TV and Movies·Posted on 30 Jun 202215 Films About Real People That Have Storylines That Were FabricatedArtistic license level: 100by Hanifah RahmanBuzzFeed StaffFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink 1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Sony Pictures Releasing While the film’s main characters – Dalton and Booth – are fictional, Tarantino weaved in real people, including members of the Manson family cult, Bruce Lee, and Sharon Tate. There are moments in the film that mirror real events, but at the end, Dalton and Booth foil the Manson family’s home invasion, saving Sharon Tate’s life. In reality, the pregnant actor and five of her houseguests were murdered. This retelling of true events wasn’t the only controversy of the film – fans and family members of Bruce Lee weren’t impressed with the film’s unflattering portrayal of him. 2. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Netflix The Academy Award-winning film is an adaptation of a play written by August Wilson, and centres around a fictionalised telling of the day the singer and her band recorded the song “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Ma Rainey was a real-life blues pioneer who heavily influenced the genre during her career in the ‘20s and ‘30s, but most of the film’s storylines and characters are fictional. Both Chadwick Boseman’s Levee and Ma’s girlfriend Dussie May are fictional characters, but their stories do have an aspect of reality. It was common for big labels to have white singers perform songs written by Black artists (often without royalties), and while Ma Rainey’s relationships aren’t documented, she openly referenced her bisexuality in songs. 3. The Greatest Showman 20th Century Fox Pretty loosely based on the life of Phineas Taylor Barnum, The Greatest Showman really leaned into the whole artistic licence thing. Barnum was a showman, but, going off on historical accounts, his shows probably weren’t the hub of self-acceptance that the musical makes out, but rather a place that exploited vulnerable people. Philip and Anne are completely fictional, and while Jenny Lind was a real opera singer, the entire storyline of her falling for Barnum is made up. 4. Cool Runnings Buena Vista Pictures Tal Stokes, a member of the real Jamaican bobsled team, summed up the film in a Reddit AMA, saying, “It’s a feature Disney film; not much in it actually happened in real life.” The team was comprised of rookies, but a lot of the plot points were fabricated – they weren’t athletes, but members of the army, and they were actually warmly welcomed at the ’88 Olympics. The crash scene was based on a real mishap, but most of the details – including the iconic moment where they carried the sled across the finish line – were works of fiction. 5. Pocahontas Buena Vista Distribution I’m sure we’re all well aware that Disney’s Pocahontas is far from a biopic, but it does have sprinklings of reality in it. Historical records show that Pocahontas was actually around 10 or 11 when she met the 27-year-old John Smith, and a romance was definitely NOT on the agenda. Other fictional plot lines? Well, Kocoum wasn’t killed by Thomas, and he later married Pocahontas. And although John Smith recounted that Pocahontas saved him from death, some historians believe that what he thought was his execution was actually an elaborate ceremony to commemorate the Powhatans' acceptance of him. 6. The King Netlix The King is based on Shakespeare’s Henriad, a group of historical dramatisations about the lives of English monarchs – I'm picturing the 15th-century equivalent of The Crown.A lot of what we saw in The King, including the Battle of Agincourt, the sharp haircut, and the father-son tensions, are rooted in fact, but there’s quite a bit of Shakespeare’s artistic licence in there too. Sir John Falstaff was one of Shakespeare’s original creations, thought to be an amalgamation of a few real people – a true blend of fact and fiction. 7. The Other Boleyn Girl Universal Pictures Mary Boleyn was the sister of Anne and was one of Henry VIII's mistresses. There are huge gaps in historical records from the 1500s, and this fictionalised telling of the other Boleyn sister definitely took creative liberties for dramatic effect. The film, which is an adaptation of a novel, shows Mary as Anne's naive, innocent, younger sister, but Mary was the older of the two, and there were rumours that she’d had an affair with King Francis I a few years before meeting Henry.In the film, Anne is pretty unlikeable, and while it is intense to marry your sister's side piece, modern historians have a different take. The Other Boleyn Girl shows Anne as an ambitious woman who used manipulation to seduce Henry, but his letters to her show a different story – he seemed to be doing the chasing while she avoided his advances. And even though Anne was executed for adultery, most historians agree that she was actually framed for the affairs. 