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11 Hollywood blockbusters that have butchered history

Ian Harvey

The world of Hollywood is here to entertain us. Sometimes, in order to keep our attention, they have to twist the facts, especially in non-fictional movies. For example, Disney had their own version of Pocahontas. For those who do not know the real story, they would think that Disney did a rather good portrayal of the young Native American girl and the settlers. However, there were many misleading “facts” throughout the movie that were unforgivable to the history buff.

Pocahontas isn’t the only history movie that portrayed real facts incorrectly. There have been countless movies that have done a poor job when it comes to historical events. Here are the top movies that have lied to viewers about the real historical events:

  1. Imitation Game


This movie came out in 2015 and had been nominated for Best Picture. The movie starred Benedict Cumberbatch as the real-life Alan Turing, a computer scientist who was tortured for information during World War II.

The movie is about the breaking of the German Enigma code. However, the movie decided to throw in some false events to spice up the rather dull movie. Directors and writers decided to portray Turing as pathetic, more so than he was in real life.

In the movie adaptation, Turing had built a machine called “Christopher” after his childhood love interest. The machine had actually been named Victory in real-life and he did not build the machine all by himself. The movie also portrays Turing as having worked against other code-breakers, when in reality it was more of an effort to be collaborative.

Another issue with the movie was that Turin was actually a rather funny, sociable man who just preferred to work alone. However, the movie makes him out to have had Asperger’s, a condition that causes the sufferer to have a faulty sense of humor; Turing was made out to be an overly serious man.

As far as the character’s (fictional, in this case) subplot, they made Turing a homosexual. The character then has his homosexuality used against him in order to prevent him from exposing a Soviet agent. Every single aspect of these scenes in the movie was completely made up.

  1. American Hustle

This movie was also made a Best Picture nominee. It tells the story of the Abscam scandal, which saw nearly 30 political figures indicted for accepting bribes from a fake Arab company. The sad thing is the movie never gives a hint of what actually happened.

At the beginning of the movie, the actress, Amy Adams, makes a statement that claims some of what is portrayed in the movie actually happened in real life. Adams is an American actress but was supposed to play a British woman. The actual subject of the movie was British.

The mayor of Camden in the movie, who was played by Jeremy Renner, was portrayed as a selfless person who claimed he took the bribes to better his community. In reality, he had offered to help a fake Arab Sheikh to get into drug smuggling and money counterfeiting.

Sadly, these plot changes in the story ruin the real reputations of people in order to make the movie more interesting for its viewers. Not surprisingly, the real operation was more interesting than the movie adaptation.

  1. Pocahontas

This movie tells the story of a Native American princess who falls in love with John Smith, an early colonist. The first failure in this adaptation is that Pocahontas is portrayed as a young adult, however, in real life, she was only 10 or 11-years old when the colonists came to North America.

Surprisingly, Smith and Pocahontas, whose real name was Matoaka, never fell in love. There was actually very little evidence that Pocahontas saved his life at all. Smith is believed to have made the whole story up to impress the other colonists.

Pocahontas did marry an English colonist, his name was John Rolfe. She eventually moved to England with him.

  1. The Patriot

This movie told the story about an American farmer, played by Mel Gibson. The character ended up taking up the Revolutionary cause after his son died. However, a majority of this story is completely false. This adaptation, in fact, turned the British into completely blood-thirsty murderers.

The scene where the British Colonel Tavington burns a church full of people was not even part of the Revolutionary War history. In fact, it was an actual war crime committed by the German military at Oradour-sur-Glane.

Gibson’s character was also considered a wealthy landowner from South Carolina, a state that had the highest number of slaves. Interestingly, he was not even a slave owner in the movie.

  1. 300

The first major twist in this story is that a majority of the real Spartans probably didn’t have abs like they did in this movie. What is most interesting is that the movie almost makes viewers side with the Spartans. King Leonidas insulted the Athenians by actually calling them “boy lovers” when in reality the Spartans had actually been the ones with an “institutional pederasty.”

If the Greek Spartans lived to see this adaptation, they would be extremely confused. As for the constant slow motion scenes…why? Spartans did not know the American concept of freedom (obviously). In fact, they benefited from slavery and lived off of the hard work the helots (slaves) did. This allowed them to support their warrior society.

  1. Gladiator

This movie came out in 2000 and won the Best Picture Oscar. Sadly, it was never intended to be made for historical accuracy, especially for the characterizations of those in the movie. The real emperor Commodus was the antagonist to Russell Crowe’s fictional character Maximus. However, Maximus was already helping his father, Marcus Aurelius, run the empire when he died. He did not murder him to get to the emperor’s seat, Aurelius had already set him up as his successor, making it unnecessary for him to kill him. Commodus ruled for 13 years as Emperor of Rome.

Another thing they got wrong was that all of the gladiator scenes were chaotic and messy. In real life, there were rules, referees, and codes for the fighters to follow. Commodus, who is thought to have killed hundreds in the arena, didn’t die in the arena – he was strangled to death in a bath by his wrestling partner.

  1. Braveheart

Again, this movie was another Best Picture winner. This is another example of turning the real history into a show for the American concept of freedom. The ideas of personal freedom didn’t actually exist at this time. Mel Gibson’s character, William Wallace, was not a poor villager who was motivated by the murder of his wife, he was a knight and a landowner.

Another issue is that everyone is wearing kilts when they wouldn’t have been invented until the 1500s; that’s almost 200 years into the future from the date which the movie depicts. The nickname brave heart also belonged to a completely different hero in Scotland named Robert the Bruce.

Gibson’s love interest in the movie was supposedly Queen Isabella of France. However, if the movie had followed a real timeline, the queen would have only been two years old at the time.

  1. Pearl Harbor

Many historians had a bone to pick when this movie came out. The most interesting fact is that the war movie suddenly turned into a romance story. One historian said that the director, Michael Bay, should have paid a historian so that he could actually get his facts right.

There were so many things that were portrayed wrong, it was ridiculous. One of them was that President Franklin Roosevelt was in a wheelchair – in one scene, he gets up from his wheelchair. Another issue is that Ben Affleck’s character enlists in the British Royal Air Force, which would have been impossible since the United States was neutral, and military personnel couldn’t serve in active foreign armies as long as their governments stayed out of the conflict. The last insult was the appearance of Kamikaze pilots, who never took a part in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

  1. U-571

This movie is completely inaccurate. It is about the American submarine that steals the German Enigma code machine. That right there is false, considering it was Alan Turing who made that happen. Another problem was that neither the Americans nor the U-571 had anything to do with the capture of the Enigma code machine.

The first one was taken by the British in May 1941 from the German U-110, nearly seven months before the Americans had entered the war.

  1. Red Tails

This 2012 movie told the story of black soldiers in World War II. Throughout the film, it attempted to portray the Tuskegee airmen, who were a group of servicemen of the African-American United States Army Air Force. Sadly, the events are fictional and try to give those men a more heroic aspect than what was actually true.

One of the real airmen had even commented that the movie is full of myths. The men never lost a bomber, never scored a first victory over German jet fighters, and weren’t the most distinguished group of airmen to fight.

  1. Amadeus

Although this movie was quite popular, the film is rather inaccurate, telling Mozart’s life story. Salieri and Mozart had never had a rivalry, Salieri never commissioned a piece from him in secrecy, and he never assisted Mozart in writing it on his deathbed.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News