20th Century Fox
Even movies that are based on true events sometimes to feel more like fantasy. Whether they're highlighting historical moments or honoring notable figures through biopics, filmmakers will go as far as adding new conflicts that never took place, inventing characters that didn't exist, and even altering the details of certain incidents to fit a different narrative. While some have mastered the art of taking a few liberties to improve the film's overall quality, others have made some bizarre and unnecessary changes that completely dismissed important history. And when it comes to biopics, they can actually be damaging enough to tarnish someone's legacy - or clever enough to romanticize someone who was *actually* the worst.
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
This film just might be the main reason why there are so many myths flying around about the infamous pair to this day. For instance, they never switched from doing smaller heists to robbing banks, but they did work with gang members and murder people. They also didn't first meet while Clyde was trying to steal Bonnie's mom's car. They met through a mutual friend in West Dallas, while Bonnie was out of a job and staying with a friend. One of the biggest moments that got left out, however, was their car accident, which left Bonnie with third-degree burns so bad that she could barely walk.
This movie was not only missing historical context, but it also omitted crucial moments and got a few details wrong (like the fact that Marie actually never said "Let them eat cake"). However, director Sofia Coppola explained that she never meant for this film to be historically accurate in the first place. Rather, she wanted to focus on Marie's personal coming-of-age story after she was sent to France to marry Louis XVI. She said: "I would get bored when it would get sort of too detailed. I didn’t want to get bogged down with history, but to focus on the personal relations between these people. Louis wouldn’t sleep with her, so she wanted to go out and party — like someone in a bad marriage going shopping. It just seemed like the same old story."
Hunter "Patch" Adams is known for founding The Gesundheit! Institute and bringing joy to people like refugees, orphans, and hospital patients by sending clowns from around the world. However, he wasn't thrilled about his self-titled biopic because it failed to mention his activism and his character was almost nothing like him. He said: "After the movie, there wasn't a single positive article about our work or me. There were dumb, stupid, meaningless things... it made my children cry. They actually thought that they didn't know the person they were reading about." He then went on to explain the real work he was doing, which included organizing a group of clowns to visit Cuba after a huge hurricane.
Yes, the story of how Facebook began was definitely entertaining to watch, but a lot of major details were either distorted or simply left out. For instance, the movie never shows or even mentions Adam D'Angelo, Mark's original collaborator on the Facebook app. Mark said in an interview: "There are hugely basic things that they got wrong... [They] made it seem like my whole motivation for building Facebook was so I could get girls, right? And they completely left out the fact that my girlfriend, I've been dating since before I started Facebook." On the bright side they were spot-on with his wardrobe, which counts for something.
The film did extremely well at the box office and it even won an Oscar. But Michael Over, aka the football player the movie is based on, wasn't impressed at all. He once admitted that the film has taken away from his football career and caused him to deal with a lot of unwanted criticism. And worst of all, the movie painted Sandra Bullock's character as the white savior who convinced Michael to get into football when that never actually happened. In fact, Michael was already passionate about the sport and being scouted before he met Leigh Anne Tuohy.
He explained: "I'm tired of the movie. Football is what got me here, and the movie, it wasn't me … The movie is great, it's very inspiring to tons of people all over the world, but the main problem I have is with the football part of it. Sports is all I had growing up, and the movie made me look like I didn't know anything."
Warner Bros. Pictures
It's a fascinating retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, especially since it focuses more on King Leonidas, who led the Spartans. However, there are countless things that this film got wrong. For one, there were definitely no rhinos or elephants involved, and Spartan soldiers didn't fight with so much exposed skin because they had full body armor. Also, unlike what the film suggests, the Spartans weren't the only group who went up against the Persians. But even with these inconsistencies (and mixed reviews) Zack Snyder's film turned out to be a major box office hit.
When Ray Manzarek, the real keyboardist for the band, watched this movie, he claimed that many parts were completely fabricated. He said: "[Jim Morrison] didn’t light Pam’s closet on fire. He didn’t throw a TV set at me. His student film didn’t have images from ‘Triumph of the Will.’ That was totally made up. And Jim never quit film school. He graduated from UCLA." The biggest inaccuracy, however, was how Jim himself was portrayed. Ray explained: "The film portrays Jim as a violent, drunken fool. That wasn’t Jim. When I walked out of the movie, I thought, ‘Geez, who was that jerk?'"
The Weinstein Company
The inspiring film shows how King George VI (aka Bertie) got over his speech impediment before publicly declaring war on Nazi Germany. After his brother abdicates the throne, he works closely with his speech therapist and is shown to have overcome his stammer, but this is a pretty simplified version of what really happened. See, Edward VIII wasn't just an annoyingly selfish person who wanted to marry a divorcee, he was also a supporter of fascism and quite friendly Adolf Hitler. Also, Winston Churchill was not supportive of Edward VIII abdicating the throne. In real life, he advised the Duke of York to do the opposite.
Open Road Films
A lot of fans and critics weren't satisfied with the film because they felt that it failed to honor the entrepreneur in the way he deserved to be. Yes, Ashton Kutcher's performance was impressive, but it was hard to ignore the fact that the film skipped vital moments and twisted certain parts of the story. Author Robert X. Cringely noted: "Something happened during Steve's NeXT years (which occupy less than 60 seconds of this 122-minute film) that turned Jobs from a brat into a leader, but they don't bother to cover that."
