/romantic “Charlie.” The equally heroic engineer who actually built the machine, using his own money because they wouldn’t fund it, was cut out entirely (as, I read since, was the rather smarter codebreaker who broke the harder German code and shortened the war by another two years). Then the dramatic over-simplifications were just insulting, from the idea these codebreaking experts wouldn’t think to look for common words without special inspiration, to “OMG my brother’s on that ship!”
But even if it had been a brilliant film, got all its facts right, if young BC had stuttered like the real Turing, I would still have had an issue with it. Because after the film, you would still see an actor’s face in your head and scenes from the film when you thought of Turing. Because to fit things into dramatised film, you cannot but simplify and turn things into a dramatic story, and life is seldom like that. The search for a “narrative” with heroes, villains, and lessons is one way media, politicians, and our own selves manipulate and lead us astray.
This is less important for more distant events; out of living memory, or thousands of years ago, is alright for me. Hundreds is alright if they get their history right (or SO WRONG that you can just treat it as outright fantasy, like Braveheart or 300).
What is wrong with just making a documentary, possibly with some dramatised scenes? Space Race was great in that way; a drama-doc where you can buy into the actors and the situations while getting the facts and being aware it’s a dramatisation.
Maybe it’s one of my deficiencies: I can’t easily separate a mixture of fact and fiction, like I hate sweet and sour food. But then, I’m not sure everyone else can as easily as they might think…
As for Hawking, I’ve seen the documentary film (plus the car-crash of an interview afterwards; who had the bright idea of a non-scripted interview with a guy who now takes a day to write a sentence?) I’ll leave it at that, thank you.