Movies Are Bullshit.
There is only one rule of screenwriting (or filmmaking for that matter). Don’t be boring. Adaptations owe nothing to the source material. Historical dramas owe nothing to the truth (and I’m talking “truth” with a little “t,”—in other words, what happens to have happened). No one bitches about all the facts William Shakespeare ignored or altered to suit telling a great story. Why? Because the purpose of drama is to entertain and illustrate universal truths. It is emphatically not to educate. It is thus an extremely good idea not to go to the movies with the expectation of an education. To do otherwise is an exercise in futility. To express outrage when said expectation is not met constitutes playing a game transactional psychologists fondly refer to as, “I’ve got you now, you son of a bitch.” It is a self-defeating behavior which generally results in hurt feelings and long-winded blogs lambasting films for their inaccuracies. If you want facts, either watch a documentary or read a historical document—you know, something with footnotes and a bibliography, written by a person or persons with a bunch of letters after their names. No matter what it’s based upon, a drama is a piece of fiction. Now, it is fair to argue that a more accurate rendering of the source material would have made for a better story. However, to criticize a film solely on the grounds of inaccuracy suggests less about the shortcomings of the film than it does a fundamental confusion about the nature and function of drama on the part of the viewer.