Skip to comments.The Real Million Dollar Baby: Courage and the Sanctity of Life
Posted on 03/10/2005 1:59:03 PM PST by Mr. Silverback
The story is, by now, a familiar one: A female boxer from Missouri takes a terrible beating in the ring and winds up brain-damaged. Shes initially suicidal, but with the help of family and friends, she rallies, takes up painting, and speaks out about her life and the value of all life.
Wait a minute, you say: Thats not how Million Dollar Baby ends. In the Academy Award-winning film, the injured boxer begs her coach to kill her because she cant face life as a quadriplegic, and he complies. But a real-life boxer, whose life story likely inspired the film, says the ending is bunk.
Like the boxer in Million Dollar Baby, Katie Dallam was a Missouri girl who grew up in poverty. In 1996, Katie began boxing. After just two months of training, her trainer urged her into a professional match and Katie stepped into the ring with a far more experienced boxer. By the end of four two-minute rounds, the referee stopped the fight, but it was too late. Katie had received 150 blows to the head and was comatose by the time she reached a hospital. Doctors told Katies sister that she probably wouldnt make it, and, if she did, would most likely be a vegetable.
But Katie survived. She had to relearn how to walk and read. And her injuries affected her vision and memory. Deeply depressed, she attempted suicide. But instead of helping her sister kill herself, her sister, Stephanie, moved Katie into her home.
Unable to go back to her counseling job, Katie took up an earlier interest and began painting again.
Seeing Million Dollar Baby gave Katie nightmares. But it also led to her decision to talk with others about life after a devastating brain injury. As Katie told the New York Times, the fictional coach in Million Dollar Baby took the easy way out by killing [the boxer] rather than having to deal with what her life would have been like.
Katies sister, Stephanie, is convinced the film writer, F. X. Toole, now deceased, based the film on Katie. Too many similarities, she says. So Katie wants to set the record straight. People, you see, can live on after terrible injuries and live rich, productive livespeople like Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic who suffered a spinal-cord injury, who also paints and has a wonderful ministry.
As Joni and Friends journalist Sanda Allyson writes, In the face of devastating injury, many people feel they want to die. But they move from depression and feeling that there is nothing for them into a new hope and even joy.
We can have peace and happiness, she writes, in the midst of situations that might have previously been thought of as unendurable. That is just one reason why virtually all disability advocacy groups . . . are so vehemently opposed to this idea of helping someone die, which may sound warm and fuzzy, but in the searing light of truth, is just murder.
So tell your neighbors that the real-life story behind Million Dollar Baby that exposes the Hollywood fiction and its values for what they are: propaganda. We can live life to the fullest, even with great disabilities, if we dont fall for the secular siren song that says that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived.
The film Million Dollar Baby may have won Academy Awards, but the true-life story wins a much greater award for courage and human dignity.
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It's not PROPOGANDA...It's just a one story. ONE STORY.
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Interesting indeed! Not surprisingly, hollyweird twists the truth to fit their secularist liberal societal engineering agenda. Thanks to Colson, perhaps America will hear 'the rest of the story'.
Clint sure didn't make anyone's day, it would have been no different if had used his Magnum.
This is just awful!
I think the "rags to riches through sports" scenario that's so common in entertainment is also very deceptive. It's more dramatic than "Go back to school, earn degree, get job, work, enjoy average middle-class life" - but it certainly encourages unrealistic expectations.
Not 'Hollywood fiction' but prose short stories fiction that was adapted by a screenwriter.
There is some debate whether the movie was propaganda, a debate I'm neutral in. But if it's established that this screenplay was based on Katie Dallam, then in my mind there's no way it wasn't propaganda, because they took an inspirational and dramatic story and purposefully twisted it into a whole different animal.
It was based on short stories by F.X. Otoole written some years ago. He has since died. Sorry no 'Hollyweird consipacy' here.
The movie doesn't present the outcome as something positive or happy. Most of the people calling it depraved haven't seen it.
Rope Burns, F.X. O'Toole
Hardcover: 237 pages
Publisher: Ecco (HarperCollins); 1st ed edition (September 1, 2000)
2000 is "some years ago," true. But it's fewer years ago than the incident described by Charles Colson, so he could be correct that the actual events suggested the fiction plot.
