Truth stranger than fiction

It seems to me that many of the events of last year would have been rejected as a scenario for a film if they had been put forward the year before.

With hindsight we know that Britain would vote to leave the European Union in the so-called “Brexit” and that Donald Trump (yes Donald Trump!!) would become the 45th President of the United States.

In the last two days I have watched a film called “The Primary Instinct” which was made in 2015. The film is a one-man show, really a long ambling true set of stories taken from the life of the protagonist, Stephen Tobolowsky.

Tobolowsky is a veteran character actor who freely admits to having appeared in about a quarter of all films made in Hollywood over the last forty years (or at least he says  it feels like that). He is also a great storyteller. The important point though is that all his stories are true, always based upon events in his life. He lives by the maxim “truth trumps fiction”.

The joy of Tobolowsky is that he is able to ramble down what look to all the world like blind alleys and then hit you with a powerful point that has been made by the story. It is homespun philosophy that can make you cry. He talks about his father’s blindness and his mother’s Alzheimer’s. He tells you about an incident that happened as a child that would have a powerful implication to an event that happened much later in his life. He talks about his mother attending his Hollywood house in the midst of a drunken, drug taking near orgy and making a point that put all of the events into perspective.

Like all great storytelling it takes you on a journey and you feel compelled to follow it until the end.

It made me wonder though at the power of truth over fiction. As I said at the beginning of this post, who would have believed the events of 2016 if it would have been written down in 2015? Here’s another one for you. I am sitting in a room in Los Angeles in late 2000 at a large film studio. A writer comes in with a scenario for a film.

The film is about a group of fanatical Moslem extremists who would hijack planes and fly them into the famous twin towers of the World Trade Building in New York and also attempt to crash into the Pentagon in Washington.

The long suffering script reader would have a short answer…. I don’t need to tell you what that would have been.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. We live in very strange and frightening times. I cannot really conceive of where we are heading but past experience tells me that whatever I forecast will be miles away from what transpires!

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