While Hollywood can weave great tales of suspense, intrigue, comedy and
horror, sometimes the truth is more entertaining than fiction. For decades,
filmmakers have drawn on historical events to create compelling movies.
Some directors adhere strictly to the facts, as in
1492: The Conquest of Paradise, which is considered the most
historically accurate portrayal of Columbus' voyages. Others are willing to
bend the truth to produce a more entertaining product.
Despite inaccuracies, researchers believe these films can aid in the
study of history. Mistakes provide an entertaining
way for students to learn about historical facts and might inspire
them to study the subject further.
History in Film offers a variety of lesson plans to accompany films. For more history in the movies, explore these sites:
Jefferson in Paris
Interesting portrayal of Thomas Jefferson during his term as ambassador to
from 1784 to 1789.
Oliver Stone's controversial account of John F. Kennedy's assassination.
All The President's Men
The Watergate break-in unravels as two Washington Post reporters
investigate. Stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Bob Woodward and
American Revolution Films
Al Pacino becomes an unwilling
participant in the American Revolution after his son is drafted into the
This Mel Gibson epic has been
severely criticized for historical inaccuracies, but it has inspired a
new generation to read further about the American Revolution.
Tommy Lee Jones stars as a citizen-soldier at the battles of Lexington and
Concord, the first military engagements of the Revolutionary War. This April
morning was April 19, 1775, when the "shot heard 'round the world" was fired,
signaling the start of the American Revolution.
Civil War & 19th Century America Films
This film depicts Col. Robert Shaw
as he leads the Civil War's first all-black volunteer company.
Steven Spielberg's fact-based story of the 1839 revolt by Africans on the
slave ship Amistad and their subsequent trial when they are taken on American soil.
WW II & the Holocaust
Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg's critically acclaimed story of US soldiers trying to save
a comrade stationed behind enemy lines following the Allied invasion of
Judgment at Nuremberg
Provides a fictionalized look at the famed Nuremberg
trials at the conclusion of World War II.