Tag Archives: Fiction

“Based on a True Story”: An Approach to Reading the Scriptures

by Rev. Dr. Cristofor Panaitescu

A film inspired by a true story often has a good chance of receiving positive reviews and winning viewers’ hearts—along with high profits. But a film based on a true story often also engenders a great deal of controversy. There are the connotations of the term true that are at stake. What does it mean to tell a true story? Is it about achieving complete historical accuracy, or it is about conveying a message the truth of which is tied to historical events?

In a film based on a true story, the primary message is about a happening: something or someone happened at some point in history and left a traceable mark that’s worth telling about. The film uses fiction to deliver this message. In this case, fiction is neither lying nor denying the truth. Using the power of imagination, fiction creates infinite options for grasping the message conveyed by historical figures and events. It involves imagination about the possible meanings and the outcomes of that happening, not about the historical facts themselves; it is imagination in the sense of exploring possibilities, not in the sense of inventing realities. It is imagination in the sense that all viewers can find themselves in the story, can become the heroes they want to be. It is the kind of imagination proposed by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in The Little Prince, or by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “I have a Dream” speech, or by John Lennon in his song Imagine.

What if the Bible were “viewed” as a film based on a true story?

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