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10 True Story Movies That Lied to Us

by Jeffrey Morris
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

We love movies based on true stories because a part of us feels that we can relate to them. This is why several movie producers tend to pursue making movies based on true stories. However, while the movie industry has given us several true story movies that were accurate to detail, like 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Downfall (2004), our wishes do not always come true regarding true story movies.

There have been fact-based movies with minor inaccuracies, and there have been ones that were grossly inaccurate compared to real-life events that you wish were not made at all. These are ten true story movies that lied to us.

Related: 10 Movie Trailers That Gave Away Too Much

10 Argo (2012)

Argo Fudged Facts I The Feed

Argo is a 2012 American historical drama thriller film directed and produced by Ben Affleck. The film was released to critical acclaim and told the story of how the Canadian government and the CIA teamed up to carry out a daring rescue mission in Iran.

In 1979, the Iranian Revolution led to a tumultuous period in Iran’s history, marked by the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian militants stormed the embassy, taking 52 Americans hostage. The captors demanded the extradition of the deposed Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had sought refuge in the United States. The hostage crisis lasted for 444 days, creating a diplomatic standoff between Iran and the U.S.

The rescue mission was based on the ruse that an Irish film producer from a fake production company was scouting for locations for a sci-fi movie in Iran. All the while, the main plan of the operation was to allow the phony movie producer and film crew to take a flight out of Iran while pretending to be shooting a movie.

The movie Argo is important because it tells the story of a true-life rescue mission, but the movie producers consciously changed many details. In the movie, all six diplomats were shown to be hiding in Canadian diplomat Ken Taylor’s home, but in reality, the diplomats were divided and hid in multiple homes. Moreover, an important Canadian diplomat, John Sheardown, who played a major role in the rescue mission, was not even mentioned in the movie.

The climax of the film includes a chase at the airport and the crisis with Iranian immigration as they exited the country; these were also all fiction and did not happen in real life. Many elements were inserted into the movie for the sake of climatic tension at the expense of historical accuracy.[1]

9 American Sniper (2014)

American Sniper | Based on a True Story

American Sniper is a 2014 American biographical war drama film that is loosely based on the memoir American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. The movie is based on the life of Chris Kyle, who became the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills from four tours in the Iraq War.

We expect a film of this nature to be as accurate as possible, but there were significant changes for the sake of effect. In the opening scene, Kyle watches a mother and a son carrying a grenade toward a U.S. Marine convoy and is forced to kill the child. This never happened in real life.

In the movie, Mustafa, who was Kyle’s mortal enemy and who took up a large portion of the movie’s plot, was an exaggeration of the movie makers. He was barely mentioned in Kyle’s memoir, and Kyle never got into a showdown with Mustapha in Iraq, as portrayed in the movie. There was another antagonist of Kyle in the movie. He was known as “The Butcher.” He is a complete creation of fiction. The movie also inflated the bounty on Kyle’s head, among many other obvious inaccuracies.[2]

8 Rush (2013)

Niki Lauda: “Rush” movie was 80% right

Rush is a 2013 biographical sports film centered on the rivalry between two Formula One drivers—the Briton James Hunt and the Austrian Niki Lauda—during the 1976 motor-racing season. The problem with this movie is that it has several inconsistencies that make it impossible to call it a movie based on a true story.

To start with, some things in the film are exaggerated. James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) had a bitter on-track rivalry in the 1970s. However, the two were not rivals off-track—they even shared a flat in London for some time. Contrary to what the film portrayed, James Hunt and Niki Lauda never raced each other in Formula 3.

The movie also had a scene where James Hunt beat up a reporter. This never happened. The Baloney Meeting, the final meeting as portrayed in the movie, where the two finally shake hands and put their differences aside, was also faked. It didn’t happen in real life, as they were always friends. Our verdict is that this movie should not be called a biographical film. Unfortunately, that is what it is.[3]

7 The Hurt Locker (2008)

GREEN BERET Reacts to The Hurt Locker | Beers and Breakdowns

The Hurt Locker is a 2008 American war thriller film that tells the story of an Iraq War Explosive Ordinance Disposal team who were targeted by insurgents. While The Hurt Locker was marketed as a movie inspired by true events, it has gained a notorious reputation for its inaccuracy among veterans. Several veterans criticized the film for its unrealistic scenes, for instance, having a person defuse a bomb with wire cutters. This is an outdated method; the military would usually use robots.

In addition, the bomb disposal teams did not wear protective gear, which is against the standards. In fact, there was a particular scene where an American soldier snuck off the base to get revenge by beating up locals. This action would likely have led to a discharge from the military in real life. The technical errors were one too many that even the uniforms, equipment, and vehicles used by American soldiers were wrongly portrayed in some scenes in the movie.[4]

6 The Conjuring (2013)

Film Theory: The TRUE STORY of The Conjuring Horror Movies – What REALLY Happened?

The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film. It is the inaugural film in The Conjuring franchise and is based on the true life story of the Perron family, who moved into the house in 1971 and said they began experiencing paranormal phenomena. Andrea Perron, the oldest daughter, who was a teenager during the events at the house, reported the family’s story in a series of three books in 2011.

The climactic basement exorcism scene did not happen, though Perron describes a similar scene in her books. A séance, not an exorcism, was held in a first-floor room next to Roger and Carolyn Perron’s bedroom. According to the book, Perron was levitated during the séance and thrown into an adjoining room. However, the movies focus more on the investigators brought in to investigate.

