Three Examples of Films with Historically Inaccuracies

Rance Miles has worked as chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Quality Milk Sales in Artesia, New Mexico, since 1997. During his free time Rance Miles enjoys reading books and watching films based on historical figures and events.

For individuals interested in American and world history, movies can provide a unique opportunity to see into the lives and environments of some of history’s most notable figures. Unfortunately, movies often place added value on entertainment at the expense of historical accuracy. Sometimes historical films invent characters in order to tell a story, such as Russell Crowe’s character Maximus in Gladiator. The film’s historical figures were tampered with as well, including Emperor Commodus. In the film, Commodus is portrayed as an antagonist for Maximus, when historical records portray him as a fairly well-regarded ruler. The movie also condenses the reign of Commodus to no more than two years, when his actual rule lasted about 13.

The animated Disney film Pocahontas features a litany of historical errors. The actual Pocahontas, a child about 10 years old, had no romantic involvement with the 27-year-old John Smith.

Finally, a historical film can commit errors while also making controversial assessments of a historical event. Oliver Stone’s film JFK, for instance, is rife with historical inaccuracies, ranging from multiple confessions that never took place to several arrests and interrogations that were never made. More notably, the movie openly speculates on the true nature of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, frequently presenting audiences with the idea that the CIA and other government officials may have been involved with the assassination or at least part of a subsequent cover-up.