Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.

When wandering around the internet recently, as I am wont to do, I stumbled across this story about the New York Times publishing a correction to their 1853 article, in which misspelled Solomon Northup’s name  – the man at the centre of the story told in the Oscar-winning film “12 Years a Slave”. It fascinated me that I could go into their archives and read the original article. If you’re interested – the full article is here. Obviously, spoilers abound – so wait until you’ve seen the film if you don’t want to find out what happens. (That goes for the rest of the blog entry too, by the way!)

Given the number of films in this year’s best picture nominations at the Oscars which are based on a true story (five films out of nine nominated), I then started to wonder what other articles and stories would be available from the time of the original act that inspired the film. Not stories that had been written as puff-pieces to promote the movie, but ones that were produced before the film was even a twinkle in the screenwriter’s (or producer’s) eye.

The one with the most articles was Captain Phillips – given how recently events took place (2009), and the global nature of the story, this is hardly surprising. There were several news stories that broke, following the story as it all unfolded. You can read an LA Times article here and a full story, including quotes and interviews with the crew, is available at the Wall Street Journal.

After seeing Philomena, I received the book by Martin Sixsmith – on which the film is based – from my parents for Christmas, so I was already filled in on the background. The original tale wouldn’t have hit the headlines, but the Independent interviewd the author on the book’s release, and you can read that here 

I was only dimly aware of Wolf of Wall Street being based on the memoirs of a real life person, having assumed it was a generic tale of excess and debauchery, much like Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. So I was extremely surprised to find, after only a little digging, this take-down of Jordan Belfont in Forbes from 1991. This profile was from before any dodgy dealings were proven, or any charges were brought, or , but interestingly the writer described Belfont as a “twisted Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives it to himself and his marry band of brokers.”

And finally, onto the only Oscar nominee I’ve actually seen (blame wanting to spend my evenings playing with the kitten!) – Dallas Buyers Club. This profile of Ron Woodroof appeared in Dallas Life Magazine in August 1992, shortly before he succumbed to his illness in September of that year.

If you want more information about what is fact and what is fiction in each of these films, Slate run a series which breaks down the accuracy of each of the Oscar-nominated films. The article on Dallas Buyers Club is here.

Today’s quote is from Mark Twain.

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