Having just completed my second viewing of the very bizarre movie "The Aviator," three things come to mind: Leonardo DiCaprio should have an Oscar by now, Martin Scorcese is one of my favorite directors and I really want to research the life of Howard Hughes.
Perhaps not as much anymore, Hollywood used to be known for grand, sweeping historical epics. History became larger than life as studios took on periods such as ancient Rome, wars and the Old West. The "larger than life" aspect suggests that Hollywood's rendition of history tends to be a tad blown out of proportion. Not to say this is a no-no for Hollywood, because it's not any big secret that entertainment is (at least used to be) about spectacle.
Some movies will take on a single character and chart his life, or a good chunk of it, like "Citizen Kane" or "Ben-Hur." Granted, a great deal of the stories Hollywood takes on *are* extraordinary, or they wouldn't be worth immortalizing in movies (probably another idea that's more typical of older Hollywood).
Regardless of how accurate historical period movies or "based-on-true-events" movies are, they get me curious, and that seems to be a good thing, even if it took a fact-slaughtering to get me there.
What I'm getting at with all this is that watching "The Aviator" fascinated me with the life of Hughes. Whether it was true or not, I want to find out. If half of what was in that movie is true, that man was a piece of work. I know the achievements really happened, but the personal stuff? The movie depicted him as everything from brilliant, hot-headed, and womanizing to OCD (emphasis on obsessive), paranoid and just plain nuts. A series of emotionally cringe-worthy scenes in the movie have him locked in his own movie theater, stark naked (after burning his own clothes), repeating the same phrases over and over again, counting how many times he says them, and urinating in hundreds of milk jars, lined up along the edges of the room. Wahee.
I want to know how much of that is true. And how that sort of thing happens to people. Nowadays, there's a medical diagnosis if a kid sucks his thumb too long. Back then, he was screwed. It makes me wonder not only how he got so low (if he indeed did) but also how people survived mental illnesses before they were recognized. It must've literally been like being trapped in your hell.
The worlds of psychology and psychiatry are deep, dark pits that I'm only willing to go so far into, but they are fascinating. The movie reminded me a bit of "A Beautiful Mind." These types of character studies show you sides of people you may have been aware of, but hopefully also point you towards understanding them, or at least a better understanding of their unseen struggle.
Why is seeing that they struggled a good thing? I suppose it provides more appreciation for their accomplishments, but it also brings them down to earth. It turns them from a that larger-than-life persona into a flawed human being. I suppose oftentimes movies will show both.
Anyway, now...time to google!