1. Pearl Harbor
Michael Bay’s 2001 feature omitted the fact that the U.S. was issued several hours of warning before the attack occurred.
Although the movie spends significant time exploring the theory that rival composer Salieri was plotting Mozart’s demise, historians later sorted out that it was a smear story spread by hearsay to stir up the rivalry between the German and Italian schools of classical music.
Oliver Stone’s film hones in heavily on conspiracy theory, including the portrayal of an assassination suspect confessing he was involved in the Kennedy murder plot. In real life, that suspect – David Ferrie – passed a lie detector test that validated his innocence.
4. Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Ivan The Terrible is portrayed as a potential suitor for the queen in the film. However, the film takes place in 1585 – Ivan was already dead in real life.
5. Chariots of Fire
The film portrays devout Christian athlete Eric Liddell fretting over a 100M race taking place on a Sunday, restricting his participation. History, however, proved Liddell knew about the event dates months in advance, enabling him to prepare for the 400M race instead.
6. Black Hawk Down
Ridley Scott’s film portrays U.S. forces in the Somalian Battle of Mogadishu as if they were acting alone; but when the actual plot to take down an evil war lord took place, it was in conjunction with Malaysian and Pakistani troops, too.
7. Cold Mountain
Although the film portrays Jude Law’s character – W.P. Inman – as having deserted the Civil War one time, he was actually arrested for leaving his post twice. His journey back is also strange. Facts show the hospital he fled was 250 miles from Cold Mountain, yet the film shows him hitting the Atlantic Ocean, which was significantly out of the way from his final destination.
8. A Beautiful Mind
The film shows John Nash suffering from visual hallucinations, when in real life, they were all auditory. He also never gave a Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
History showed that Emperor Commodus was not as terrible of a person as he was portrayed in the film (by Joaquin Phoenix). He ruled for almost a decade – not months – and didn’t kill his father. Marcus Aurelis died of chicken pox. Also, Commodus didn’t die in the arena. He was murdered while taking a bath.
The 2012 Best Picture winner fell victim to criticism for downplaying Canada’s involvement in helping the American hostages escape from Iran. While the film relied heavily on portraying the CIA steering the operation, Canada was intimately involved on the ground – from scouting people-moving patterns in the airport, to purchasing the plane tickets, to coaching the hostages on their Canadian accents.