Most historically accurate/inaccurate movies

Meant, of course, Gettysburg; I don’t know why I’m always putting an h at the end.

The Scarlett Empress, with Marlene Dietrich as a version of Catherine the Great, is a good example of Hollywood making inaccurate but entertaining movies.

I imagine it started with history professors, teachers, and majors and for the most part that’s where it ends.


Not to mention anal retentives. The silly trend of listing “film flubs” has exacerbated the problem – there is no reason why a film portraying a historical event has to be accurate. The film is an entertainment, not a history lesson, and if you have to jettison historical accuracy to make a better story, then drop it like a hot boulder.

For instance, there’s a marvelous scene in a film about Johann Strauss showing him listening to the sounds of the birds, etc. in the Vienna woods and it turning into “Tales from the Vienna Woods.” Completely bogus, and no one thought otherwise, yet it’s an effective scene.

Only if a film claims accuracy (i.e., “based on a true story”) should its accuracy be criticized. Most of those mentioned here do not make that claim, and only a fool would think they have any historical validity – and a greater fool would complain about it.

Anastasia, the cartoon is extremely inaccurate.

On the other hand, it got me interested in the Romanovs, and it’s a really good movie.


Pocahontas was extremely inaccurate. Not just the story–yeah, yeah, Pocahontas was only 12, not Native American Barbie, when she saved John Smith’s life, assuming he didn’t make the whole thing up.

The thing that really drove me nuts was the scenery. I lived about five miles from Jamestown when the movie came out, and you would be hard pressed to find a flatter landscape. No 3000 foot waterfalls there.

If you’re looking for inaccuracy, it’s hard to beat the movie version of Wild Wild West. At least, my American history textbook never mentioned anything about a giant mechanical spider.

My sister has a copy of Pocahontas and she won’t let me watch it with her. She got tired of comments about the historical inaccuracy. :wink:

“How did the tree learn to speak English?”

That and there were 3 ships, not just one. The Discovery, Godspeed and Susan Constant(sp?).

That and there were 3 ships, not just one. The Discovery, Godspeed and Susan Constant(sp?).

That and there were 3 ships, not just one. The Discovery, Godspeed and Susan Constant(sp?).


There is a reason the film should be historically accurate. Given the sorry state of history education in grade school the movies are, sadly, often a source for historical education. As I said I’m not to anal about these things and if there are some minor changes then I’m ok with it. When it comes to gross inaccuracy I do get a bit peeved.

Movies are a form of art and art can have a powerful impact on public perception. Birth of a Nation was a big lie about the origins of the KKK and what they were all about. That movie did more to boost the popularity of the KKK then anything else in the early part of the 20th century.

Well, aren’t most movies based on historical figures “based on a true story?”


Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood film contains some staggering anomalies (i’m aware it’s not a historical film). For Example:

Robin returns home to England, and lands at Dover (famous white cliffs clearly visible). He says ‘Tonight we will dine with my faher in nottingham’ - uh, that’s several hundred (3 or 4, i think) miles from Dover - and they don’t even have a horse. The very next scene, they are walking along the top of hadrian’s wall, which is up near the scottish border. Apparently, they have covered nearly 800/1000 miles that day, and have managed to walk straight past nottingham!

If we’re going for both accuracy and inaccuracy, I guess Stalingrad would feature in the former category, and both The Battle Of The Bulge and the more recent film about the capture of an Enigma machine would definitely feature in the latter.

Crusoe: you mean U-571?

I get miffed about certain WW2 pictures that downplay Canadian involvement, particularly ones that portray D-Day, but that’s more of a patriotic quibble.

I’m buggered if I can remember the title. It could be that one; I’m thinking of the film that credits the capture of the first Enigma machine to US sailors rather than the Royal Navy. It’s also a patriotic quibble, but when men died I think it’s not unreasonable to at least attempt some accuracy.

I 'spose you’re right, but it’s hard to find a major historic event where men DIDN’T die.

1776 (which was just released on DVD!) is a musical about the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Of course they didn’t sing and dance in Philadelphia, but nearly every spoken line is, if not what the historical figures actually said or wrote (though not necessarily at that time), so close as to not warrant noting. Highly accurate.

“Best Picture” refers to the craft of film making and has nothing to do with historical accuracy. (Think Titanic.) It’s based on the direction, performances by the principals, and the development of the “story” as it was fabricated or interpreted by the writers directors et al.

Bravehart and Platoon did not win as documentaries, they were competing against other cinematic works of fiction.

Here in San Antonio, there’s a lot of concern over how Ron Howard is going to depict the battle at the Alamo. Given that the true historical record is virtually nonexistent, I’m not sure that it can be all that accurate, at least in terms of history.

On the other hand, there are some things that are known, so what is known should at least be reasonably accurate.

Robin, who knows she is going to hell for blaspheming the Alamo.

Wjen it comes to nit-picking about historical accuracy…

You’re probably right. Though I can understand their aggravation. There are still people who insist that The Blair Witch Project really happened. I know a frighteningly large number of people whose knowledge of history comes from movies like Gladiator.

Anyone know how 1492 rates as far as accuracy?