This 2015 biopic, which shed more light on Steve's relationship with his daughter, also had its shortcomings in terms of accuracy. Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple Inc., mentioned that he wasn't exactly satisfied with his character. He said: "The lines I heard spoken were not things I would say but carried the right message, at least partly." And Bill Atkinson, who worked at Apple for more than a decade, said: "That wasn't [Steve's] character, and the events didn't happen. You think of Jobs having a reality distortion field. I think of Aaron Sorkin as having ... a history distortion field." He also mentioned that the only thing the film got right was Kate Winslet's depiction of Joanna Hoffman.
Though the movie had a successful release, there were a few details that it got wrong about the history behind the rap group, N.W.A. The movie shows Eazy-E going to jail because he started a fight, but in reality, he landed in jail because of unpaid parking tickets. And as for how he got connected with Jerry Heller, the latter explained that it was Eazy-E who first approached him, unlike what the movie suggests. The contributions of Kim "Arabian Prince" Nazel, one of the group's founding members, was also largely ignored and the character was limited to just one uncredited cameo. Talk about unfair.
Sorry to burst your bubble, guys, but the real P.T. Barnum wasn't nearly as lovable and innocent as the version we saw in this film. Hugh Jackman gave the impression that the showman was a kind and sincere soul, but when the real P.T. Barnum first started out, he exploited people with genetic disorders by turning them into spectacles for public entertainment. Because of their physical abnormalities, they weren't even seen as human, and audiences unfortunately ate it up like candy. The film never mentions this darker side of the story because it completely changed the narrative to a feel-good musical. But hey, at least it turned out to be one of the most popular biopics this year!
Although it grossed over $106 million and received positive reviews, it was still criticized for its lack of accuracy. The original Untouchables group had not five, but 10 members, and it didn't just consist of white men. Also, that accountant who brought down Al Capone in the film? He didn't exist. It was Frank J. Wilson who discovered his tax evasion in real life. But one change worth pointing out is the scene where Al beat someone to death with a baseball bat. While it is true that he assaulted people with a bat on multiple occasions, he never went as far as murdering someone.
The historical drama follows the life of English mathematician Alan Turing, who, unlike in the film, was very open about being gay. But downplaying his sexual identity was just one of several changes that were made. Alan actually never had OCD, several characters in the movie never existed (including Inspector Nock), and the timeline was way off. On top of all that, Alan wasn't the only one who worked on the machine that broke the Germans’ Enigma code. It was technically a collaboration between him and fellow mathematician Gordon Welchman, who wasn't even included in the film.
Buena Vista Pictures
Yes, it's a Disney classic, but the fact that it romanticizes one of the most disturbing parts of history is... kinda problematic. Pocahontas, whose real name was Matoaka, was only about 10 or 11 years old when English soldier John Smith, who was 28, arrived with his group of settlers. There's no proof of a possible romance between the two, but Pocahontas was kidnapped and forced to marry another settler when she was just a teenager. Also, John Smith was not the sweet, blue-eyed stud we all fell for in the film. In real life he was authoritarian and had a very harsh personality.
To be fair, it's impossible to fit all the details of Alexander's life into one film. But even at nearly three hours long, a lot of its content wasn't factual. For instance, the Persians were portrayed as very disorganized and easy to defeat, but in real life, they were quite the opposite. Kaveh Farrokh, a Persian historian, said: "Greek forces are typically shown as very organized, disciplined, and so on, and what's very disturbing is when the so-called Persians are shown confronting the Macedonians, you see them turbaned. Turbans are not even a Persian item... What is not known is that the Persians actually had uniforms. They marched in discipline, and music was actually used."
In real life, John Forbes Nash Jr. abandoned his girlfriend after learning about her pregnancy, got arrested for indecent exposure and suffered a rocky marriage. Oddly enough, none of this actually made it to the film (what a nice way to sanitize his character). But on the plus side, it still received tons of praise because of its accurate portrayal of schizophrenia and mathematics.
This film deserves an award for 'Most Historically Inaccurate Biopic of All Time' because the vast majority of it is made up. It's way off from the very beginning, starting in the year 1276 when the First War of Scottish Independence actually started over two decades later. Also, Scottish warrior William Wallace was never given the nickname "Braveheart." It was Robert the Bruce who earned that title after his death because his heart was removed and buried in Scotland. To be honest, there are enough inaccuracies in this film to write an entire book.
The movie, which received over eight Academy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards, was meant to chronicle the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. However, it focused more on his supposed bitter rivalry with Italian composer, Antonio Salieri... Even though this was nothing more than a rumor. Historian Alex von Tunzelmann said: "Some fine research into Mozart's annoying personality doesn't really make up for the fact that the entire premise of this film – that Salieri loathed Mozart and plotted his demise – is probably not true."
The New Yorker's David Denby went as far as calling it "a liberal fairytale" that was "factually very thin," and for good reason. The movie is based on the life of American-Canadian boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who was wrongfully accused of murder. But the filmmakers took way too many liberties with this film. For instance, that scene where Rubin has a clear victory and still loses to his white opponent, Joey Giardello, is a total lie. In real life, Carter had the upper hand for five straight rounds, but then Joey gained control towards the end of the match and was named the winner (even Rubin agreed with the decision). Not surprisingly, Joey filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers for portraying his win as a "racist fix" and was paid damages.