Fargo starts with text that says “THIS IS A TRUE STORY,” adding that the events of the film happened in Minnesota in 1987. But while some crimes depicted in the movie may have happened at some point, the movie itself is a work of utter fiction.
Ben Affleck’s Argo was huge in 2012, winning three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Also, it’s pretty inaccurate, especially the way it minimizes Canada’s role in the extraction plan. No less than President Jimmy Carter called out Argo for making stuff up, saying “90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and consummation of the plan was Canadian. And the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA.”
Rudy is one of the most uplifting sports movies ever made. It’s also fast and loose with the truth. Remember that scene where the players place their jerseys on Coach Devine’s desk to convince him to let Rudy play? And the crowd chanting his name? That never happened, and Joe Montana – who was on the team with Rudy – confirms that. “It’s a movie, remember,” he said.
Foxcatcher depicts John du Pont’s murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz. Plenty of what appears on screen is accurate, but the filmmakers took lots of liberties with the timeline and characters’ relationships. For instance, Foxcatcher shows du Pont’s quick apprehension by the police. In reality, the millionaire hid in his mansion in a multi-day standoff.
Clint Eastwood’s latest film, American Sniper, has earned accolades, box office receipts, and controversy. Critics have pointed out differences between the life of Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal with the most confirmed kills in US military history, and the character portrayed by Bradley Cooper. One of many distortions comes in the form of Mustafa, the enemy sniper Kyle battles. Meanwhile, Mustafa only shows up in the book for one paragraph.
THE BLIND SIDE
In 2009, The Blind Side showed how Michael Oher was adopted by a wealthy family and overcame the odds to become an NFL pro. It earned Sandra Bullock an Academy Award…and inspired Oher to write a book to set the record straight. For starters, Oher said Leigh Anne Tuhoy didn’t actually have to teach him how to play football. “No, that’s not me at all! I’ve been studying — really studying — the game since I was a kid!” Oher said.
A BEAUTIFUL MIND
This Russell Crowe vehicle was an inspiring look into the life story of economics Nobel Laureate John Nash. It’s also highly fictionalized: Nash never worked for the Department of Defense, he fathered a child out of wedlock and abandoned the mother, and he never actually gave an acceptance speech for his Nobel prize. Whoops?
The 2012 Formula One flick Rush generated some great reviews – but Rush is full of historical exaggerations. One of the biggest distortions is the fact that James Hunt and Niki Lauda are portrayed as bitter rivals. They were actually friends, having once shared an apartment and often went out for drinks.
Captain Phillips shows a cargo ship and its crew miraculously surviving a hijacking by Somali pirates. But a crewmember from the ship leveled accusations that the real Phillips isn’t much of a hero at all, and that “no one wants to sail with him.”. According to his claims, Phillips practically invited the hijacking by ignoring safety protocols and sailing too close to the coast.
David O. Russel’s 2013 movie offers a hugely entertaining depiction of the Abscam investigation from the late-1970s – and a whole lot of it is made up. For instance, the mayor of Camden wasn’t as nice a guy as he seems in the movie – in reality, he was pretty corrupt. At least this movie has the courtesy to admit its historical deviations, opening with the text, “Some of this actually happened.”