When should movies be made about painful subjects such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks or real-life serial killers and when, if at all, should they be too taboo for cellulite? In Susan Sarandon’s latest film, she plays a nurse named Helen who struggles to try and get the U.S. government to pressure ISIS to free her son, a freelance journalist who was captured by the terrorist organization.
The film called Viper Club is remarkably similar to Diane Foley’s real life story who fought to get her son, James Foley, freed. James Foley was as abducted while reporting in Syria in 2012 by ISIS and was eventually brutally murdered. The killing was filmed in graphic detail and released on social media
Viper Club premiered in Toronto Film Festival and will be in theatres, but will also be one of the first YouTube Original titles to be premiered on their streaming service.
Diane Foley is incredibly upset about the film which makes her relive the atrocity, “almost to the tiniest detail,” Foley said. However, Foley acknowledges there were some discrepancies and embellishments to her story.
The film begs the question what morality obligation do filmmakers have to tell true stories – if at all? Also how long should we wait before dealing with the subject matter? There is no doubt the Holocaust, slavery and even World War 2 are difficult subjects to deal with but most people will agree that enough time has past, the wounds have healed sufficiently enough that there isn’t the rawness associated with more recent traumatic events like the fight against terrorism. How do filmmakers decide if it’s an important story to tell and does that outweigh the personal cost of the people involved in the true story?
Recently Clint Eastwood went even further with his film about a gunman on a French train. The men, two of which were from the US military, trained in combat and first aid, were on a backpacking European tour when a gunman armed with a AK-47 attempted to commit mass murder. The three men probably saved dozens of lives.
Eastwood decided to use the three real friends in his movie. The result, according to some viewers is a cross between a documentary and a realistic grit. The effect of realness in this film is a strange one. Does this sort of distorted realism make it easier or harder on those involved in the incident? And what effect does this type of storytelling have on the collective movie going conscious?
When the Twin Towers went down dozens of film projects were cancelled or postponed. Some people even blamed Hollywood for inspiring the 9/11 terrorists as it has also been blamed for inspiring serial killers and other atrocious acts before.
However, as a society, we need films about terrorism and serial murders to heal. After 9/11 movies like Die Hard and True Lies were rented three times more frequently than before. These types of films boost patriotism and a general sense of a common purpose, uniting us against evil acts – whether it’s a murder, a rape, or war.
While most people don’t enjoy their personal stories – people like Diane Foley – being splashed across the big screen, sometimes it’s necessary for the collective good. It helps us heal and helps us understand a little bit more about the darker parts of the world around us.
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