Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Based On a True Story

It's been my experience that there are several indicators of an impending tall tale, which is based in little, if any, fact. Instead, the product will be based almost entirely on the imagination of the teller.

One sure sign is a Sailor opening a story with "This is no shit...". I also have it on good faith from Gordon that this applies when an Airmen begins with "There I was...".

In my humble opinion, another clear warning of malarkey on the horizon are the words "Based Upon a True Story" appearing in the opening credits of a Hollywood product. Too often, the movie is then presumed to be "fact", which can result in some unfortunate opinions developing. This is often true of movies which depict the Armed Services of the United States in an unfavorable light. There are factions in Hollywood who view the military as little more than the imperialistic arm of our government, populated with unthinking, uncaring goons. They will leap at any money making opportunity to discredit us.

My last post mentioned the deactivation of the cavalry. This resulted in a couple comments evoking the movie "In Pursuit of Honor". The gist of the movie is that in 1934 the cavalry is becoming mechanized, and the cavalry units have been ordered to destroy there horses. A small band of soldiers rebels against this orders, driving a of remount horses to safety in Canada.

While long on story, it would appear that the movie is extremely short on facts. I found a host of information online that repudiates the story. The best researched example I came across is In Defense of Honor: General Douglas MacArthur and the Horse Cavalry of 1934, by Bob Seals.

Cavalrymen had a very special relationship with their horses, and I find it unbelievable that these soldiers would have ordered or participated in the massacre of their trusted steeds. The horses were considered to be soldiers every bit as much as their human counterparts, even having their own unique rank structure. I have read accounts of soldiers of the First World War who were as distraught over the death of horse or mule as they were over the death of a human comrade.

To further understand the relationships with these horses, read the story of Chief, the horse considered to be the U.S. Army's last mount. Or perhaps this account of the deactivation of a mounted cavalry unit in 1932 at Fort D.A. Russell in Texas.

I'm not able to buy into Hollywood's version of a true story.


roughneckturtle/Jeff C. said...

Yes, I agree. Most "Based on a true story" movies, are of little use as a history lesson. From what I've seen, Based on a true story means - I heard this story, and if we change this and add that... and in the end about the only true part of it is that something happened in the universe.

Thanks for the story, and keeping it straight.

Kate said...

I don't buy into anything Hollyweird! Have a great Veteran's Day.

Rebecca said...

I have told a couple of those, "So there I was..." stories :)

Hope you get to relax this Veteran's Day!

Andy said...

BR, I tend to believe that the story was greatly exaggerated. I got to know an old rancher in Colorado who was in the mule corps as a young man during WWII. A perfect fit for a country boy, btw.

He didn't talk much about the war, but I remember him once specifically mentioning the affection of the soldier, and the respect given the animals.

Pal, have a fabulous day! Thank you for your service to our nation. I mean it.

Buck said...

Thanks for setting the story straight. And I agree... "based on a true story" most often gets it terribly wrong.

So. There I was... ;-)