Can you ever truly tell the real story, the truth, in a totally unbiased way? That is the basis of the new film aptly called Truth which attempts to tell the backstory of the 2004 CBS 60 minutes episode examining the truth of the then incumbent President George W Bush’s military service and the storm and repercussions of a less than thorough research by the production team led by Mary Mapes. At the end of this 2 hours 5 mins film the only thing you realise is the truth is which ever line of the divide you stand on.
Truth is written and directed by James Vanderbilt based on the book by Mary Mapes. She is played in this film by Cate Blanchett and veteran CBS newscaster Dan Rather by Robert Redford. In her investigation of then President George Bush’s military record as he sought re-election she’s supported by her a motley production crew of Mike Smith (Topher Grace), Lt Colonel Roger Charles (Dennis Quaid) and Lucy Scott (Elisabeth Moss).
Here’s the truth this is a biopic focusing on Mary Mapes’s treatment by CBS with a screenplay based on a book she wrote about the whole incident. This is her truth and so in watching it you are watching her interpretation of the whole situation. Setting aside the rife sexism that was awash in news reporting at the time and her stellar work in highlighting the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. What is evident from the start was she wanted to get to the truth of George Bush’s military career as a pilot and it was somewhat of a crusade, unfinished business, if you will. In the film, Lt Col Roger Charles says to Lucy Scott that Mary had intended to produce this very story when George Bush first sought election to President of U.S.A but her mother died and so abandoned everything. Was the investigation rushed? Is the truth that Mary rushed into getting the story out without ensuring everything had been investigated: possibly. Was she scapegoated by CBS after questions started to be asked- definitely. Is the truth that news outlets focus has shifted from news and investigative journalism to ensuring they are a profitable business model and will pander to whoever is paying them the most – definitely. What is sure in calling this film Truth is setting it up for a fall that no stellar cast can save it from. Cate Blanchett comes at it with a fiery passion but in truth unless you know the whole story it is just someone’s version of events. I was left feeling that the truth will never come out and news outlets care less about telling even one jot of truth if it means it affects their bottom-line and that is a very depressing idea.
Truth was released in cinemas on 4 March.
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