Movies Based on True Stories That Lied to You

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Back in the days of no internet, anyone could claim anything on TV and film. There were so many movies based on true stories that played with our emotions and made us think everything we were watching actually happened. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to lie to the audience like that since a short Google search easily reveals everything. However, that doesn’t mean movie producers still won’t try, relying on moviegoers’ natural laziness. In order to make sure that doesn’t happen, we’ve compiled a list of movies that aren’t as close to the truth as they claim on screen. Check to see which of them lied to you and why.


If you’ve never seen this amazing 1996 movie by the Coen brothers, we strongly recommend you watch it right now. As is the case with most of their other films, this one also features a host of colorful and outlandish characters involved in a thin, somewhat unimportant plot. While there’s no doubt that Fargo is an excellent movie, one thing can really bother a true film enthusiast. At the very start of the film, it is mentioned that this is also among the movies based on true stories. That is simply not true and the Coens knew that all too well. In fact, they only put it in to make the audience care more about the characters and the plot. In a way, they did it to point out the absurdity of the whole concept.

The Strangers

You may or may not have heard of Bryan Bertino, a young director with only three directorial releases behind him. On the other hand, you’ve probably heard of The Strangers, his movie from 2008 starring Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, and some masked assailants. It’s a classic home invasion, torture movie that didn’t really get that much praise from the critics. What’s interesting is that it’s also presented as one of the movies based on true stories. The actual word used in the film is “inspired” but that’s basically the same. Namely, Bertino stated in an interview that he found the inspiration for the movie in his childhood. Apparently, when he was little, some men knocked on the door of his house, asked for someone he didn’t know and went away. He later learned that these people were robbing houses where nobody answered the door. Yes, it has nothing to do with the film, but OK.


Sometimes the actual story that inspired the film simply isn’t that interesting. A real story has to have a point, a message, and something of a flow. In 2012, Denzel Washington starred in a film called Flight that was, allegedly, based on real events. The only problem is that such a statement makes people assume that Denzel’s character actually existed, saved the passengers of the plane and faced prosecution afterward. The real flight used as inspiration, Alaska Airlines Flight 261, was much more tragic and less dramatic. The airplane malfunctioned, people died and that’s it. The movie only borrowed the look of the plane and some of the tragedy’s elements. You can’t say it’s a bad movie, but you also can’t say it’s a true story.

A Beautiful Mind

Many people might get disappointed to learn that the Oscar-winning masterpiece of a movie, A Beautiful Mind, isn’t actually that true to reality as the filmmakers suggested. In case you’ve never seen it, the story follows John Nash, a real-life mathematical genius who struggled with schizophrenia his whole life. While there are numerous accounts where movie strays away from the biographical facts, one of the main differences is that the real John Nash never had any visual hallucinations. This is a major part of the film and one of the central points in the plots, but it simply isn’t true. Another important piece of information is that his wife didn’t stay with him throughout his sickness, despite what the movie suggests. When you exclude just those two elements, the story becomes a lot different, perhaps even unrecognizable.

The Pursuit of Happyness

At the end of our list is the depressing tale starring Will Smith and his son, Jaden. Despite the spelling in the title, the film is full of truly depressing, heart-breaking moments and, claims to be based on real events. The only problem is that the man portrayed in the movie differs quite a lot from the real one. Will Smith’s character is thoughtful, caring, considerate and always puts his family first. The real Will Gardener, however, wasn’t as benevolent as shown. He often neglected his family to put all his efforts into getting a job. There have been some claims that he also beat his wife and conceived a child with his mistress. Perhaps that would have been a better film. Who knows?

What do you think about these movies? Are you disappointed?

If you liked this article about movies based on true stories, you’ll probably be surprised to hear the story behind the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.