13 Movies Based On True Events That Didn't Tell The Whole Story
These movies claim to be based on actual events, but the screenwriters took some liberties with the truth.
1. In "Cool Runnings" (1993), the team prepares to go down the track with a rally chant.Bustle
The characters chant "Feel the Rhythm! Feel the Rhyme! Get on up, it's bobsled time!" to pump themselves up before a run. The screenwriters made up this chant to increase the excitement in what might otherwise have been a rather uninspiring scene.
Also, in the movie, the team is mainly made up of top-level sprinters who missed the cut for the Summer Olympics. In reality, the team was not able to attract any such sprinters. Instead, they found some runners from the Air Force.
2. In "Braveheart" (1995), William Wallace has an affair with King Edward I's daughter-in-law, Isabella.Film Fisher
Given that Isabella was an infant in real life at the time the film is set, this storyline was obviously added solely for dramatic effect.
Other inaccuracies in the movie include Edward II's age (he was only 13 at the time) and the institution of primae noctis (the practice of allowing a lord or an officer to deflower a new bride) by King Edward I. Although primae noctis has been a thing at various times in history, there is no historical evidence that King Edward I instituted such a policy.
3. According to the disclaimer at the beginning, "Fargo" (1996) is a true story that took place in Minnesota in 1987.Grantland
The disclaimer is inaccurate but not entirely false. The Coen brothers, who are notorious for creative manipulation of cinematic conventions, included the fictional disclaimer to establish the genre.
Ethan Coen said, “We wanted to make a movie just in the genre of a true story movie. You don’t have to have a true story to make a true story movie.”
As it turns out, elements of the movie were based upon two separate true stories. The crime Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy's character) commits—defrauding General Motors with his VIN scam—is an actual crime a person committed.
The wood-chipper scene was also based on an actual crime, although it did not happen to the General Motors scam artist.
4. In "Catch Me If You Can" (2002), FBI agent Carl Hanratty pursues con artist Frank Abagnale for several years and develops a kind of fatherly relationship with him.Rock Love Austin
In fact, Carl Hanratty never existed. The character is a composite of a number of FBI agents who worked to track down Abagnale. Tom Hanks invented the character's name by combining the names of "The Donna Reed Show" star Carl Betz and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Hanratty.
If anyone deserves credit for being the inspiration for Hanratty, it was an FBI agent named Joe Shea, but he did not develop a relationship with Abagnale as depicted in the movie. Scenes in which the two spoke on the phone were complete fiction.
The most interesting thing about this "true story" is that, although Abagnale definitely fooled people into believing he was an attorney, an airline pilot, a physician, and a professor, and he did pass approximately $2.5 million in bad checks, questions still exist regarding his story from this period.
Abagnale has stated that certain events in the movie are true and then claimed at other times that they are not. He insists that the movie is accurate, even though parts of it do not match what's written in his book. Essentially, there's no way to know what to believe. He's a con artist to the core.
5. In "Milk" (2008), Dan White's assassination of Harvey Milk was motivated by homophobia.Amazon.com
While the film strongly suggests that Milk's assassin, Dan White, was a tortured homophobic soul, unable to reconcile his own repressed sexuality with his Catholic beliefs, in reality Dan White had no issues with homosexuality. In fact, his campaign manager, Ray Sloan, was openly gay!
Dan White supported almost all of Milk's gay-rights initiatives, donated money to gay-friendly causes, and recommended Milk for committees where he felt Milk's voice might lead to more diverse discussions.
Sloan, who was never interviewed during the writing of the film, feels that White has been unfairly labeled as a homophobe for years because the story of Milk's assassination has more power if he was killed due to anti-gay sentiments. In a "San Francisco Weekly" article published in December 2008, Sloan is reported as saying that White "was just an unstable man who became homicidal when Milk and [Mayor] Moscone betrayed him politically."
6. In "The King's Speech" (2010), King George VI's stutter is a debilitating handicap.The Telegraph
Although "Bertie" did stutter and was terrified of public speaking from a young age, his stutter was not as severe as it is portrayed in the film. Also, the timeline of events was rearranged to build up to the climactic 1939 WWI-outbreak speech referenced in the title. In fact, Bertie had been making stammer-free speeches for years prior to that event.
Other inaccuracies surrounded the relationship between the Duke of York (Bertie) and his brother, Edward VIII, as well as Edward's abdication of the throne. Bertie and Edward were actually quite close; the teasing and animosity between the two in the film was fictional.
Additionally, in the movie, Winston Churchill objects to Edward's relationship with Wallis Simpson and is instrumental in the events that lead to Edward's abdication of the throne. In fact, Churchill spoke out in support of Edward's relationship and opposed Bertie taking the crown.
They did get one thing right, though. According to family members of the involved parties, the movie did accurately depict the close friendship that developed between King George VI and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue.
7. In "The Social Network" (2010), it's implied that Facebook was created to attract a girl.Collider
In reality, Mark Zuckerberg was already dating a girl—Priscilla Chan—when he created Facebook. Chan is now Zuckerberg's wife. The Facebook founder said he created the site simply because he likes building things.
Additionally, the portrayal of Zuckerberg as a cocky, insecure, angry young man has been challenged by many who know him. Zuckerberg also told Oprah Winfrey that the drama and partying contained in the film was mostly fictional. He says he spend those years focusing and working to code Facebook.
