Advertising a film as being “based on true events,” is an excellent way to encourage potential theater goers to spend their hard earned money to see real life unfold on the big screen. Theater goers love the idea of getting a glimpse into somebody’s extraordinary life, so it’s no wonder that many movies are branded as being, “based on a true story,” because let’s face it, a film is a hell of a lot more interesting when you know that it’s not all movie magic. Unfortunately, movies that claim to be based on real life may not always stick to the truth. Of course we know that every movie that’s based on real events gets a little bit of Hollywood embellishment, but sometimes embellishments to make a story more entertaining end up turning the film into a completely different story than what actually happened. So to dispel some lies that Hollywood likes to perpetuate, below are ten movies that claim to be based on true stories but are actually complete lies. These movies twisted the truth around so much that they ended up becoming a story that was almost unrecognizable from the original, yet the film still continues to be sold as a true story.
10. The Strangers (2009)
Claiming that the film The Strangers is “inspired by true events,” might be a bit of an overstatement. The film is about a young couple who is terrorized by, you guessed it, strangers. Although the film claims to be true, the inspiration for it actually came from a string of burglaries that occurred in the director’s neighborhood when he was a child. Of the burglaries the director said, “One night, while our parents were out, somebody knocked on the front door and my little sister answered it. At the door were some people asking for somebody who didn’t live there. We later found out that these people were knocking on doors in the area and, if no one was home, breaking into houses.” So as it turns out, the director’s story is a bit (a lot) different than the terrifying murders that take place in the film.
9. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The Pursuit of Happyness is about a struggling salesman who takes custody of his son, endures hardships and struggles, but is ultimately able to give himself and his son the lives they deserve. It’s a touching story but unfortunately a good majority of it is actually false. The main discrepancy between the real story and the film version is that in real life, Will Gardener (the main character in the film) wasn’t actually a nice guy. He wasn’t concerned where his son was when he was looking for a job, his son wasn’t born from his wife but his mistress, and worst of all, Gardener allegedly beat his wife on more than one occasion.
8. Rudy (1993)
Rudy is an uplifting film about a young man who overcomes numerous obstacles in order to fulfill his dream and play football at Notre Dame. In the film, the coach at Notre Dame named Dan Devine, does everything he can to stop Rudy from playing football. But in real life, Devine was actually a pretty awesome guy. He was even the one who convinced Rudy to play in the final game. To top it all off, nobody was really that inspired when Rudy finally got to play football at Notre Dame. It was actually Rudy himself who ended up pitching his story to studios for ten years before it was made into a movie.
7. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
A Beautiful Mind is a story about John Forbes Nash, a genius who spent his time working for the government and having hallucinations until he learns to live normally with his “beautiful mind.” There are a couple of big differences between the film version of Nash’s story and reality. First of all, Nash didn’t have hallucinations. He did hear voices sometimes but there were no full-fledged hallucinations of Paul Bettany or Ed Harris to be seen. Another difference between the film and real life is that in reality, Nash’s wife didn’t stick with him through everything. The couple actually divorced in 1963, a fact that the movie fails to mention.
6. Braveheart (1995)
Braveheart is a movie that has taken Hollywood creative embellishments to the extreme. Even though the movie claims to be “based on a true story,” there are tons of details in the film that don’t quite match up to the original story. First of all, Primae Noctis never actually existed, kilts weren’t even worn in the 13th century and to top it all off, Isabelle of France never even met William Wallace in real life. Although the screenwriter Randall Wallace of Braveheart has admitted to adding in a few extra embellishments to make the movie more entertaining, it seems like Wallace ended up creating an entirely new, albeit entertaining, story.
5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The idea that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a true story is enough to make anyone scream in terror. The horrifying movie is about a serial killer with a chainsaw who terrorizes five friends with the help of his cannibalistic family. Luckily for us the phrase “based on a true story,” seems to be applied very loosely in this case. The plot of the story is actually totally fictional. Apparently, the director of the movie, Tobe Hooper figured that if he marketed it as a true story, more people would go to see it. In addition, marketing the movie as a true story was Hooper’s way of responding to the Watergate scandal in the 70’s.
4. Good Morning Vietnam (1987)
Good Morning Vietnam is a movie about a DJ named Adrian Cronauer who continually voices his opposition to the war in Vietnam on the radio while playing some awesome music. In reality, things didn’t quite play out like this. The real life Cronauer has admitted that if he would have said even half of the things that Robin Williams says in the film, he would have been court-martialed. Another big difference between the film and reality is that Cronauer was never actually kicked out of the military. It turns out, Cronauer ended up finishing his tour and went home relatively quietly.
3. Flight (2012)
Flight stars Denzel Washington as Whip Whittaker, a pilot who flies a malfunctioning airliner that eventually crashes. Although the movie claims to be based on the 2000 Alaska Airlines Flight 261, there aren’t many more similarities between the two stories besides the fact that the two planes crashed. In the movie, Whittaker (a completely fictional character), flies the plane upside down to stabilize it and then the plane eventually crashes, but luckily only six people are killed. On the Alaska Airlines flight, the pilot tried, but failed, to turn the plane upside down. In addition, when the plane crashed in real life, everyone died.
2. The Hurricane (1999)
The Hurricane is a film about Rubin Carter, a boxer who is wrongly accused of a triple homicide as a result of a racist system, until 20 years later, key evidence that proves he is innocent is presented to the court and he is set free. In real life, Carter wasn’t as innocent as the movie makes him out to be. By 14, Carter had been arrested for both assault and armed robbery. And when it comes to the three murders that Carter was acquitted of, things are a bit more complicated than the movie plays them out to be. First of all, there was a lot of evidence that proved Carter committed the crimes, then there was the fact that several people who had provided Carter with his alibi eventually admitted that they’d been lying, and there wasn’t actually any evidence that proved Carter was innocent. It turns out, Carter was acquitted of the murders because the prosecution didn’t turn over some evidence and the judge was forced to throw out the conviction.
1. The Perfect Storm (2000)
The Perfect Storm is a movie about the crew of the Andrea Gail and their deadly encounter with “the Perfect Storm.” The film uses the real names of the people on the actual Andrea Gail and the fact that the Andrea Gail set sail and never came back is true, but besides that, everything else is made up. The supposedly “true story” is actually a combination of different stories from the book True Stories, by Sebastion Junger. To put it a bit more clearly, everything that happened to the fisherman in The Perfect Storm actually happened to different people. So basically the true story of the crew of the Andrea Gail is nothing more than fiction.
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