Below is a montage of scenes from the first modern reality show, 1973's An American Family, and their counterparts in HBO's original movie Cinema Verite, which premiered on Saturday. Watching Diane Lane's and Tim Robbins' performances next to the people they're portraying (Pat and Bill Loud), the differences are obvious — the fictional spin on the Louds is infinitely more melodramatic. Peaceful discussions get injected with hostility and hysteria, scenes stretch on to belabor points and simple goodbyes become heavy-handed symbols.
Though the source material was obviously consulted in the making of Cinema Verite, it's no surprise that Verite directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini took the artistic license they did. After all, they had 90 minutes to tell the story of the Loud family, whereas the original series had 12 hours. That said, there's something deliciously ironic about the way the Louds' behavior has been distorted in Verite, since the movie itself ends with real footage of the family complaining about how the show distorted them. After 38 years, the Louds remain difficult to get right.