All Women's Talk

7 Times the Movies Got History Wrong ...

By Alison

If there's one thing history buffs hate, it's when movies get their favorite subject wrong! Often the changes are made for dramatic purposes; after all, a movie is meant to be entertainment, not an accurate and educational portrayal of events. If you want to know more facts, watch a documentary. But sometimes filmmakers get it really, really wrong - like in these 7 movies …

Table of contents:

  1. Braveheart
  2. Enigma
  3. Pocahontas
  4. 300
  5. Pearl harbor
  6. The patriot
  7. The great escape

1 Braveheart

Oh dear - Braveheart really got a lot of things wrong. While the basic premise is accurate - William Wallace did exist, and fought against the English - the movie messes with historical facts. Wallace did not romance Princess Isabella, who was a mere tot at the time. The Scots didn't sport kilts at the time. And Braveheart also misses out a crucial detail of the Battle of Stirling Bridge - the bridge.

2 Enigma

One of the turning points in the Second World War was when the Allies cracked the Enigma code that enabled them to decode German communications. However, the movie completely omits the crucial part that Alan Turing played (he was persecuted for being gay), and doesn't even mention him.

3 Pocahontas

Braveheart wasn't the only movie that aged a female protagonist for the sake of a convenient romantic sub-plot. Pocahontas was only around 10 when she met settler John Smith, and she didn't marry him - she married John Rolfe. Plus her name was actually a nickname.

4 300

The Spartans may have lived a very long time ago, but we still know a fair bit about them. However, it seems that the makers of 300 did not. While the movie may have had some impressive battle scenes, it didn't really get the history or Spartan culture right. The movie really does mess with history. For a start, there were other soldiers fighting alongside the 300.

5 Pearl Harbor

Perhaps we shouldn't expect a Michael Bay movie to be 100% accuracy; they're more about explosions and big action scenes! But Pearl Harbor the movie did deviate somewhat from historical fact. There isn't enough space here to detail the historical errors; suffice it to say that survivors of the attack were not impressed at how the movie portrayed their experiences …

6 The Patriot

It seems that Mel Gibson has form for historically inaccurate movies. The Patriot upset British audiences for how it portrayed the British soldiers as violent brutes who burned civilians alive in a church. This 'incident' never actually happened. The movie also ignores the existence of slavery, and the heroic Gibson character is based on several people, one of whom was pretty nasty himself.

7 The Great Escape

Even if you've never seen The Great Escape, you must have seen the famous scene of Steve McQueen riding a motorbike over the fence. And guess what … it didn't happen. It also omits the involvement of Canadian POWs in the escape, and doesn't show the real fate of many of the failed escapees.

If you watch a movie based on historical events, never take it as gospel that anything in it is true. They sometimes get it right - but equally as often get it wrong. Enjoy the movie as entertainment, and if you want to know how much of it is true, do some research into the real events.

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