How many times have you gone to the movies and watched a film that was “based on true events”? Audiences love to see films of this kind, especially when said films depict epic battles and historical moments. Sometimes, however, audiences go to the movies without the slightest idea the film they are about to watch is actually based on reality, and sometimes movies that are supposed to be realistic twist the story to benefit the box office. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular films, based on true events, from 90’s and beyond.
Braveheart - 1995
Yes, Braveheart was based on real Scottish hero William Wallace and his battle against King Edward I of England. Braveheart was a box office success and was nominated for 10 Oscars--5 of which they won. This movie initiated the pre-war pep rally speech you now see every leader give his warriors in nearly every war movie ever since Braveheart’s debut. While some call the movie one of the most historically inaccurate films ever, it did a lot for the Scottish tourism industry. Thanks to Braveheart, thousands flocked to Scotland to learn more about the country’s history and helped the country pull in 7-15 million pounds thanks to movie-loving tourists.
Black Hawk Down - 2001
Ridley Scott is one of the most famous film directors of our generation. The genius behind movies like Alien and Gladiator also directed this film, based on the Battle of Mogadishu. While the movie filmed in Morocco, the story takes place in Somalia. A US black hawk helicopter is shot down and the soldiers try to survive until they are rescued, but during that time they experience the true horrors of war and lose friends along the way. While Americans loved the film, the people of Somalia complained and said it painted them in a negative light. Despite any negative press, Black Hawk Down was a hit and won 2 Oscars.
Apollo 13 - 1995
This Ron Howard masterpiece was based on the failed Apollo 13 mission. This shuttle carried a crew intending to be the 3rd group of people to walk on the moon, but an explosion on board damaged the shuttle’s oxygen supplies and electrical wiring. Not only did those events endanger the astronauts, the malfunctions also prevented the team from ever reaching the moon. To add to the film’s authenticity, Ron Howard got permission from NASA to use one of their low-gravity machines in order to film the space scenes in the movie. The actors also underwent the same NASA training real astronauts would go through in order to give them the proper mindset for the film.
Schindler’s List - 1993
The Holocaust has to be one of, if not the most difficult subjects to tackle for any filmmaker. So many movies have created tales of hope out of such a horrific event, but there is one movie that set the standard for films depicting this dark time in our history. Schindler’s List is based on Oskar Schindler, a German business man that saves thousands of people from the Nazis by offering them work in his factories. Steven Spielberg directed this classic, but the film was originally pitched to other famous directors like Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese, and Sydney Pollack. This movie brought both Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes into the Hollywood spotlight for their incredible work, and became a must in every film fanatic’s collection.
U-571 - 2000
Out of all of the films on this list, U-571 takes the cake for issues with accuracy. While the core storyline of a submarine capturing a naval Engima machine did happen, it was not done by a group of Americans on a submarine called U-571. The Engima machine was captured by British soldiers from the HMS Bulldog, using the submarine U-110 months before the Americans entered World War II. The movie offended the British public, and even inspired former prime minister Tony Blair to comment and call the movie an “affront” to the soldiers of the U-110. While not a blockbuster, the movie did experience financial success. For those of you that love trivia, the U-110 inaccuracy is only the beginning when it comes to facts this film got wrong. Keep that in mind next time you catch this flick on tv--you might end up wanting to research it yourself.