8 'true story' films that changed massive facts about what happened

  • 8 'true story' films that changed massive facts about the truth

We all understand that when it comes to biopics, filmmakers take some artistic liberties with the stories in order to make things more dramatic, streamline the story, or add some much-needed drama when there wasn't any.

But we trust that the real life tale of the people the story is based on reflects the events that we're viewing on the big screen.

However, it turns out that sometimes, crucial and important facts are completely altered, or made-up for our entertainment.

8. Hacksaw Ridge - Desmond Doss' war heroics were downplayed

Most biopics fabricate moments or amp up true stories for dramatic effect, but the story of pacifist Desmond Doss' service during Battle of Okinawa had to be dialled down in his biopic, as audiences wouldn't believe what really happened.

During the 82-day WWII battle in Japan, Desmond Doss (played by Andrew Garfield) rescued 50-100 critically injured US troops, and one of the tales that didn't make it into the film was when Doss stood on a grenade and was sent flying into the air - his life (and limbs) miraculously saved by his thick-soled boots, only to be shot in the arm by a sniper and after that he still got off a stretcher to allow another seriously injured troop to be taken to be treated.

Dross' son explained that director Mel Gibson reasoned why he had to remove some of the more incredible moments: "He told me: ‘Your father’s story is so damn unbelievable already that if you added any more to it audiences would say 'we ain’t buying it!’

7. Birth of a Nation - Nat Turner never had a wife that got raped

Nate Parker wrote, directed and starred in the story of slave and preacher Nat Turner, who in 1831 believed that God had selected him to free his people, and orchestrated an uprising of his fellow slaves.

One of the film's defining moments, which sets the rebellion in motion - and helps get the audience behind Turner's rebellion - was when Turner's wife is raped by a group of white men.

In real life, there are no historical reports of Turner acknowledging having a wife in any of his writings, and that his rebellion was incited by spiritual visions that came to the preacher.

Historians have stated that Turner started the uprising when in one of his visions, he saw a holy war and believed that he was commanded to take up arms against his oppressors.

6. Gladiator - gladiators weren't slaves

For his historical epic, director Ridley Scott went on record to state that he would be as historically accurate as possible and hired several historians to serve as advisers.

Scott then decided to disregard the promised accuracy, prompting one adviser to quit and another to have her name removed from the credits.

Their main issue was how Roman gladiators were portrayed as slaves and cannon fodder while real Roman gladiators were well treated by their masters.

Roman gladiators were trained well and would fight around thirty bouts over a five or six-year contract, would very rarely die in combat, and once their contract was finished they could retire on their earnings, which was usually enough money to buy land.

Another fact that Scott disregarded was that the old, wise emperor Marcus Aurelius, who in the film was killed by his villainous son Commodus, wasn't murdered; and for the last three years of his life jointly ruled Rome with his son.

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5. Rush - the two F1 drivers weren't enemies

The 2013 story which recounted the intense and fiery rivalry between 1970s Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda was well-received and nominated for many awards, while Daniel Brühl and Chris Hemsworth's depictions were praised for their authenticity.

So much so, that when Lauda first saw the film, he exclaimed "Sh*t! That's really me!"

There was, however, one quite large creative liberty that the filmmakers took with the story - while they were direct rivals on the track, the pair were good friends behind the scenes.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Lauda revealed that the pair would go out in London together, and would occasionally spend the night in Hunt's flat, "but not together. There were four of us," the driver added with a wink.

4. The Blind Side - Michael Oher wasn't an unskilled giant

Sandra Bullock won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in The Blind Side as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a woman who takes in a homeless teenager, and then helps him pursue his dreams to become an NFL star.

In the film, Tuohy does everything to help her adopted son, the lumbering uneducated Michael Oher to follow his interest in American Football, including getting him a tutor to improve his grades to be eligible for a college scholarship.

The real life Oher, who was a first-round draft pick in the NFL, was angry about his depiction of him as a hulking idiot in a similar way to the simple yet gifted Forrest Gump.

Oher felt that the movie should have been the story of a young man who used his brains and dedication to rise from poverty to build a great life for himself, rather than a white woman teaching a simple-minded giant to use his destructive power for good.


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3. Good Morning, Vietnam - the DJ wasn't anti-war and did no on-air comedy skits

Robin Williams played Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) DJ Adrian Cronauer in the 1987 comedy drama as the anti-war Cronauer angers and infuriates his seniors with his on-air skits, jokes and playing of rock music to entertain US troops during the Vietnam war.

The real life Adrian Cronauer pitched his experiences as a sitcom, but was rebuffed by uninterested TV networks, he then revamped it as a TV movie before Robin Williams showed an interest and it was rewritten into the popular comedy-drama.

Thanks to Williams' famous improv skills and screenwriter Mitch Markowitz's rewrites, Cronauer has stated that the film is roughly 45% accurate, with some glaring differences from his experiences as a Vietnam AFRS DJ.

For starters, Cronauer describes himself as a "lifelong card-carrying Republican", rather than Williams' anti-war character, and that his broadcasts were little, if any, comedy routines.

While Cronauer did play rock music, it was on the station's playlist, explaining that just about everything Williams does in the film would have gotten him court-martialled in a heartbeat.

2. Sully - the pilot's reputation was never called into question

Clint Eastwood directed the story about Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger masterfully landing his Airbus A320 plane on New York's Hudson River when both engines failed after striking a flock of birds.

In the film, The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) criticise Sully's decision by running simulations that show that the pilot put everyone in danger, as the plane could have landed at two nearby airports despite the engines failing.

In real life, the NTSB's investigation was standard practice and that the simulations found that Sully could not have landed at the airports.

Eastwood used his creative licence to add drama (and a villain) to his story, but Robert Benzon, the now-retired head of the investigation, stated: "The treatment of the NTSB went very far beyond cinematic license into simple mean-spirited dishonesty. The movie may actually be detrimental to aviation safety."

1. Cool Runnings - the Jamaicans' fellow athletes were supportive

The much-loved 1993 comedy tells the real-life tale of four Jamaicans who enter the 1988 Olympic Winter Games as a four-man bobsled team.

The team are trained by former bobsled gold medalist who was disgraced for cheating and face open hostility by their Olympic rivals, most notably from the East German bobsled team.

In reality, the underdog team were met with open arms by their fellow bobsledding teams, and their East German 'rivals' actually lent the Jamaicans a backup sled and coached them in order for them to qualify.

Also, after sponsors laughed at their Winter Olympics idea, the Jamaicans have to raise the money for their trip to Calgary through various wacky means, but in real life, the team travelled to the Olympics on corporate funding.

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