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Real Story Of...

The Social Network

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Goodfellas

Martin Scorsese’s film about the New York mafia is considered one of the greatest gangster movies of all time. It is based on a book by Nicholas Pileggi, called Wiseguy. Based on the life story of Henry Hill it features the Lufthansa heist at JFK where $6 million in cash and jewellery was stolen in 1978. The movie claims that Hill went clean from 1987, after having his identity changed as part of the witness protection programme. But he didn’t – as he was arrested for narcotics offences right up to his death in 2012. However he had a parallel career as chef and a cookbook writer and was a regular guest on the Howard Stern show.

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Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge is an unusual film about the Battle of Okinawa, unusual because it is the story of a pacifist and his role in the battle. Desmond Doss was a Seventh day Adventist who refused to carry arms. For his actions in the battle he became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor – for saving 75 men when his unit was over run on Hacksaw Ridge on Okinawa. It was difficult to get the film financed as it is not about a normal combatant. Doss refused to carry a firearm of any kind, the film says because he once had to threaten his drunken father with one, but it seems more likely that this was simply because of his strongly held pacifist beliefs. What the film does not go into is how badly injured Doss was after his experiences in the Second World War. He was wounded four times in Okinawa – and later contracted tuberculosis in Leyte. His treatment for TB involved him losing a lung and five ribs. He also became completely deaf after treatment with antibiotics. Despite this he lived until he was eighty seven and raised a family.

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Patriot’s Day

The film is an account of the terrorist attack, on Patriots Day 2013, on the Boston Marathon perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers. It shows the carnage, especially the young couple who both had to have limbs amputated, how the bombers were identified and the bloody shoot out between the police and Tamerian Tsarnaev. The film implies that the brothers attacked the marathon out of the blue, having been radicalised. However the real story is that they had been suspected of criminal offences and radicalisation for years. The Russian government warned the US about the family’s behaviour on two occasions. Tamerlan remains connected to a triple homicide in Massachusetts in 2011. So what did the security services really know?

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The Social Network

The 2010 film, The Social Network, is the story of Facebook. Aaron Sorkin, the script writer, did most of his own research and a lot of people were interviewed by him on condition of anonymity. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, said the only accurate thing in the film was his wardrobe; ‘every shirt or fleece in the movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own.’ The rest, he said, was fabrication. Was it?

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Zero Dark Thirty

The 2012 film directed by Kathryn Bigelow about the killing of Osama bin Laden. Various critical elements in the film were later disputed; like the effectiveness of the water boarding and the use of classified information, and also the way in which Osama bin Laden was killed. The CIA agent, Maya, is made up – although it is true that most of the team hunting bin Laden were women. There is also a controversy about how bin Laden was found. The film says it was by tracing a courier – but journalist Seymour Hersch says that it was because there was a tip off from a Pakistani intelligence officer. No DNA from bin Laden, nor photos of him dead, have ever been released. Some reports say that half his skull was blown off. Again this was neither in the official version nor the movie.

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Zodiac

Zodiac is a 2007 film about the Zodiac series killings in San Francisco in 1969. They remain unsolved. The film follows the real life research of cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who became obsessed with the murderer, as he could decode some of his letters. Graysmith became convinced that the murderer was Arthur Leigh Allen. However the evidence against him was inconclusive. The final letter form Zodiac was sent in 1974. There have been no more Zodiac killings. Robert Graysmith stopped being a cartoonist and became a successful crime writer. So who was Zodiac? This film looks at the mystery.