Enter the demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. And they definitely did not play as large a role in real life. Another problem with the movie is that it presented the Warrens as genuine people who have had real paranormal experiences. However, the consensus from all historians is that they were frauds.

One of the key claims that brought them to fame has been discovered to be an elaborate hoax. We are referring to the alleged Amityville haunting. The movie portrayed it as a genuine real-life experience, but no serious investigator has been able to find evidence of hauntings in the Amityville house in the real world.

In fact, there have been lawsuits questioning the truthfulness of the Amityville haunting. Also, the issue of the “Annabelle” doll was wrongly portrayed in the movie. Nearly everyone has stated that it is an elaborate hoax. Still, the movie portrayed the “Annabelle” doll as a doll that is genuinely possessed. It is an absurdity to call The Conjuring movie a true-life story. Unfortunately, it is marketed as one.[5]

5 Braveheart (1995)

Braveheart | Great Movie But How True Was the Story?

Braveheart is a 1995 American epic historical drama film that tells the story of a late 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. While the movie is a cinematic masterpiece, it is filled with so many historical inaccuracies.

The movie portrayed Sir William Wallace as a man who was born into poverty, but in reality, Wallace was born to the Scottish aristocracy. He was already a knight by the time of the Battle of Stirling and didn’t get knighted afterward, as the movie suggested. The film also portrayed the Scots as people who painted their faces for battle when, in actuality, they didn’t do such at that moment in history. Isabelle of France also never met William Wallace in real life, and the Battle of Falkirk did not go down the way it was portrayed. The historical inaccuracies in the movie are so much that the movie is considered one of the most inaccurate historical movies ever made.[6]

4 The Social Network (2010)

The Dangerous Myth of The Social Network

The Social Network is a 2010 American biographical drama film based on the 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. It portrays the founding of the social networking website—Facebook. To start with, the movie’s portrayal of FaceMash is totally wrong. In the film, Eduardo Saverin is portrayed as a simple victim, whereas in real life, he is not a victim.

The real-life Saverin was partying extensively in New York, neglecting his duties while Facebook was having difficulties. At one point, Mark Zukerberg’s family had to take out loans to help. Saverin was no longer interested in Facebook as a prospect. He only remembered he had a stake in the company when Facebook became one of the largest social media sites in the world.

There were a lot of inaccuracies in the movie to call it a true story movie. Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) was not rightly portrayed as he is in real life. The movie made him look like a man who couldn’t take ten steps forward without moving with models and women of questionable virtue. The movie also portrayed him as an alcoholic and drug addict. The real-life Sean Parker is popularly renowned as a “cool-headed” person.[7]

3 The Greatest Showman (2017)

P.T. Barnum vs. The Greatest Showman | True Story vs. Movie

The Greatest Showman is a 2017 American biographical pop musical drama film based on the story and life of P.T. Barnum, a famous showman and entertainer, and his creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. The movie, despite being a biographical film, got many things wrong. In the movie, Barnum struck on the idea of starting a museum of “living curiosities” that would feature people with unique features or disabilities.

The movie portrayed Barnum as having held open auditions to round out his cast list. Also, it tracked down some people like the Bearded Lady and General Tom Thumb to be part of his show. In reality, Barnum owed his first success in show business to a slave woman whom he “leased” in 1835 and who never got compensated despite working for long hours at a time. The movie left out vital information from its source material and seriously misrepresented the real P.T. Barnum.[8]

2 Cool Runnings (1993)

16×9 – Cool Runnings: Truth Behind Original Jamaican Bobsled Team

Cool Runnings is a 1993 American sports comedy film. The movie is based on the debut of the Jamaican national bobsled team at the 1988 Winter Olympics. The movie producers were more concerned with making it big at the box office than actually telling the story of the five team members. The film also omitted “the good feelings” and “the human stories” behind the team’s rise.

Unlike the movie, the athletes did not have to sell kisses or hock their vehicles in real life. The bobsled team was funded by Goerge Fitch, an American businessman, and the Jamaican Tourism Board. The movie showed the team crashing into fields and farms as they practiced, but the players trained for three hours a day next to a soccer field in the Army barracks, using a makeshift sled. These, among other inaccuracies, made the movie more fiction than reality.[9]

1 The Imitation Game (2014)

Is The Imitation Game a historically accurate movie?

The Imitation Game is a 2014 period biographical film based on the 1983 biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. The historical inaccuracies in the film are deeply disturbing, being a historical film that was meant to portray how the British broke the German code during World War II. This factor greatly contributed to the eventual Allied victory. However, the director took too many liberties in order to create an emotionally charged story.

The movie painted the picture of Alan Turing as an awkward loner who either irritated or enraged people around him. On the other hand, the real-life Turing was actually well-liked at Bletchley Park. The movie paints Turing as being responsible for building a machine from scratch to break the German code. This is not how it happened in real life. The machine used in breaking the code was built years earlier by Polish mathematicians.

However, the worst departure from the truth was the idea of inserting a villain into the story in the guise of Commander Alastair Denniston, played in the movie by Charles Dance. The director made Denniston an antagonist who was determined to get Turing sacked, while in real life, the commander was supportive of the code-breakers and their efforts.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen