Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland has won several accolades since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival and is also constantly referred to as an Oscar contender. This critically acclaimed film tells the story of Fern, played by Frances McDormand, a woman who is forced to a nomad life after losing her job. She takes up different jobs to make her ends meet. For instance, she works as a waitress at Wall Drug. With the remarkable success and high ratings it got – 95% on Rotten Tomatoes – it has people questioning, is Nomadland a true story?-+*
There is definitely a grey area when one has to categorise the movie as a true story or not. When looking at all the events that take place throughout the movie as it is, Nomadland cannot be considered as a true story. However, it does take inspiration from real people as it is based on the non-fictional book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by journalist Jessica Bruder. Both the movie and the book focus on the people who had to choose a nomad life due to the economic crisis in America that put them in a financially difficult position. They give up their houses and live in vans looking for jobs. As Fern says in the movie, “I am not homeless, I am just houseless.”
One of the reasons the lines between fiction and nonfiction is blurred in the movie is because the movie features real nomads. When writing the book that inspired this neo-western drama, Bruder travelled five states for about three years and spoke with more than 50 nomads. They were all the elderly people who had lost their jobs, homes or bank savings. Three of these ageing people – Charlene Swankie, Bob Wells, and Linda May – we see in the movie. They all act as a guide to Fern who is just becoming a part of their lifestyle. May, who is the main protagonist in the book, is living in her jeep as she tries to save up money for building a sustainable house. May’s character in the movie is very similar to it.
Another movie that is catching people’s attention for being based on a real person is Silk Road. It is based on a convict named Ross Ulbricht who was arrested for creating and operating the darknet site Silk Road. It was referred to as an “anonymous marketplace” and was used to sell illegal drugs. Love, Simon’s Nick Robinson plays Ulbricht in the movie.
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