History vs Hollywood

Tinseltown exaggerates – that much we know. Now that the Oscar dust has settled on Wild, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game, Benita Lee looks at four upcoming films based on true stories

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken
Sordid crime tale about the ultimate heist

Reel life The title is self-explanatory. Anthony Hopkins plays the late Freddy Heineken – yes, of that beer company – who is the grandson of the brewery’s founder. Five criminals plot to kidnap him using the oldest trick in the book: an unmarked van, a heavy right foot and a whole lotta cajones. Channelling Hannibal Lecter, Hopkins is chillingly calm, directing his piercing gaze on the men to mess with their minds. Moral of the story? Don’t mess with Anthony Hopkins. Just don’t.

This isn’t the first time a movie has been made about Heineken’s story. Four years ago, a Dutch film, De Heineken Ontvoering (The Heineken Kidnapping), was declared inaccurate by the kidnappers. But things are looking up for this attempt, adapted from crime journalist Peter R de Vries’ 1987 book, which he penned after covering the case for a Dutch newspaper, where he helped track down one of the kidnappers. Our fingers are crossed.

Real life Yes, the beer tycoon (and his driver) were really kidnapped for 21 days in 1983. The caper was two years in the making, and the men did get what they demanded: a whopping 35 million Dutch guilders (about $26 million), the largest in the history of ransoms. But far from being hardened thugs, the men ran a construction business that floundered after a recession. After the crime made it to front page news, they fled separately and were hunted down over the years, eventually ending up behind bars.

Cheesy movie quote ‘There are two ways a man can be rich in this life. He can have a lot of money, or he can have a lot of friends. But he cannot have both.’ – Hopkins as Heineken

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken is in theatres from Mar 19.

Is this the reel life?



Opens Sep 24

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The Walk

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays French daredevil Philippe Petit, who, in 1974, attempted the ultimate balance test: crossing the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Cheered on by a crowd, he performed for 45 minutes, walking, dancing and kneeling to salute those watching.

In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea

Opens Dec 12

This is the real-life catastrophe that inspired Moby-Dick. In 1820, the whaling ship Essex came under attack by a massive whale, stranding the crew at sea. As days turned into months, the men found themselves clawing at anything – even cannibalism – to survive.