For most people, watching a cheesy historical action is something that they can just sit back and do without too much thought. As a history buff, however, I can't help but watch for the accuracy of the movie as well. Often I'll do research after the fact to determine the historical accuracy. The answer on some isn't surprising, but on others is shocking. Here are five who stand out for better or worse.
While one of my favorite movies of all time, it is not necessarily the most historically accurate movie. For those who don't know, Gladiator follows a Roman general who is sold into slavery after betrayal by a corrupt emperor While it does deal with two emperors, Marcus Aurelius and Commodus who both existed, indeed one after another, there is no evidence that it was caused by a murder. There also no evidence that any historical figure named Maximus, and Commodus was not killed by a gladiator but rather a wrestler named Narcissus . Even the way that the gladiator battles were fought is inaccurate. Only 10% of gladiator fights ended in death, and it was very rare for a wealthy man to become a slave warrior. However, it is still one of my favorite movies.
This movie is actually the opposite of the above movie in that while it is not as good a film by any means, it is at some moments incredibly accurate. This movie retells the Trojan War in a way to project how it might have actually occurred. Indeed, the movie alludes to the underlying reasons that many historians believe caused the real Trojan War, such as control of the Bosporus. In addition, the warriors in the film actually wore relatively accurate Mycenaean armor down to the boar tusk helmets and figure eight shields. With respect to the fight scenes, it is hard to say for sure, but the movie did accurately capture how chariot battle and single combat were conducted. So while this film itself is okay, take a moment to enjoy some of the better moments
While this is again one of my favorite movies, it is not at all historically. First of all, I'm going to break some hearts. The 14th Century Scots did not wear kilts, but instead a dress-type clothing. Secondly, Instead of being a hard-luck farmer, William Wallace was one of the most powerful knights in Scotland, with access to resources to conduct a huge rebellion. The battle scenes, while undeniably amazing, were not accurate to the battle of Stirling Bridge or any of the other battles. The one thing that I do have to say, is that the castles were actually impressively accurate
"Saving Private Ryan"
Most likely the best movie on this list, and most likely one of the most accurate. The opening 20 minutes depicting D-Day has long been lauded as one of the most powerful battle scenes in movie history, and it stands up to all historical critiques. The names of some of the characters had been changed, and some believe that private Ryan was actually Fritz Niland. However, this move is and should be held up for everything from historical accuracy to cinematography.
I want to talk about this movie not because of what it got historically wrong, which was plenty such as the Spartans not wearing clothes and the Persians having elephants the size of buildings. Instead, I want to discuss what the movie did get right, which is actually a lot. For instance, most of the of the characters on the Spartan side were, in fact, real people. Second, many of the ridiculous, overacted lines are historically accurate. For instance, both "Tonight we dine in Hell" and "We will fight in the shade" in response to the arrows that can blot out the sun, are both believed to be real quotes. However, the famous line "THIS IS SPARTA" is not accurate. However, in real life, the Persian ambassador warned that the Spartans should drop their arms and surrender. The Spartan king Leonidas instead responded with "Molon Labe" or "Come and Take them."
I apologize if I perhaps ruined some of your favorite movies, or if you just think I'm insane, but now you know more of how I think.