At what point can you make up facts in a movie about real events, the actual facts of which are well-known and within living memory?
The film plays fast and loose with the widely-known facts, which totally threw my suspension of disbelief – especially for me as one of the central threads holding the plot together is the ‘love affair’ between Reggie Kray and his eventual wife Frances.
For a description of the actual killing of Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie (I presume based on the court case evidence but which strangely omits the mis-firing gun) you could read the Daily Telegraph’s August 2000 piece.
And for details of police corruption and Ronnie Kray’s psychopathy, you might read my blog of October 2013.
The Krays were arrested in 1968 and imprisoned in 1969 – so they were active roughly 50 years ago.
Billy The Kid (a criminal murderer, now an outlaw hero) was killed in 1881 and the first major film made about him was in 1930 – 50 years after his death. Presumably the facts were embroidered.
Jesse James (a criminal murderer, now an outlaw hero) was killed in 1882. In 1921, two movies were made with Jesse James Jnr playing his father; but the first major film about his life was in 1939 – almost 60 years after the events. Presumably the facts were embroidered.
The events depicted in Legend are within living memory – I am old enough to remember the shooting in the Blind Beggar being reported on BBC TV News. So it is very dodgy to change facts – even though filmgoers in the US are unlikely to have heard of The Krays. So I do not know the answer.
At what point does embroidering the facts of real events within living memory totally screw belief in a movie? And at what point in time does it not matter?
At what point does the legend take over and the facts become irrelevant?
There is that well-known 19th century newspaper saying: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”.
Except, of course, it is not a real saying. It was something scripted in the 1962 movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and now people think it is some real saying from way way back.
There is a famous TV interview with the Kray Twins which is on YouTube.