No one should be too surprised that Hollywood has now cashed in on the Oscar Pistorius story. The cynical may say it’s a miracle it’s even taken this long. After all, there have already been five Sharknado movies, and one Sharknado spin-off movie. Compared to sharks flying around in tornadoes and viciously killing people on dry land, any story about the Oscar-Reeva tragedy must seem like fine dramatic art.
Based on the trailer, though, I’m sure the ridiculously titled Oscar: Blade Runner Killer will be anything but. Hammy acting from no-name-brand Americans trying to portray South Africans will probably be one of the less irritating features of this obviously annoying feature.
Both Reeva Steenkamp’s family and the Pistoriuses have expressed their horror at the biopic – which neither family has apparently seen, never mind endorsed.
Now there’s no law against making movies about actual people, and you certainly don’t need permission from any living person to write a book about their life or make a movie about them. No one “owns” their own story. If someone were to come along to write a biography about you based on a few things you may have told them, then – unless you have a contract in place clarifying what happens with the royalties – there’s no reason for you to be entitled to a cent.
So the fact that Oscar’s family have declared their intention to sue the filmmakers has little to do with rights infringement – they simply see the film as slanderous for claiming that Oscar has the “mind of a killer”.
Presumably basing his anger on what he saw in the trailer, Oscar’s brother Carl has called the film a “gross distortion of the findings of the court” – because the army of psychologists who assessed Oscar apparently at no point concluded that the one-time Paralympian has the “mind of a killer”.
Carl further slammed the film for apparently portraying only the version of events that were presented by the prosecution in court.
I don’t want to start making bets about how this legal case will go (if it ever goes at all), but I can hazard a guess that the Pistorius family’s lawyers will have their work cut out for them.
Saying that Oscar has the “mind of a killer” is certainly not flattering, but the only way it could be considered legally slanderous is if it isn’t true. But it is. He has a mind. And he is a killer. Ergo, he has the mind of a killer, whatever that even is.
According to the High Court in Pretoria and the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, he is not only a killer, but a murderer. So you could therefore equally infer – with sound legal backing – that he also has the heart of a killer, the liver of a killer and the small intestine of a killer. Whatever part of him you may wish to name belongs to a killer, because Oscar is a killer according to a legal finding that isn’t being challenged.
The only way for him to therefore legally not have the mind of a killer would be if he lost his mind. He’ll probably never lose the label of being a murderer.
None of this means I like the idea of this cheesy movie any more than Carl Pistorius does.
The film will – probably – turn out to be something of a missed opportunity, if you think about it, because with a bit more thought it may have been possible to make a film about Oscar and Reeva’s terrible story that was, at the very least, a little more thoughtful and classy. A filmmaker with half an ounce of integrity would never have “decided” on what “really” must have happened inside Oscar’s house on that fateful Valentine’s night in 2013. Because the reality is no one will ever know for sure. The only witnesses to the events were Oscar and Reeva, and only Oscar is still around to talk about it.
Had they wanted to make a film that was “truer” to life, they would merely have shown the outside of Oscar’s house as the bullets were fired and then, perhaps, later re-enacted the various versions of what may have happened that night (without underwriting any version as “the truth”). Interestingly, we could then have seen that even Oscar himself had various versions of his own story, each subtly different.
Maybe that is exactly how they have made the film (much as I doubt it). I may still end up forcing myself to watch it to find out (though I doubt that even more).
The film could possibly leave audiences a little more informed about whatever facts have been available, and then allow each of us to make up our own minds about what version of events we like most.
Sadly, though, if indeed it does only portray one version of events, as Carl Pistorius alleges, then it will be a folly right up there with flying sharks in tornados.
Take a look at the trailer below if you haven’t had the misfortune of witnessing it yet.