Thursday, January 25, 2018

Darkest Hour —truth or fiction?

I don't watch a lot of movies, so when I do, it's a memorable experience.  I recently viewed the movie Darkest Hour featuring Gary Oldman, as Winston Churchill. I've been immersed in everything related to the Second World War for a while now, as I try and reimagine my family’s past. Most of my recent immersion has been looking at the German point of view, (after all, I've gone through an education system with the Allied's point of view).  Don't get me wrong...I understand that Hitler's vision was toxic. The Nazis were evil. The more I learn about them, the more they disgust me. . . the more I want to understand how ordinary people could buy into their vision.

File:Churchill V sign HU 55521.jpg
Wikipedia
Spring, 1940, was a pivotal time for both Hitler and the rest of the world. Will the English surrender…like the Austrians or the Czechs before them? Or will they be crushed as easily as the Poles?  At what cost?  

One engaging scene in the movie occurs when Churchill's secretary reveals she hasn't heard from her brother who's stuck in Dunkirk.  Another emotional scene is, of course, the one everyone mentions—the subway scene. Here, Churchill rides the Tube and engages in conversation with ordinary citizens. The scene is heartwarming and gushingly patriotic . . ..   It also never happened.

As someone who writes historical fiction I understand the issues of ‘based on’ and ‘inspired by.’ That scene on the subway is obviously true to the latter. It is ‘inspired by’ Churchill’s effort to hear the average Londoner’s voice. But it is not ‘based on’ an actual event. Such is fiction. You dig between the facts and create a story that will engage and entertain. Truth is somewhere between the lines or the scenes. 

There are people who will only read non-fiction or who will only watch documentaries. They think that truth can only be achieved through hard fact. Truth is not that simple.  Even a photograph can lie. Diaries, memoirs and autobiographies can’t be trusted either. Truth is not limited to facts. Facts do not always reflect truth. All we can do is read, watch or listen with an open mind.  And what is an open mind, you ask? Ah. Maybe it’s a mind that questions, that doesn’t judge, and that’s flexible. That would work, for starters.

That's why i just love the story about the seven blind mice. Each mouse only experiences a part of the unknown, but together they piece the mystery together. 

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