by Jennifer AlLee
We've all seen books and movies that are "based on a true story." If you're like me, you can't help but wonder just how much artistic license was taken with the actual story... How much of it is fact, and how much is fiction?
Matt Damon is great as Benjamin, and Scarlett Johannson turns in a wonderfully unglamorous performance as the head zookeeper. The possibility of romance is aluded to, but never stated outright. I figured this was the part where fact and fiction parted ways, because someone some where decided the story would be better with a little romantic spark in it.
At the end of the film is your basic wrap-up paragraph, which says something like this: "Benjamin Mee continues to live at and run the Zoological Park with his children, Ella and Milo."
Ella and Milo? Why did they change the children's names for the movie? When I saw that, I had to dig a bit deeper. And I found that when they said "based on a true story" they weren't exagerating.
In the movie, the zoo is Rosemoor Animal Park, located in California. In real life, Benjamin Mee owns the Dartmoor Zoological Park in southwest Englad. In the movie, Benjamin buys the house and the zoo it sits within because he wants a fresh start with his kids. In real life, Benjamin was already in the process of buying the zoo before his wife died. And, just as I suspected, there was no mention in Mr. Mee's book of a zookeeper who looked or acted like Scarlett Johannson.
None of that detracted from the movie for me. But I find it interesting what things movie makers decide need to be embelished. It's like when a man comes home from a fishing trip and starts talking about the one that got away. Before you know it, that fish has grown from a guppy into a swordfish.
How about you? When was the last time you watched a movie and found out later how little of it really was like the true life story that inspired it?
JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her novels include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, 11/07), The Pastor’s Wife (Abingdon Press, 2/10), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, 4/12) and the upcoming A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (Abingdon Press, 11/12). She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.