Thanks for the reminder.
Could be. In the same way that the Chuck Wepner fight inspired Stallone's screenplay for Rocky. I was just refuting the tired 'Hollyweird conspiracy' drivel. Esepcially since no one wanted to make this movie and Eastwood had to get indie financing to get WB to chip in even a little.
"Conspiracy" is a pretty extreme claim. It's a dramatic story, obviously, and a well-made film, from what I understand. I will not see it, because I can't stand to watch boxing.
Clint Eastwood was looking like a death mask at the Oscars. I wonder if he's had a plastic surgery disaster, poor dear.
Sounds like you're purposely refuting some cliched complaint. But would you, or Clint more to the point, really have objected if the Academy had, for that night, created a brand new Joseph Goebbels Excellence in Film Awards, in honor of Goebbels' award winning film or films of the 1930s, and given the inaugural prize to Eastwood? There have to be remarkable parallels between Goebbels 'awfully moving' propaganda and that of Eastwood, in 2004/2005.
For the record, I didn't really like MDB and didn't think it was the best film of last year or even of the films that were nominated. But complaints against it should be made by people who have seen it towards it. Not by people who haven't seen it...towards all American film making. That's all I was objecting too.
No offense, but it's pretty clear you didn't read the whole article:
Katies sister, Stephanie, is convinced the film writer, F. X. Toole, now deceased, based the film on Katie. Too many similarities, she says.
We don't have enough evidence presented here to say whether her accusation is right or wrong, but we certainly don't have any evidence here that Toole couldn't have taken the story. Note that Katie's injuries occurred in 1996, and Rope Burns was published in '01.
Also, it should be noted that unless we're sure the original story had the euthanasia in it, it can hardly be said to be Toole's fault, and the euthanasia is not propaganda if he heard about Katie and wrote it during her depressed phase. Further investigation is warranted.
Some have argued that way. But having seen the film, I think it's pretty clear that the supposedly intelligent and sober character, unlike Freeman, unlike the 'priest', reluctantly agrees to the only 'humane' course open to him, against 'all of society's rule. The anti-hero is a villain, at last. But he is supposed to have behaved heroically. It's not presented as happy, but it is presented as positive, and even moral - that is, murder by adrenalin overdose shot, to a suicidal victim. The tragic hero killer disappears into the night, and we see an exterior shot of the 'pie-diner'. Is he there? Is he buried in the back? Who knows? Scene.
I mentioned the comparison of this film to one of Joe Goebbels from so long ago, which I have not seen but which has been mentioned in various FR threads. Goebbels may have been more candid about the purpose of his work - then again, maybe not. What did he say when he walked up on stage to get HIS 'oscar'? I want to thank the producers, and, tear in his eye, the great actress, etc?
Most of the people calling it depraved haven't seen it.
Where's your backup for this? And even if it's true, those who haven't seen it have made their conclusion based on opinions of trustworthy people who have seen it, like Mike Medved and Terri O'Brien.
The movie doesn't present the outcome as something positive or happy.
When have you ever seen Kate Michelman or Gloria Feldt on a talk show saying, "Isn't abortion just a wonderful, wonderful thing?" Only the most hamfisted treatment would try to present this as not only a right choice but a happy one. So, it may not be propaganda, but the fact that Clint's character doesn't do a jig over it means nothing.
Also, how do you reconcile "The movie doesn't present the outcome as something positive" with the Morgan Freeman letter to Eastwood's estranged daughter at the end?
Saying something fits the values they want to project is not the same as saying it was part of the vast Hollywood conspiracy.
I like Nick!
And they said that because people they trust did see the movie. "You didn't see the movie" is a specious argument.
The Freeman character may think what Eastwood did was noble but that doesn't make it so.
But you said the movie didn't put the euthansia in a positive light, and the last word is a character making a positive comment about it. Is the Freeman character portrayed in the rest of the movie as an immoral person?
It's just the idea of 'immoral art' and what that notion leads to that I dislike. You don't have to agree with the moral vision of a work of art to appreciate it.
As I pointed out to another MDB fan earlier in the thread, Uncle Tom's Cabin was a work of art, too. These things have implications. It's amazing to me when people talk about art but never consider how civilizations are shaped by their art and the stories they tell.
