Benedict Cumberbatch, left, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in a scene from '12 Years A Slave,' which is based on a true story and unlikely to match the real-life events at every turn. (Jaap Buitendijk / AP / Fox Searchlight)
News flash: Movies do not depict reality.
Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t, and they don’t really want to. Movies offer heightened and condensed interpretations of reality built around necessarily dramatic turns.
They don’t, can’t offer absolute accuracy. Absolute accuracy is mostly boring and takes way too long. Anyway, who wants to follow some historical figure into the bathroom? Movies take the big moments and leave the mundane behind.
I point this out because of the great space diaper controversy of 2013.
That was launched when a scientist pointed out that when Sandra Bullock slips out of her space suit in the hit movie “Gravity” she’s not wearing an adult diaper, which is apparently a required fashion accessory when astronauting.
Well, that just ruins the whole film, doesn’t it?
Of course it doesn’t.
In truth, a space diaper would have been a clumsy distraction , pulling the audience away from the moment’s magic.
The great space diaper controversy of 2013 is particularly relevantbecause we are about to see (and have recently seen) a great many films based on true stories released, and many of these movies will be the year’s big awards contenders.
We’ve already had “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “Fruitvale Station.” This weekend brings “Captain Phillips.” In the next few weeks we’ll see “12 Years a Slave,” “The Fifth Estate” and “Dallas Buyers Club.” Come December there will be “Monuments Men” and “American Hustle.”
All of these movies are based on real people and real situations. And all of them inevitably contain inaccuracies, omissions and bias.
Chances are they will all leave out potential space diapers. Good for them. Because it’s good for us. Such streamlining allows for better drama.
Claims of inaccuracy dogged last year’s big players, “Lincoln” and “Argo.” Both earned well over $100 million at the box office and “Argo” ended up winning the best picture Oscar.
Look, if someone makes a movie in which Adolf Hitler is the first man to land on the moon and says it’s based on a true story, audiences (not to mention studios) simply won’t buy it. But stretching the truth for dramatic effect is a theatrical tradition that dates back centuries.
If you want history, read history books. Movies are entertainment, art, interpretation.
If you go to the movies wanting space diapers ... well, dude, you’ve got a problem.