New movie reopens old can of worms

Western Producer reporters and editors don’t usually spend a lot of time worrying about the movies — not at work, anyway.

After all, they’re not, as you might say, in our wheelhouse.

But the email wires were burning up last week as we tried to figure out how to handle a movie that is expected to be released this fall about — as the poster says — “one man’s fight against corruption.”

Percy is the Hollywood telling of the Percy Schmeiser story, the Bruno, Sask., farmer who was found guilty of patent infringement in the early days of Roundup Ready canola.

The movie’s trailer can now be watched online, and it looks like it will be a story of how an innocent farmer stood up to evil Monsanto in its efforts to stop producers from going about their business.

These kinds of stories usually end with the protagonist winning the day, but I will be curious to see how that’s done in this case, considering that Schmeiser actually lost.

Producer reporters covered this case extensively in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and we have compiled all of this coverage into one easy-to-find place for anyone interested in learning what really happened. This archival treasure trove can be found here.

What I find interesting is my own reaction to this movie.

I’ve never been much of a stickler for complete accuracy from movies based on true events. In the end, movies aren’t documentaries. They’re pieces of fiction primarily meant to entertain. I’ve always figured it’s up to the moviegoer to separate what’s real from what isn’t.

Oliver Stone made a film in the early 1990s about the John F. Kennedy assassination that took the dizzying array of conspiracy theories that have swirled around the former U.S. president’s murder and acted as if they had all happened at the same time.

Historical purists were outraged, but I didn’t get too worked up about it. If you wanted to know what really happened, read a book. If you were looking to be entertained, watch the movie.

But for some reason, my reaction is different with this movie.

It’s probably because for once I’m confronted with a film that appears — from the trailer at any rate — to play with facts that were part of my professional life for years.

Facts, I might add, that actually are in my wheelhouse.

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