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Historically Inaccurate Movies

Renuka Savant
For years now, Hollywood has churned out some epic historical movies. Entertaining as they may be, they never fall short of creative histrionics, all under the innocent name of history. Hey, when it's Hollywood, facts get replaced with fiction before you can even yell 'blooper'!
History has always been Hollywood's favorite subject. They spend tons of money making historicals - they hire top-notch directors, front-line graphic designers, and all the big actors under one roof. After all, who doesn't love a lavish history lesson?
So when the final credits start rolling on the screen at the end of a movie, it's our cue to get back to the humdrum of our life - some of us make dinner plans, some of us like to go straight to sleep, but there are others who immediately start to dig out the obvious creative liberties taken by the script writers.
This is what the vigilant brigade's brought for you...

List of Historically Inaccurate Movies

Braveheart (1995)

This movie is based on the story of Scotsman William Wallace and his role in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward of England.
Bloopers: In Braveheart, the main character of William Wallace was shown to have led the Scottish crusade against the British authorities. William Wallace's character as depicted in the movie had a relationship with Princess Isabella of France, who also bore him a child.
The character of Robert the Bruce was shown to be fighting alongside the English in the Battle of Falkirk. The Prince of Wales, who went on to become King Edward II, was portrayed as an effeminate and weak person.
History Says: The real William Wallace had traces of Scottish nobility in his blood, he wasn't a commoner as shown in the movie. Princess Isabella of France was around two years old when the Battle of Falkirk was fought, not the grown woman that she was according to the movie.
Robert the Bruce was never a part of the Battle of Falkirk and King Edward II's character was exaggerated in order to achieve a more dramatic effect.

Gladiator (2000)

The Roman General, Maximus Decimus Meridius is made a slave, after having his family killed and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius' murder. Maximus rises to become a gladiator, and seeks his revenge from the Emperor's treacherous son, Commodus.
Bloopers: In the film, Emperor Commodus was shown to have killed his father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius. His character's reign also does not last long as he was shown to have been killed in the gladiatorial arena by the main character Maximus.
History Says: Emperor Commodus' reign lasted for a good thirteen years before he was strangled in his bath by Narcissus. His father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius died of illness (plague, most probably). Allusions of Commodus' character being incestuous are also incorrect.

The Patriot (2000)

This is the story of an American man pulled into the American Revolutionary War when he sees his family in trouble. The lead character of Benjamin Martin is inspired from actual Continental Army officers, Francis Marion, Nathanael Greene, Andrew Pickens, and others.
Bloopers: As the character was loosely inspired by Francis Marion, it was expected that the makers show him to be a slave owner. In fact, the concept of slavery itself was ignored by the makers of the film. British troops were shown to have killed prisoners of war, burnt a church full of civilians and committed other horrendous atrocities.
History Says: Slavery was rampant in those times, and the real Francis Marion was known to be a slave owner. The depiction of the British troops and the crimes they committed had an uncanny resemblance to those of the Nazis in WWII, which is a very glaring exaggeration.
The image of the British was a far cry from reality according to most historians, who say that the scale of violence shown in the movie was stretched beyond imagination.

10,000 BC (2008)

Set in the prehistoric era, this film is about a young hunter who travels to far away lands in order to protect his tribe.
Bloopers: The construction of the Egyptian Pyramids was included in this film. The makers showed the use of trained mammoths in the construction of the Pyramids.
History Says: The historical inaccuracy in this movie was that the construction of the Egyptian Pyramids, with the Benben stone on top was shown approximately 7500 years too early. Geographically speaking, the movie shows a rainforest at the base of snowy mountains, with a desert in the vicinity, which are obvious inaccuracies, as they are natural anomalies.

Apocalypto (2006)

As the Sun sets on the Maya Empire, the rulers decide that the only way to survive is by offering human sacrifices to please the Gods. This is the story of a young man held captive for such a sacrifice.
Bloopers: The Maya tribes were shown to be blood-thirsty, uncouth and unhygienic people who indulged in grotesque brutalities. Mass sacrifices were attributed to the Maya tribes as well.
History Says: While the overall depiction of the Maya tribes seemed botched-up, the sacrifices shown were more in line with the Aztec civilization. Positive references to the Maya tribes were scant. Their scientific, agricultural, artistic and spiritual achievements were completely ignored.

Pearl Harbor (2001)

This film tells us the story of two friends, Rafe and Danny, and their love interest, set against the backdrop of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Bloopers: The cinematic version had us believe that the Japanese Zero fighter aircraft were green in color. Also, Admiral Kimmel was shown to be playing a game of golf as the news of the Japanese attack reached him. In fact, several inaccurate depictions of naval fleets and army guidelines were scattered throughout the film.
History Says: The Japanese Zero fighters were gray in color, and Admiral Kimmel was only scheduled to play a round of golf that morning, which he canceled when he heard of the unfortunate attack.
Several other liberties taken by the makers raised questions, and the National Geographic Channel even made a documentary called Beyond the Movie: Pearl Harbor which highlighted them.

Amadeus (1984)

This is the story of the musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told through the eyes of his one-time rival, Antonio Salieri.
Bloopers: The whole plot of the film was centered on Antonio Salieri as the antagonist and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Mozart's death.

History Says: Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Mozart were rivals, but the supposed hatred that Salieri was shown to have for Mozart was far from true. While as per historians, Mozart and Salieri were never on back-slapping terms, they were not sworn enemies either.

U-571 (2000)

A WWII story, it tells us about the capture of a German submarine by American troops.
Blooper: Set in 1942, this movie tells us that the Americans daringly captured the U-571 German U-boat to take over their enigma cipher machine.
History Says: The real U-571 was never captured, neither was it a part of any such event. It was sunk by the Royal Australian Air Force flying boat off the coast of Ireland. The U-570 too was not captured by the Americans.
It was the British Royal Navy who did it in the actual in 1941, even before the Americans had entered WWII. They also destroyed all the classified material found inside.

Alexander (2004)

Alexander, the King of Macedonia sets out to conquer the world. This movie chronicles the life of the great military leader.
Bloopers: The film's climax shows the Battle of Hydaspes (on the banks of the river Jhelum) in which Alexander was crucially wounded by an arrow. Even the setting of this historic battle, bright and sunny as shown in the movie, is the exact opposite of what actually happened.
History Says: In reality, Alexander was injured by an arrow later that year in the siege against the Malhi (near the present-day city of Multan in Pakistan) in a different battle. The Battle of Hydaspes in fact, was fought on a dark, rainy night.

Robin Hood (2010)

In this film, Robin Hood and his cronies battle the corrupt royals and keep the French from launching an invasion on England.
Bloopers: Yes, the character of Robin Hood is exempt from all historical inaccuracies, being somewhat of a legend himself, but King Philip Augustus of France was a real person who didn't actually want to invade England, as shown in the film.
History Says: King Philip Augustus just fought to win what he thought belonged to France from the Plantagenets, and those territories were in continental Europe.
Inaccuracies are an inseparable part of Hollywood historicals. Movies like 300 (2007), Spartacus (1960), Troy (2004), King Arthur (2004), The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), Marie Antoinette (2006), Pocahontas (1995) are further examples of how history gets pushed into the background in order to make way for entertainment.
This list had some of the most prominent historical snafus on celluloid, but it certainly can't hold all of them. Hollywood is too prolific, you see. Do make sure you put up a list of your own!