Aaron Sorkin's new film, Netflix's Trial of the Chicago 7 is getting stellar reviews from critics. In a year that has been lacking in movies of any kind, it's nice to see one that is getting so warmly received by so many. However, one question that always needs to be answered regarding any movie about real-life events, is just how realistic is it? Richard Schultz was one of the actual prosecutors of the case depicted in the new film, and while he adds himself to the crowd that has a positive view of the film as an artistic endeavor, he's not nearly as embracing of the reality that the movie depicts.
I thought the acting was very good. Nothing was close to the trial. The movie was fun to watch---it's just a fantasy, that's all.
So enjoy The Trial of the Chicago 7 as the entertaining film that it is, but don't accept it as historically accurate, because at least when it comes to the events that take place in the courtroom it is not.
This isn't exactly a shock. Few if any movies based on true stories are actually 100% accurate when it comes to the events depicted. There are always going to be changes made if for no other reason than the fact that real-life rarely falls into a clean three-act structure. And this is especially true for movies that take place in courtrooms. Tense and dramatic courtroom scenes are a staple of movies and television, but most actual trials are pretty dull and aren't quite as emotional as they seem to always get on film.
It's important to be aware of how a movie based on real events is different from those events, but certainly not being historically accurate shouldn't be a prerequisite for such a film to be considered good. In the end, making a good movie is about making the movie good, and as long as that movie's changes to the historical record don't fly directly in the face of the real events, and keep the ultimate spirit of the true story intact, changes are fine.
And even Robert Schultz, a man who lived through the real-life trial, and thus knows just how far from the truth the movie actually is, still seemingly enjoyed the movie and thought the performances within it were great. And if he's not too upset by the changes, the rest of us will probably be just fine.