The movies love a mystery, especially one based on historical fact as it affords Hollywood the opportunity to do something which it prides itself on doing better than any omnipotent deity: improving on real life. This unnatural (and unwarranted) self-confidence in its own ability to transcend reality is the stuff of self-perpetuated legend and therefore has fed into the myth of Hollywood as the earthly dream factory. However, just as Hollywood studios alter and heighten reality to fit its own artificial view of the world as a puppeteer’s stage solely designed for its own brand of cynical humor and three-hanky melodrama, it also encourages a recipe for disaster when this uncontrolled creative hubris is allowed to overstep common sense in the long and laborious process of film production, leading to greater waste, production confusion and eventual paralysis of the imagination. Hollywood history is replete with examples of good intention run horribly awry both creatively and economically, resulting in ruinous failure both artistically and financially. Such an example is Robert Wise’s 1975 film “The Hindenburg”, with which the veteran director seems to have forgotten all he ever knew (which was considerable) about the rudimentary aspects of narrative filmmaking, such as tension, pacing and effective framing to emphasize scene drama and performance (not to mention to disguise deficiencies).
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