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Real Footage Re-creation

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Above: Photo of mortally wounded Benno Ohnesorg from June 2nd, 1967. Below: Recreation in The Baader Meinhof Complex, 2008.
A popular way for creators to sell the audience on the authenticity and pinpoint accuracy of their Docudrama, Dramatisation or any other work Based on a True Story (even if just loosely) is to try and painstakingly re-stage famous moments that were caught on film in Real Life.

To achieve that, the scene would be shot on location or on meticulously recreated sets, utilising period-accurate props, actors and extras of uncannily similar builds as their historical characters, and even the same camera angles (or, just for novelty, completely new angles). Liberal (though suitably camouflaged) use of CGI and other special effects is not unheard of.

Needless to say, this can be quite a daunting task, since the maker essentially invites direct comparisons of his work to the real deal. If done well, such recreations can actually pass for legitimate pieces of historical footage themselves (and cause no shortage of confusion). If done poorly, it could just as easily serve to expose the maker's failure to pay enough attention to the minute details of their supposedly faithful re-telling.

It should be noted that the shot in question can end up being re-contextualised to the heart's content of the makers since it's the visual accuracy that counts first and foremost, not necessarily the details surrounding the footage or the event itself.

This trope can also apply In-Universe, although Stylistic Suck is certain to abound in the best of cases.

Contrast with the Homage Shot, which takes deliberate inspiration from a different piece of footage but doesn't strive to imitate it in any photorealistic manner. Also contrast with Art Imitates Art, if the source is explicitly as fictional as the recreation.

Not to be confused with Crime Reconstruction, which involves recreating an event that there isn't real footage of.


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  • It is common practice for painters of portraits or landscape paintings to take a photo of their subject before using it as a reference for their work.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • During one of Ron Howard's special advance screenings of Apollo 13 for real life astronauts, the launch sequence footage was so realistic Buzz Aldrin thought it had been shot at an actual launch and asked Ron how he'd gotten it. When Ron informed him that they'd made it themselves, Buzz was silent for a moment, then asked if NASA could use it.
  • The Baader Meinhof Complex thrives on this trope, recreating (amongst other things) well-known footage of the 2nd of June Berlin riots of 1967 (including photos taken of student Benno Ohnesorg moments before and after he was fatally shot by policeman Karl-Heinz Curras), as well as photos taken during the 1972 arrest of Andreas Baader, Jan-Carl Raspe and Holger Meins. It also recreates events like the attempted murder of Rudi Dutschke and the abduction of Hanns-Martin Schleyer based on crime scene photography.
  • In addition to digitally altering historical footage to insert Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump also makes extensive use of recreating historical scenes in the traditional sense, namely George Wallace's 1963 Schoolhouse Door speech and the 1967 March on the Pentagon rally, as well as Dick Cavett's interview of John Lennon (with the former starring As Himself).
  • Flags of Our Fathers: The main characters recreate the famous Iwo Jima Pose during the second flag-raising sequence, complete with the two photographers capturing and filming the scene In-Universe.
  • A number of films (namely Jackie and Watchmen) recreate the shooting of John F. Kennedy, based on (in)famous pieces of footage such as the Zapruder Film.
  • Argo restages several iconic photos and recordings of the Iranian Revolution, including street protests, the storming of the US embassy, and the infamous hanged men suspended on cranes.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody recreates many of Queen's most famous concerts and music videos, culminating in the 1985 Live Aid concert in London.
  • Man on the Moon recreates many of Andy Kaufman's most famous comedy routines, notably one of his wrestling matches and his work on Taxi.
  • Saving Mr. Banks: Early in the film, Tom Hanks appears as Walt Disney in a recreation of one of his lead-ins for his weekly television show (specifically, the intro for "An Adventure in the Magic Kingdom"). The final scene also recreates the 1964 world premiere of Mary Poppins at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
  • Christine (2016) relates the events leading up to Christine Chubbuck's on-air suicide. The actual footage of the suicide is kept locked away so this recreation is as close as most people will come to seeing it.
  • Hugo features recreations of the early silent film work of Georges Méliès. A dream sequence also reenacts the famous 1895 Montparnasse derailment.
  • Hitchcock briefly recreates backstage scenes from the making of Psycho.
  • Invoked in Judas and the Black Messiah, which reproduces the footage of Bill's television interview in the prologue with Lakeith Stanfield. The real footage is then shown for the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue.
  • Downfall recreates the last known footage of Adolf Hitler from a March 1945 newsreel when he went out of his bunker to award Hitler Youth Child Soldiers.
  • The Three Stooges (2000) features restaged routines from several of the Stooges' Columbia shorts. One notable error occurs in the depiction of Curly's career-ending stroke; the film shows him collapsing in the middle of a take while shooting Half Wits Holiday, despite eyewitness accounts saying that it happened while the cameras weren't rolling.
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 features black and white footage of the riots in Chicago, using quick cuts with the color footage, along with several black and white pictures of the shooting in the house."
  • The opening titles of Watchmen feature recreations of several famous historical photographs with changes showing the effects of the film's alternate history.
  • The Disaster Artist recreates several shots from The Room (2003) from a behind-the-camera perspective.
  • Good Night, and Good Luck.: Played straight with scenes where David Strathairn re-creates news broadcasts as Edward R. Murrow. Averted with Senator Joseph McCarthy, who is not portrayed by an actor in the film and shown only through archival footage.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Chernobyl recreates the Chernobyl Mi-8 helicopter crash through the use of CGI (and from different camera angles), albeit setting the crash at a point of time several months before it occurred in Real Life.
  • The Crown regularly recreates newsreel footage documenting moments like Queen Elizabeth II's wedding, her coronation, and several of her state visits.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Tikka to Ride", the footage of JFK's assassination was recreated, with Farnborough standing in for Dallas. It was nearly discarded in post-production as Doug Naylor thought they looked a little too real.

    Video Games 
  • JFK: Reloaded (ostensibly) attempts to confirm the findings of the Warren Commission into Who Shot JFK? by recreating the crime scene from the POV of Lee Harvey Oswald in the Texas Schoolbook Depository building in Austin, Texas. Some replay options enable the player to view it from Zapruder's and other cameras' positions.
  • Throughout 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, homage is paid to many famous Real Life snapshots of the Iranian Revolution, to the point of encouraging the player (a student with a Polaroid camera) to seek them out and capture them.
  • Played With In-Universe in Return Of The Obra Dinn, where Justice At Sea (a pencil sketch of an on-board execution by firing line with much of the crew watching) ends up in the player's hands, who then uses it to identify the individual crew members depicted therein. The player eventually ends up travelling back in time to the very moment of the actual execution, where the sketch turns out to be remarkably faithful to the real thing, albeit with some minor embellishments.