The movies on this list are said to be based on true events and stories, but their directors have taken extreme liberties while making them in order to make them more entertaining to watch. Now, this does not mean these movies are bad, far from it in fact, only that they did not stay true to history. Take a look below for our list of 10 of the most historically inaccurate movies ever made.
1. 10,000 B.C.
Historians say ‘10,000 BC’ is the most historically inaccurate movie ever, that alone should warrant this movie’s place on this list. This movie showcases many inventions and concepts that were created much later like the use of steel which actually came in 1800 B.C. and cities, thousands of years before agriculture was even a thing. Not to mention the use of mammoths to build monuments.
Disney loves to embellish stories, and understandably so, but the stories from which they base their movies often tell a much different story, like Pocahontas. For starters, Pocahontas and John Smith are depicted as adults in this film, but Pocahontas was only 10 years old when European ship reached the new world. In real life, the two were never in a love relationship and the real Pocahontas was married off to an English man, renamed Rebecca and died at the age of 22.
In real life, King Leonidas and his small army of Spartans did fight against a much higher number of Persians, except there were actually 7000 Spartans soldiers and not the mere 300 people have been led to believe. Another historical inaccuracy in this film is the clothes the soldiers wore. In real life they would have covered their chests with armor instead of leaving it wide open for attack (and for everyone to gaze upon their six packs). Elephants were also not used on the battlefield. The way Spartan society is represented in the film is also not historically accurate overall.
Gladiator is a very entertaining movie, but it is filled with historical inaccuracies, like the idea that an emperor could have given imperial power to an army general, completely unthinkable. The relationship between the emperor and his son Commodus is also not accurately depicted, because the real Commodus never killed his father to take the throne and was actually co-ruler with his father until the latter’s death. Speaking of death, the real Commodus wasn’t killed by Russell Crow’s Maximus, but was instead murdered in his bath 12 years after his ascension to the throne.
Braveheart is a very good movie which follows William Wallace, a 13th century Scottish warrior who begins a revolt against King Edward I of England. It is full of historical inaccuracies such as a heavily altered timeline as well as inaccurate battle scenes as the film depicts armies haphazardly running into the enemy rather than actual tactical warfare. The movie also sees the Scotsmen wearing their famous kilts, just 300 years too early.
6. The Last Samurai
The Last Samurai’s premise is historically accurate. Japan was undergoing major cultural changes during the late 1860s, and the Emperor was indeed regarded as a “living God.” The story between the characters however is fabricated, Americanized and couldn’t be further from the truth. For starters, Tom Cruise’s character, Nathan Algren, is based on a real French officer named Jules Brunet who served the Tokugawa shogunate during the Boshin War in Japan and Japan never had Americans as war consultants. The movie also doesn’t portray the rebellion correctly as most samurai did not rebel, and it wasn’t “right vs wrong” as many of the samurai who rebelled wanted to preserve their privileged way of life.
As an action movie, this movie is pretty good, but not as a history lesson. The movie follows American soldiers during WW2 as they board the German submarine U-571 to get their hands on the German’s enigma cipher machine. For starters, the U-571 was never captured. Secondly, these events happened months before the Americans joined the war, meaning they had absolutely nothing to do with this. In real life, this was a British operation.
8. Pearl Harbor
The fact that Japan did attack Pearl Harbor in the second world war is pretty much the only thing this movie gets right in terms of accuracy. The rest is dramatized.
Many liberties were taken in the making of this movie, something many people who were involved in the real life events have pointed out themselves. The premise of the movie in which the CIA establishes a fake movie production, complete with a full script and ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, in order to rescue six Americans stranded in post-revolutionary Iran, is very much true. The most criticized part of the film is how they represent the involvement of Canada in saving the lives of the six Americans. Canada did in fact play a huge role in saving them, and received all the credit afterwards, but the movie completely downplays it. The worst part is the movie’s climax which sees the six Americans go to the airport in order to escape Iran. They face many obstacles and almost get caught in the movie, the opposite of what happened in real life as their escape actually went smoothly.
10. The Patriot
Another very good movie starring Mel Gibson, which is also full of historical inaccuracies, the biggest one being the way the British soldiers are being portrayed. The British are nothing more than cruel, murderous villains, something that is far from the truth and only adds drama.