Sunday, February 10


The King of Kong, a delightful little documentary about obsession and cliquishness in the cutthroat world of competitive gaming. I found it gripping and often hilarious when I watched it a couple weeks back but never once did I think it a paragon of objective documentary filmmaking. The Good vs. Evil, knock-down-drag-out drama that unfolds does wonders for the entertainment value, thus I was not complaining. But Billy Mitchell, the fellow who takes the form of evil in this picture, is.

Interesting dilemma, that. Walking the line between portraying those your documenting in the most accurate light and telling the most engaging tale. We are talking here about a cinematic tradition with a troubled lineage that includes the staged depictions of Inuit life in Nanook of the North, the propaganda films of Leni Riefenstahl, and, far more recently, the less than objective ouvre of Michael Moore. Ubergeek Billy Mitchell is hardly the first whose life has been manipulated on the big screen.

This question about the betrayal of reality in favor of telling the story one has their heart set on has got me thinking, fittingly enough, about the world of fiction. Specifically the untrustworthy narrator. Twain's young narrators Huck and Tom, The Sound and the Fury's mentally retarded Benjy and Nick Carraway of The Great Gatsby come to mind. What others can we come up with?

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