8. Bombshell Lionsgate Bombshell was released in 2019, but it’s based on events that happened in 2016, so there’s a good chance you might remember hearing about the lawsuits against the Fox News CEO Roger Ailes at the time. The film’s story is based on the accounts of the women at Fox who set out to expose the sexual harassment, and what we see with two of the main characters – Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson – is a pretty accurate account of things (given the Hollywood treatment, of course).But when it comes to Margot Robbie’s character Kayla, things are a lot less rooted in fact. She wasn’t a real person, but her storyline does have some dark truth to it – Ailes really did have an employee who was responsible for luring young Fox employees into private one-to-one meetings with him. Given that Kayla was fictional, it’s safe to say that the entire secret hook-up plotline with Jess Carr (also fictional) was fabricated too. 9. Catch Me If You Can DreamWorks Pictures OK, so the main plot of this film is inspired by the almost unbelievable true story of Frank Abagnale Jr. and his life as a teenage con artist, but there are quite a few sprinklings of Hollywood magic thrown in. Most notably, a fictional fiancé and a fabricated storyline following Frank and his father. In the film, Frank Jr. spends his criminal career trying to gain his father's approval. In reality, the story's a little bit sadder – Frank Sr. wasn't a con man, and his son never saw him again after he ran away from home. 10. The Sound of Music 20th Century Fox So, the Von Trapp family were very much real, but that love story between Maria and Georg? Totally materialised for dramatic effect. In her autobiography, Maria revealed that she learned to love Georg after the nuns advised her to accept his proposal, writing, "I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn't love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way, I really married the children.” (Ouch, Georg.) They also escaped Austria by train, not by trekking over the Alps. 11. Blackkklansman Focus Features Ron Stallworth really was the first Black detective in Colorado Springs, and he really did infiltrate the KKK – the movie is based on his memoir, Black Klansman. The real story was pretty wild, but the film added in a few plots for extra flavour – Patrice was a fictional representation of real women who were involved in the Black Power movement, and the undercover case concluded with slightly less drama than the bomb explosion we see in the film. During the investigation, Stallworth and his partner stopped many KKK rallies and cross burnings, but there weren't any terrorist attacks attempted. 12. Anastasia 20th Century Fox OK, this one is a little complicated – the film merges a few different factual events and takes a lot of creative liberties. Anastasia Romanov was a real grand duchess – she was the youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia. Grigori Rasputin was also real, but unlike the movie tells us, he wasn’t an enemy to the Romanovs, but rather remained a royal advisor and their close friend up until he was killed in 1916 – two years before the family were assassinated by Bolshevik troops. After the events, Anastasia’s body wasn’t found, and many women claimed that they were her – most notably a woman who called herself Anna Anderson, and the film is loosely based on her story, which convinced lots of people. She maintained that she was Anastasia right up until her death in 1984, but DNA tests in the ‘90s confirmed that she wasn’t. 13. Girl, Interrupted Columbia Pictures Girl, Interrupted is based on a memoir by Susanna Kaysen, which recounted her experience living in a psychiatric hospital in the ‘60s, and she hated the film, describing it as “melodramatic drivel.” The genre of memoir isn’t particularly known for its riveting plots, and the movie took some creative liberties to move the narrative along. The movie version changed the diagnoses of some of the women on the ward, but the biggest fabrication is the breakout. In the film, sociopath Lisa convinces Susanna to escape the ward with her, and they crash the new apartment of Daisy, a recently released patient. But in reality, no such breakout took place – Susanna’s time on the ward and the relationships she developed there just weren’t all that theatrical. 14. Hamilton Disney+ So Lin-Manuel Miranda based the show on Ron Chernow’s thorough biography of Hamilton, so it’s safe to say that most of what happens onstage is rooted in fact. Most. While the account of Alexander’s life is pretty accurate, Lin threw in a couple of exaggerations to spice things up. The first is the whole love triangle between Alex, Eliza, and Anjelica. He did have a really close relationship with his wife’s older sister, writing tons of letters back and forth over the years, but “Satisfied” is basically fictional. Eliza was already married with kids when she met Alex, so even if they had been crushing on each other, it wasn’t exactly like he was the one that got away.And while Hamilton and Burr were rivals, some things were shifted a bit there, including the whole Reynolds scandal. The musical shows Burr confronting Hamilton with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, but the three of them didn’t have anything to do with the revelation of his affair (in reality, Hamilton was confronted by some other politicians who didn’t make it into the musical). 15. Zola A24 If you were on Twitter back in 2015 you’ll definitely remember #TheStory – an iconic 148-tweet story from a woman – A’Ziah ‘Zola’ King – who ended up on a wild (and terrifying) trip to Florida with some random girl and the girl’s boyfriend and her pimp. The main gist of what we saw in Zola follows the thread – Zola made friends with Jessica (Stefani in the film), who invited her on a road trip to Florida with her boyfriend. She was under the impression they were going there to strip, but it quickly became clear that Jessica/Stefani’s “friend” (pimp) expected them to do more.A month after becoming a viral sensation, Zola told Rolling Stone that she embellished some of the story to keep people hooked, saying, “I made people who probably wouldn’t want to hear a sex trafficking story want to be a part of it.” So what’s fictional? Well, Zola admitted that she made up the most violent parts – no one was killed, and Jessica’s boyfriend didn’t jump off the balcony. The accounts of everyone involved are all slightly different too, so it’s safe to say Zola reshaped some of the real events for extra dramatic effect. What "based on a true story" film is your favourite? Let us know in the comments!