8. In "Argo" (2012), the Americans are the heroes of the story.Twin Cities Daily Planet
In real life, the rescue was a joint effort between the CIA and Canada. For years, Canada actually received full credit for the rescue, while the CIA kept its role under wraps, only to reveal its part later. In the movie, the CIA's involvement pretty much overshadows Canada's involvement, an overcorrection that some Canadians feel was unwarranted.
The film also makes a point of noting that the U.K. and New Zealand didn't offer help to the "the six." In reality, diplomats from both countries risked their lives to try to help them way before the Americans. Oh, and that tense scene at the airport? It didn't happen. That was just added for a little extra drama.
9. In "Dallas Buyer's Club" (2013), Ron Woodruff is a homophobe who flirts with his doctor.Focus Features
Woodruff's doctor was actually a man named Steve Pounders. Additionally, the movie portrayed Woodruff as homophobic, but in reality, he might have had relationships with men and women. The film also took some liberties with Woodruff's personality. Friends did describe him as somewhat "outlandish," but he was not confrontational.
Woodruff also had a daughter and a sister, but the writers and producers decided to leave them out of the story. They wanted to focus specifically on Woodruff.
10. In the movie "Rush" (2013), James Hunt and Niki Lauda are portrayed as bitter rivals.Uphe
Although the two drivers had strikingly different racing styles and competed on the track, in real life, they were friendly with one another. They even shared an apartment for a time early in their careers. The movie also tweaked a few other things.
In real life, Lauda's wife was much more shocked by his disfiguration after the crash and subsequent fire at Nürburgring. It's not surprising considering the burns to his head were quite extensive. They resulted in him losing most of his right ear, his eyebrows, and his eyelids. Nürburgring was never known as the "graveyard," either.
11. In "Saving Mr. Banks" (2013), "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers gradually warms to Walt Disney.Los Angeles Times
In reality, the depiction at the beginning of the film of Travers as a somewhat uptight, reluctant participant in the proceedings was entirely accurate. The Travers who danced and sang to "Let's Go Fly a Kite," discussed her alcoholic father with Disney, and wept with joy during the screening of the film never existed.
Travers hated all of the songs written for the film and never warmed to Disney, nor was she the type of person to discuss her unpleasant past. She did weep during the screening, but not from joy.
In her words, "Tears ran on my cheeks because it was all so distorted … I was so shocked that I felt I would never write, let alone smile, again!" When the screening ended, she had words with Disney, insisting that the "Jolly Holiday" segment (in which Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke sing and dance in an animated environment) be removed. Walt reportedly responded, "Pamela, that ship has sailed.”
12. In "12 Years a Slave" (2013), William Ford is portrayed as a weak, pompous hypocrite.Benedict Cumberbatch
In reality, Ford treated relatively Northrup well, considering the circumstances. In his writings, Northrup had nothing but kind words for the man. He was sold to the cruel master, Epps, after two (not one) physical altercations with Ford's overseer, Tibeats. The first occurred as depicted in the film. The second involved Tibeats trying to kill Northrup with an axe.
The ending of the movie played out differently, as well. In the movie, Northrup tearfully reunites with his family in New York. It's an amazing, uplifting scene, but the ending of the Northrup's story was a bit more troubling in real life. Four years after reconnecting with his family, Northrup disappeared again. No one knows what happened to him.
13. In "The Revenant" (2015), Hugh Glass is motivated by the death of his son.The Rosette News
In real life, Glass had no son. He was attacked by a bear and left behind, as shown in the movie, but his motivation to find those who'd abandoned him was in order to retrieve his prized rifle, which they had stolen. The two men left Glass buried and half-alive in a rush because they were terrified of being attacked by the indigenous tribes in the area.
The movie makes Glass look like a vengeful, rage-filled Wild West Terminator. In truth, Glass actually forgave the men that buried him and stole his rifle. Now that's compassion!
14. In "Black Mass" (2015), Whitey Bulger's time in prison doesn't seem that bad.Collider
"Black Mass" was Johnny Depp's very transparent attempt to win an Oscar. In the film, he played notorious Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger. It's a pretty standard gangster story that focuses on Bulger's work as an FBI informant.
The movie left out Bulger's traumatic prison experience. He volunteered for a program called MKUltra. Inmates received reduced prison sentence for volunteering, but they were also subjected to government experiments that included mind-altering substances. No wonder he was a bit off.
15. In "The Imitation Game" (2014), Alan Turing's boss is shown as an adversary.The Guardian
Turing was a brilliant mathematician who worked on a secret project to crack Germany's Enigma codes during World War II. In the movie, Commander Alastair Denniston oversees the project but is rather reluctant. At one point, he orders the destruction of Turing's code-breaking machine.
Denniston was actually a code breaker himself and specifically sought out Turing. He wasn't an uptight, wary supervisor saddled with a project he didn't want. The two actually admired each other.
One other thing the movie down played was Turing's freakish athletic abilities. He would routinely run 40 miles to London or bike 60 miles school like it was totally normal, and he just barely missed the 1948 Olympic team. He wasn't just some math geek!
16. "The Blind Side" (2009) makes it seem like Michael Oher didn't know how to play football.AV Club
Sandra Bullock's character, Leigh Ann Tuohy, adopts Oher when he doesn't have any place to live. Eventually, he becomes a part of the family and learns to play football. Initially, he has trouble adjusting to the game, but Tuohy appeals to his instinct to protect his new family. Suddenly, he becomes an all-star—imagine that!
The real Oher wasn't impressed with the movie at all. Oher wrote in his book, "Quinton Aaron did a great job acting the part, but I could not figure out why the director chose to show me as someone who had to be taught the game of football." He thought the movie made him look dumb, which had consequences in the real world.