B2 Information Report

Historical Inaccuracies in Movies

Many movies are based on true historical events, and important historical events become memorable for many of us because we saw them retold in movies. The characters, visual portrayal of events, dialogue, sounds and special effects, all contribute towards making it vivid, more attractive and easier to remember, compared to dry and boring facts and dates listed in the pages of our history book.

However, that does not mean that the movies convey all the facts and occurrences accurately. Let’s look at some well-known award-winning movies or blockbusters as examples.

The famous movie Titanic (1997) was never intended to be an accurate historical account of the ship’s actual sinking, but it did include some actual historical figures. The ‘Unsinkable’ Molly Brown really did commandeer a life boat, and Thomas Andrews, the ship’s builder, did go down with the ship. However, it took too much creative liberty with First Officer William Murdoch, who was shown to have committed suicide after shooting one of the passengers on board in the movie.

According to historians, William Murdoch was a hero who helped other people get to safety before he died. His family felt the movie had tarnished his reputation as a hero and took offence. In the end, the movie apologised to the family by donating £5,000 to the William Murdoch Memorial Prize at the Dalbeattie High School in his homeland, Scotland.

Historical inaccuracies happen n many movies, even award-winning ones. Someone could have decided to fast-forward to the next exciting scene, rather than portray the more mundane or draggy parts of actual historical events. Sometimes, they might take some creative liberties or add or remove some historical characters to make the movie more entertaining.

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vivid – producing powerful feelings or strong, clear images in the mind
mundane – lacking interest or excitement; dull
commandeer – officially take control of (something)
tarnish – caused to be less respected
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