A Higher Truth

Four business movies purportedly “based on a true story” and the morals moviemakers drew from the real events.

By Eric Spitznagel

EVERETT COLLECTION

The Insider

Real Events: A tobacco chemist tries to blow the whistle on his employers, gets death threats. Moral: Big Tobacco is as two-dimensionally evil as you think it is. Creative License: An FBI report concluded some of the death threats were fabricated.

The Social Network

Real Events: Harvard student creates social networking site, gets sued by the Winklevi. Moral: It’s lonely being CEO, bitch. Creative License: Zuck was already involved in a long-term relationship with his future wife, Priscilla Chan.

Margin Call

Real Events: The financial sector crashes after the housing bubble bursts. Moral: Bad things happen even to semi-honest, non-stereotypical bankers. Creative License: The fictional bank is an amalgam of Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers.

The Informant!

Real Events: An FBI informant exposes fixed prices and high-fructose corn syrup at agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland. Moral: Compulsive lying is a bad thing. Creative License: Matt Damon’s inner monologue is speculative at best.

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