Let's get a grip here, guys. Four days at boot camp, or lounging in your trailer between takes, does not a soldier make.
Everyone associated with Pearl Harbor appears to take his or her 15 minutes of fame very seriously. Costume designer Michael Kaplan, for instance, prattles on about what a nightmare it was to outfit contemporary women in the vintage clothing worn by the petite women of the 1940s. And yet it doesn't seem to occur to anyone involved that their well-compensated, digitally enhanced work has nowhere near the importance of December 7, 1941, or that that date would have continued to live in infamy even without their little show.
When extras are used to tell about the dramatic struggle to create a great film, as with Brazil and The Godfather, they're more than worth the price of admission. But when they dramatize the factory-efficient production of yet another Hollywood blockbuster -and allow the workers to inflate themselves to heroic proportions at the expense of true heroes -you can't help but wonder if something hasn't gone seriously wrong.
The biggest problem with watching creative types succumb to their own delusions is that you run the risk of getting sucked in, too. Just as watching reality TV can become an excuse for not having a real life, watching far-from-authentic "historical" movies - and extras about those movies - can become a way of vicariously participating in an event without ever getting your hands dirty.
So here's to extras - at least to the ones in the service of entertainment, not fabricating armchair heroes.
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