Movies Based On True Stories That Are Mostly False – Part 4

Posted on 16 Oct 00:00

Movies have one of the most significant parts of human entertainment for more than a century. The first film was released in 1995, and millions of others have been shot since then. There are fictional, romance, drama, biographical, science-fiction, and black comedy films, among many others. Every movie is either adapted from or based on something. Watching such films gives us a wonderful experience, whether in single episodes or a movie series franchise. The basis can be on a song, music, novel, or another film. The songs, music, or the books that form the movies' bases give a firm ground for movie buffs to enjoy the movies. Unfortunately, some of these movies end up being false because of errors here and there. There could be chronological errors, personality misrepresentation, or a distortion of the entire film. Although film licenses allow such liberties, the movies are historically misleading. Here are some seven movies which despite having their bases on true stories, are mostly false.

1.  Wild Bill (1995)

The 1995 'Wild Bil'l is a Western that features legendary lawman Wild Bill Hickok (Jeff Bridges) during his last days. Walter Hill wrote the movie's script and later directed the film. He used Peter Dexter’s 'Deadwood' book and Thomas Babe’s 'Fathers and Sons' play to write the movie's screenplay. Wild Bill focuses on Bill's entire career, from his first gunfight he took part in until his death at 39 years old when drifter Jack McCall (David Arquette) murders him.

Director:  Walter Hill

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Ellen Barkin (Martha Jane Cannary/Calamity Jane), David Arquette (Jack McCall), and John Hurt (Charley Prince) play the movie's leading roles.

Awards and nominations:  'Wild Bill' was a tremendous success upon release.  Upon its release, the movie received three nominations; two for Best Actor (Jeff Bridges) and one for Best Director (Walter Hill). Although many movie goers love the film, it has lots of inaccuracies.

Inaccuracies:  The movie has two different sources, making it quite unusual and highly inaccurate. Walter got the idea about Deadwood town from Dexter's 'Deadwood' book but used Babe's play to shape the concept. The actual Jack McCall in the Deadwood book was a drunkard with a mean steak. However, Babe presents him as a homosexual pervert and illegitimate son of Bill, who is so depraved that he sleeps with the mother. Everything about Jack is made up in the movie. Hill says that he chose to present Jack to be drowning cats, committing incest, and putting on a dress, just to portray him as a ne'er'do well. Also, Jack's portrait as a son Bill did not want is not true.

2.  Cinderella Man (2005)

'Cinderella Man' is based on a true story, but false premises. The film adopted its title and drew its inspiration from the nickname of James J. Braddock, 'A Heavyweight Boxing Champion'. The setting is the Great Depression in New York and New Jersey. At this time, former successful boxer, James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe), faces difficult economic times when all his possessions and savings vanish with the stock market crash. His wife Mae Braddock (Renée Zellweger) and their three children nearly die of hunger and cold. They survive starvation and lack of heating alongside as well as other daily hardships. In 1934, things take an up turn for the Braddock family. Braddock’s coach and manager, Joe Gould, presents him with an opportunity to resume boxing, and Braddock becomes the symbol of  hope for people in a ruined nation.

Director: Ron Howard.

Cast: Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger and Paul Giamatti.

Awards and Nominations:  It received three nominations, with Giamatti being nominated as the Best Actor.

Inaccuracies:  Despite its thrilling nature, Cinderella Man has many inaccuracies. There is personality misrepresentation. The movie portrays Max Baer, his opponent, as hateful and mean so that Braddock appears to be heroic. However, the real-life Baer was a pleasant and quite humane person. Baer intentionally kills Frankie Campbell and Ernie Schaaf in the movie and gloats afterwards. In contrast, Baer felt terrible and was tormented by the fact that these two men died at his hand; he never boasted about it. The film also blames Baer for Schaaf’s death. However, his autopsy revealed that he had died of cerebral edema and meningitis, which he contracted from the previous flu bouts. Generally, the movie is good. Many liberties taken affected the movie's accuracy.

3.  Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Many movie goers are likely is acquainted with the 1962 British epic historical drama,' Lawrence of Arabia' based on T.E. Lawrence and his 1926 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom book'.  Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) is familiar with the native Bedouin tribes. Therefore, the government sends him to Arabia to find Prince Faisal Sir Alec Guinness). He is to liaison with Arabs and the British in their quest to fight the Turks. Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif), an Arabian native, helps Lawrence to go defy the orders of his seniors. He travels through the harsh desert using a camel to invade the highly-parameterized Turkish port.  Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson wrote the script and Sam Spiegel produced.

DirectorDavid Lean

CastPeter O’Toole and Alec Guinness are the main stars.

Awards and Nominations:  The film was wildly celebrated upon release and recieved nominations for awards by many organizations such as the Academy Awards, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Awards. Of the ten nominations by Academy Awards, the movie won seven, including the Best Director and Best Picture awards, among other accolades.

Inaccuracies:  People worldwide celebrate this movie. However, it has many discrepancies. The film depicts the Arab soldiers as tribal and raw. However, in reality, the soldiers were civilized people who were well trained and very disciplined. Lawrence is portrayed as over representing himself, and is a grave misrepresentation of the intelligent Lawrence.