Look I really don't have an inclination to defend a movie I wasn't crazy about.
Then next time don't have an inclination to dismiss people who have formed a different opinion.
She could probably sue and get a bit of money out of them as well as an admission that her injuries were at least part of the inspiration behind the story.
I won't go so far as to compare Clint and Goebbels, but I will point this out: Goebbels made a propaganda film in the 30's that was designed to sell euthanasia to the German masses. One of the characters (whose death was more of an assisted suicide than euthanasia) was a bedridden woman who didn't feel her life was worth living.
Boy, that doesn't sound fmailiar at all...
You are bypassing my point. You said there was no "Hollywood conspiracy" because the screenplay was based on Toole's stories. Well, how does that mean that it isn't Katie's story? You have presented no evidence that it isn't.
If you put 5 marxists in a room and ask them to come up with a solution to a problem, you get a marxist solution. If you put 5 hollyweird liberals in a room and have them do a movie on euthanasia, you get a movie that praises euthanasia and is propaganda for euthanasia.
Black and white? That's precisely why Hollywood embraced it. If you ever watch the Nanny show, with Jo Frost, you'll see her technique involves creating rigor, schedules, certainty, sameness for little children. And they tend to respond well to such conformity. Well Hollywood is no different. They consistently promote the worst sort of vice. And they did not applaud THIS film because they thought it was a conservative non-conformist treatise. They embraced it as comfortably more of the same in a promotion, no doubt similar to that of Goebbels so long ago, for 'mercy' killing; which is uncharitable and not merciful. The characters who object in the film have no basis for it, or seem petulant. The 'logic' of the situation demands 'mercy', supposed mercy, as in 'mercy' killing. And the anti-hero dutifully does the anti-moral thing, seen as 'morality', and the villian is justified for having done the 'right thing' - i.e. he kills, he poisons, and then he runs away and dies or whatever as signified by the exterior shot of the 'pie-diner'. That's why the guy who originally wrote that column suggesting parallels to Goebbels' film seems to have really gotten the point of all this.
But that's just what I said. Why was Goebbels so well received - years before anyone suspected death camps and the like? Manipulation. Emotionalism. It was the Venice Film Festival, which is still an annual event - correct? I certainly don't think such is in CLINT's future. He's no Nazi. So please don't get me wrong. But it seems a striking parallel to Goebbels' award winning film, and particular for all the tears that likely were shed. Why WAS Goebbels' film successful if NOT for all that sensationalism and manipulation? Again - correct? And you're saying the same thing, here. And I was suggesting why Eastwood plays so well to the Hollywood crowd; where maybe Gibson, and his Passion, CLEARLY did not. One message was the same as before, and comfortably conformist to their reigning ideology and agenda - the latter was not.
I understand the need for movies to compress stories and use composite characters to make the storytelling work in 90 minutes.
What I don't understand is changing key facts that are at the heart of the story.
Some reasonably good adaptations I have seen are "Seabiscuit" and "October Sky". Both of these keep pretty true to their source while squeezing some of the characters and plot points.
Well this film didn't claim to be based on a true story. Again if the original fiction was it was news to everyone else.
Stories claiming to be based on "true stories" might require the approval of the original participants, perhaps even payments.
The problem here is that there is a true story parallely to the fictional story, and the filmmakers could not have been ignorant of the true story.
Suppose when Hollywood does the 911 story it changes the perps to right-wing extremists inspired by a well-known talk radio host-- and claims it's OK because it's fiction?
I'm saying I think they were ignorant of it. I didn't know about this story. Did you? It wasn't exactly big news. Female boxing hardly ever is.
I think if I were making a major motion picture about a female boxer who sustains a serious brain injury, and such an event had happened within the past five years, I'd be aware of it. If only through the researches of the studio legal department.
Fair enough. We will find out for sure if there is a lawsuit.
I don't think there will be alawsuit. The story is presented as fiction, and the facts have been changed.
I do think, though, that this changes my perception of the movie and the moviemakers. Before, I merely say this as an extension of the Cider House Rules school of filmmaking. Now I see it as a deliberate perversion of a real story.
It could be that both stories are being spun.
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