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Blogs as historical record

Julie & Julia hit theaters a few months ago, telling the parallel stories of Julia Childs’ life as she works to revolutionize American cooking and the tribulations of self-proclaimed “government drone” Julie Powell as she cooks all 536 recipes contained in Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The catch? She’s cooking them all in a year. The twist? She’s blogging about it.

The place where the story gets surreal, though, is the fact that the film is based on two true stories: Julia’s and Julie’s. As the rising action begins in the film, we see Julie, in the fall of 2002, create a blog titled “The Julie/Julia Project”, with the slogan “Nobody here but us servantless American cooks…” and type out her first post, on a screen that is shot-for-shot what the actual first post looks like.

Films such as these say that they are based on a true story, but that’s always seemed like a bit of an empty promise. Except in historical contexts (e.g. Band of Brothers telling a true story with Saving Private Ryan making one up), the difference has always been intangible whether the tale being told actually happened or not: why does it matter? But in this case, through the permanency and access of the internet, anyone interested can read through the whole year of blog posts at their leisure. It’s real and it’s right there.

Of course, wanting to read the blog source material assumes that you found the Julie part of the story interesting. I went to see the film with my girlfriend and she didn’t really care for the Julie character but found the Julia half so overbearingly amazing that she liked the film anyway. Perhaps because I sympathize the with the plights of bloggers, I actually found both halves to be quite good and ended up enjoying the film more than I expected.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Grandma
    February 2, 2010 at 9:41 am

    I just remembered to check your blog after a long spell of paying too much attention to Facebook. We saw Julie and Julia recently too, at home. Merle Streep really nailed the mannerisms of Julia Child, and was teriffic. The Julie role was sympathetic, because trying to do all those recipes in a single year (or a single lifetime) is something I would never think of doing, or want to. It’s good to know where Julie’s real blog is, and I’ll take a look. Thank you.

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