4.  'Inglourious Basterds' (2004)

This is another excellent, yet false movie that portrays Nazi Germany's leadership, and two assassination plots. The setting is German-occupied France. Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), a young Jewish refugee, witnesses how Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) slaughters her family. Years later, German war hero Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl) expresses his interest in her, she uses this opportunity to plot revenge by arranging a spectacular movie premiere with all principal Nazi officers in attendance. Ultimately leading to the collaboration of Dreyfus and the "Basterds" (a group of Jewish-American guerrilla soldiers led by the ruthless Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) to assassinate the German leaders. The ordeal is dangerous and almost claims Dreyfus’ life.

Director:  Quentin Tarantino.

Cast:  Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz and Melanie Laurent.

Awards and Nominations:  The film garnered many awards and nominations, including eight Academy Awards, a Golden Globe award, and a BAFTA Award.

Inaccuracies:  'Inglorious Basterds' has many errors. First, and most glaring, Hitler is killed in a movie theatre. In the movie his death is accomplished by a French girl whose parents were slaughtered by the Nazis. This is not true. Adolf Hitler committed suicide by shooting himself with a gun. There are other liberties taken by the director and the producer which could appear minor. However, they contribute to making the movie inaccurate.

5.  10,000 BC (2008)

'10,000 BC' is another celebrated film, yet it is full of erroneous material, but based on a true story. This 2008 American action-adventure film is set in pre-historic time. It is about a pre-historic tribe of mammoth hunters and the journeys they take. D'Leh (Steven Strait) is a mammoth hunter who finds beautiful Evolet (Camilla Belle) so attractive that he bonds with her in the course of hunting.  Evolet and the tribesmen get in trouble when warriors on horseback capture her and the tribesmen. Circumstances force D’Leh to embark on an odyssey to save his true love.

Director:  Roland Emmerich

Cast:  Steven Strait and Camilla Belle.

Awards and Nominations: The only documented award is the BMI Music Film Award that Thomas Wander won.

Inaccuracies:  This film is full of errors. In it, there are animals that are extinct and those that hadn't yet evolved. Sailboats were in the film which that era did not exist. Millennia would need to pass before they can see boats. The movie falsely presents the saber-toothed cats to be of the same size as hippos. Indeed, this film is highly accurate, and this is because the producer and the director paid attention to style at the expense of accuracy.

6.  Shakespeare in Love (1998)

This 1998 romantic period comedy-drama 'Shakespeare in Love' is a movie that features playwright William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) and how he falls in love with Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow). William is having a difficult time working on his latest work, 'Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter'. Among his fans, there is the young and wealthy Viola De Lesseps. She constantly dreams of acting despite her marriage to the cold-hearted Lord Wessex (Colin Firth).  Although she's passionate about acting, women are prohibited from acting on stage, and males play women's roles. Driven by her passion, Viola dresses up as a boy, and auditions for Romeo's part. Soon, Viola and William are caught in a forbidden love affair that richly inspires his play.

Director:  John Madden

Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush are the movie’s main starring actors.

Awards and Nominations:  The film earned many awards and nominations, including seven Academy Awards ( Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen).

Inaccuracies:  Despite being a box office success and grossing highly, 'Shakespeare in Love' has inaccuracies. Only names, events, places, and situations are real in this movie. Most of the events in the film are based on speculation that lack grounds. In the movie, Shakespeare works on two plays; 'Romeo' and the 'Twelfth Night'. These are actual plays, but the timeline is incorrect. The film uses some props that are too early for the era the movie portrays. Also, the movie depicts Queen Elizabeth as attending a play outside the court and in public during the Bubonic Plague outbreak. This was unlikely.

7.  Foxcatcher (2014)

Among the primarily false films, despite being based on a true story, is the 2014  biographical, psychological sports drama, 'Foxcatcher'. The film’s storyline is around millionaire John Du Pont ( Steve Carell), and his relationship with brothers Dave (Mark Ruffalo) and Mark (Channing Tatum) Schultz. Dave and Mark are Olympic gold-medal wrestlers who train at Du Pont’s estate. At the beginning, Mark holds Du Pont in high regards, and idolizes him. However, that ends when he slowly realizes how deep his benefactor's madness is rooted. Eventually, Du Pont murders him. E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman developed the screenplay.

Director:  Bennett Miller.

Cast:  Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo play the prominent roles in the movie.

Awards and Nominations:  Since its release, the film has received many nominations and awards, including three Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture. It was also nominated for five Oscars during the 2015 Academy awards.

Inaccuracies:  The Foxcatcher contains many liberties that contribute to historical inaccuracies. Du Pont and Mark's relation never happened, although other details like the settings, wrestling details, and Champion sweatshirts are accurate. The film shows Du Pont giving Mark money to train at Foxcatcher when in reality, Du Pont enticed Mark with free housing and facilities. Du Pont also hooks Mark on drugs in the movie, but in reality, this did not happen. These are just a few among many errors in the Foxcatcher movie that contribute to its inaccuracy.


Among the many films we watch, there are those based on true stories. Despite being based on true-life stories, many of them are primarily false. 

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