In an era of frankness (well not in the political arena or in our “civic” lives, but certainly in films), why do so many bio-pics present such a bowdlerized view of their subjects? Sanitizing and censoring the lives that the persons of interest led seems an unpardonable treatment.
It may be possible to excuse Hollywood for masking Lorenz Hart’s sexual inclinations in the 1948 film, Words and Music. But the times they are a-changin’ as Bob Dylan would put it. Shouldn’t we be more forthright about who Cole Porter really was in De-Lovely than we were in 1946 in Night and Day? The Kevin Klein version from 2004 hints only slightly at the double life Porter had.
The facts of a person’s life may not be as straightforward or as simply depicted as we’d like to think. Allowing for artistic license and interpretation as well as for the p.o.v. of the auteur, the life on the screen cannot replicate the life as it was lived.
The movie about Sylvia Plath’s relationship with Ted Hughes, Sylvia (2003) is based on a collection of his poems. To the survivor belongs the turn of the tale. Even the esteemable Richard Attenborough while harnessing the talents of the superb Robert Downey, Jr. misses the mark in revealing Chaplin to his audience. While I will confess to having it liked it, I agree that the movie underplays the dramas inherent in Charlie Chaplin’s rich and controversial life.