Top 10 Films that Messed With History
#10 – FairyTale: A True Story, 1997
This rather sweet film tells the ‘true’ story of two girls, Elsie and Frances, who discover a bunch of fairies and take their photos with them. Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini come along and are like, “Cool”.
History’s Verdict: “Aw! Look at the fairies! Look how cute and small they are! Seriously though, this film is based on lies. Fairies don’t exist. Plus, one of the girls admitted that it was a hoax on her deathbed. And have you seen those photos? Come on people.”
#9 – Apocalypto, 2006
Crazy-ass Mel Gibson’s crazy-ass film tells the story of a nice man called Jaguar Paw trying to escape from some nasty men in 16th century Central America. Jaguar Paw’s village is destroyed and all the inhabitants are taken to a giant Mayan city, complete with pyramids, blue people and a lot – really a lot – of human sacrifice.
History’s Verdict: “Well this is hardly fair on the poor old Mayans. Compared to their bloodthirsty predecessors, the Aztecs, the Mayans were a pretty civilised bunch. And by civilised, I mean that they favoured non-lethal bloodletting over full-on sacrifice. Also, there’s no evidence that the Mayans took captives from random villages. Mostly, slaves were taken during political warfare. End of, Mel Gibson. End of.”
#8 – Pocahontas, 1995
Ah, Pocahontas. Feminist icon for little girls of the nineties everywhere. A film memorable for its awesome soundtrack and bittersweet ending where love interest John Smith (Mel Gibson, again? Really?) sails off back to England, leaving Pocahontas standing on a big rock, hair drifting elegantly in the wind.
History’s Verdict: “Nope. No that’s not what happened. The real Pocahontas met John Smith when she was about 10, got married off to some guy called John Rolfe and carted back to England where she promptly popped her clogs (moccasins?).”
#7 – Braveheart, 1995
Third Mel Gibson film on the list, and second from 1995. Evidently a big year for Mel (and thus a sad, sad year for History). Braveheart depicts mullet-haired hottie William Wallace riding around and shouting “Freedom” all in the name of Scotland. Along the way he beds Isabella (French wife of King Edward II’s son, also Edward). Oh, and he wears a kilt.
History’s Verdict: “Come on, people! The title doesn’t even refer to William Wallace! It was Robert the Bruce (semi-traitor-but-actually-a-goodie in the film) who was described as such in a poem by William Edmondstoune Aytoun. Also, Isabella was only about ten when Wallace was killed so that’s GROSS. And kilts didn’t appear until the 16th century, over two hundred years after Wallace’s lifetime.”
#6 – From Hell, 2001
Beardo-weirdo Alan Moore’s graphic novel was the basis for this crime thriller, charting an investigation into the Jack the Ripper murders. Johnny Depp stars as clairvoyant detective Frederick Abberline, who is on the hunt for the culprit. SPOILERS: In the end, it turns out that the Jack the Ripper murders are actually part of some mad conspiracy. The real killer is a physician working for the royal family and his murders are part of a Masonic cover-up.
History’s Verdict: “Frederick Abberline was a real person who almost certainly wasn’t a clairvoyant and didn’t look like Johnny Depp. Admittedly, this film doesn’t exactly mess with history so much as make stuff up. BUT the film does feature both flashlights AND lobotomies, neither of which were invented at the time. And it makes all Jack’s victims a lot younger and sexier which, in many ways, is the worst crime of all”.
#5 – Anastasia, 1997
Anastasia is another Disney pic which dispenses with the horrifying truth in favour of rainbows and happiness. The film is based upon the urban legend that Anastasia, youngest daughter in the Russian Romanov family, escaped being murdered in the massacre that killed the rest of her family in 1917.
History’s Verdict: “This is bullshit. I’m sorry. Anastasia’s remains were discovered in 2007 alongside her brothers, Alexei.”
#4 – Anonymous, 2011
Shakespeare didn’t write his plays, Edward de Vere did blah blah blah. Read our review for the full scoop.
History’s Verdict: “This is offensive and, frankly a little snobbish. I mean, they’re basically saying that only some fancy aristocrat would have had the intellectual capacity to write Shakespeare’s plays. THAT’S RUDE. Also, it suggests that Elizabeth had several bastard children and that Shakespeare murdered Christopher Marlowe. Go away Roland Emmerich. Go away.”
#3 – Independence Day, 1996
In honour of Roland Emmerich, we are featuring another of his films on this list. Nabbing the bronze medal is Independence Day, the big bucks jingoistic hit of the nineties, which follows Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum (amongst others) trying to save the world from some really impolite aliens. It also posits that a UFO was actually uncovered at Roswell in 1947.
History’s Verdict: “History? This isn’t history! Leave me alone.”
#2 – The Da Vinci Code, 2006
Ron Howard’s film, based on the 2003 novel by Dan Brown, is about Tom Hanks uncovering some worldwide conspiracy involving Da Vinci and Jesus or some shit (we can’t be bothered to properly read the Wikipedia entry). Basically, it SPOILERS! SPOILERS! turns out that Audrey Tautou is the great-great-granddaughter of Jesus following a saucy affair with Mary Magdalene (we KNEW she was no good).
History’s Verdict: “Ugh. This is stupid. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
#1 – Inglourious Basterds, 2009
Well obviously this was going to take the top spot. Quentin Tarantino’s film doesn’t so much mess with History as throw it out the window altogether. Inglourious Basterds follows the exploits of a band of ragtag Jewish soldiers who go around brutally killing and scalping Nazis. The film memorably ends with Hitler and all his BFFs being lured into a cinema and machine-gunned to death.
History’s Verdict: “Actually, that’s more or less how I remember it”.