11 Events That Weren’t True in Based-on-a-True-Story Movies
In order to make a movie based on a real story, directors often have to research the subject so well that it takes them many years. But it’s quite common for the real events to be changed, for characters to move to different places, and for some facts to remain untold by directors.
Bright Side has found 11 movies based on true events where directors deliberately changed the reality.
1. Catch Me If You Can
The story about a genius criminal Frank Abagnale who could forge documents. The best minds of the FBI were trying to catch Frank but he was always one step ahead.
- The real Frank Abagnale hasn’t seen his father since he escaped from home. Steven Spielberg deliberately changed this fact. The director thought it was important to show this connection between the father and the son “when Frank was trying to do things to make his father proud of him.” The real Frank loved this idea and he supported the director.
- When Abagnale was in jail, he managed to steal and forge his own documents. He pretended to be an undercover FBI agent. This allowed him to win the trust of the governor of the prison and Abagnale escaped from the prison under the pretense of having to meet another FBI agent outside. Spielberg decided not to include this episode in the movie. Maybe, he didn’t want to hurt the image of the FBI which was already bad enough after the Abagnale’s case.
The film is about an Eastern European man Viktor Navorski who becomes stuck in New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport terminal when he is denied entry into the United States and cannot return to his native country because of a military coup.
- The movie is based on the story of an Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri. He was banished from his own country for his political speeches against the government. The man’s documents were stolen at the airport in Paris and he had to spend 18 years living in the terminal.
- After the documents were restored, Mehran didn’t want to leave the airport. But in 2006, he was hospitalized urgently. After he was discharged from the hospital, Mehran lived in a hotel near the airport and later bought an apartment in Paris. In the movie, the character got a one-day US visa and the war in his country ended so he flew home.
3. The Untouchables
This is a comedy-drama about the friendship between Philippe, who is in a wheelchair, and his assistant Driss, an ex-con.
The prototype of Driss was an Arabic man from Algeria, Abdel Sellou, who had to leave his parents at the age of 4 and move to France to live with his relatives. When he was 23 years old, he found a job taking care of the wealthy Philippe.
The director of the movie decided not to include some of the things Abdel did in reality. For example, when Philippe’s nephew turned 18, Abdel invited a stripper to the party. Phillippe was furious.
Abdel used Phillippe’s incredibly big car collection and once he crashed his Jaguar. All that is left of the car is the key.
Sellou himself says that he doesn’t really look like the guy in the movie. Unlike Omar Sy, “he is a tough man who dances badly.”
4. Eddie the Eagle
This story teaches people to pursue their goals no matter what. Eddie Evans is a British skier. Since he was 10 years old, he dreamt of participating in the Winter Olympic Games. But many people didn’t understand him, the Olympic Committee doesn’t support him, and he took only the last places in all of the competitions.
- The real Eddie Evans is the first person from Great Britain who took part at ski jumping in the Winter Olympics. Unlike the movie character, Eddie had some experience: he did stunt jumping over cars and buses and he did mountain skiing.
- Eddie has a younger sister to whom he donated his bone marrow for a surgery.
- He spent some time in a Finnish psychiatric hospital because he didn’t have any other place to live. The hospital was the place where he found out that he was qualified for the Olympic Games.
5. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
A college professor finds a cute Akita Inu dog at a railway station. The dog followed the owner to the station every morning and met him there every evening. But one time, the professor didn’t return.
The story about the loyal dog Hachi actually happened in Japan. An agriculture professor was presented an Akita Inu puppy whom he named Hachi which means “the 8th.” The professor already had 7 dogs and Hachi was the eighth.
There is a Hachi monument which was made when Hachi was alive. The Japanese were so moved by the story of the dog that after his death, there was an official mourning in the country.
Dunkirk is a French commune. The movie tells a story of how British soldiers were saved at the beginning of the Second World War. The soldiers were surrounded by enemies on the beach of Dunkirk.
- Dunkirk was one of the most important movies of 2017. But even though the creators tried to make it absolutely historically correct, there are still a few mistakes. In one of these scenes, an officer salutes without his hat which is a violation of the rules.
- In the movie, you can see a lot of French and Indian soldiers, but there were actually very few of them.
- Dunkirk had been destroyed before the beginning of the operation.
7. We Bought a Zoo
This movie shares the story of a widowed father named Benjamin Mee who purchases a dilapidated zoo with his family and takes on the challenge of preparing the zoo for its reopening to the public. Benjamin’s friends and family help him with this difficult task.
- To make the movie more appealing to Western viewers, the story of the family was moved from a small town in the southwest of England to the US.
- In the movie, the main character’s son can’t get used to life in the zoo and he wants to move to the city. In reality, Dylan was only 6 years old at that time and the father-and-children situation was made up by the director.
- In real life, the wife of the main character died after the family purchased the zoo and started living there. And it wasn’t so easy to buy the zoo. The real Benjamin spent 2 years trying to do so. The family hadn’t had any experience taking care of exotic animals.
8. Dallas Buyers Club
This Oscar-winning movie was based on the real story of the electrician Ron Woodroof who was using non-standard medications to fight AIDS. He set up a business selling the medications to other sick people.
- The movie character is different from the real person. Woodroof had a wife, a daughter, and a sister. None of them was mentioned in the movies.
- Woodroof himself wasn’t as rude as his character and he didn’t have any serious conflicts with other people.
- Some of the characters are the collective images of the people Ron knew.
9. Hidden Figures
3 African American women Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary make mathematical calculations for NASA. The girls were discriminated against on racial and gender grounds.
- Even if we don’t pay attention to the technical problems, such as the impossible construction of the spaceships and the calculation mistakes, there are still many changes. In fact, the department where the main characters worked was closed at the end of the 1950s. The structure of NASA was simplified in the movie and the time period was reduced.
- The director exaggerated the racial discrimination that the characters had to deal with. In fact, one of the characters, Mary, didn’t have to go to court to have the right to get a special education. In fact, Mary only needed special permission from the Mayor. The real characters didn’t experience any racial discrimination at work — they talked about this a lot in their interviews.
10. The Revenant
The experienced hunter Hugh Glass is seriously injured after a fight with a bear. 2 hunters, John Fitzgerald, Jim Bridger, and his son Hawk stay with him. Fitzgerald kills Hawk and leaves Hugh for dead in the winter forest.
- Even though the movie is based on a true story, there are a few mistakes. For example, the fight scene with the bear actually happened in the summer.
- Some events didn’t happen. There is no evidence that Hugh slept in animal corpses. And the murder of the son is not true. Glass didn’t have children at all.
- The revenge scene is not true, either. Hugh Glass really did catch up with John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger but he forgave both of them.
Bonus: The Wolf of Wall Street
Jordan Belfort is a successful stockbroker. He spends a lot of time partying, he drinks a lot of alcohol, and takes drugs. But the never-ending celebration ends when Jordan catches the attention of the FBI.
When the real Jordan Belfort was asked if Martin Scorsese had added anything that wasn’t true about the main character’s life, he said that the director had even downplayed the reality. In fact, it was much worse! What exactly was worse and by how much, Belfort didn’t say. And it looks like we will never find out.
Should directors deliberately change the facts in movies based on true events? Or should they show the story exactly the way it happened? We would like to know your opinion!