Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, one of many biopics released this year, skewed historical accuracy in favor of channeling the late rock star’s charisma, and the upcoming film Blonde, which is based on Monroe’s life, makes no pretense of being factually accurate. It’s in keeping with recent films that care less about accuracy and more about entertaining their audiences.
Whether or not this is a good thing raises the intriguing question of which biopic movie was the least faithful to the actual people and events depicted in the film. Some, like Bohemian Rhapsody, were widely panned upon their initial release, while others appeared to be fairly accurate until the accounts they were based on were questioned, particularly on Reddit.
It was likely going to be difficult to make an accurate film about intelligence operations. To prove he was, Ben Affleck pretended to make a science fiction film about the daring rescue of six American diplomats from Tehran in the early 1980s. The Washington Post noted, however, that the film has also been the subject of official controversy due to its inaccuracies.
Some viewers were left “somewhat unimpressed” by the film’s narrative, as pointed out by Reddit user Karl0ssus. This was in part due to the film’s inaccuracies. While many people contributed to the successful completion of the real-life mission, some viewers of Argo were put off by the film’s decision to focus on main character Mendez in order to create a more dramatic ending.
Leaving Compton Like It’s Hot (2015)
Straight Outta Compton, which was widely praised by critics, is one of the few films that could get away with toning down the content for a wider audience. While the story of the hip hop group N.W.A.’s rise and fall was interesting, Reddit user wyzapped wasn’t alone in feeling that the movie “cleaned up” the story too much.
They claimed the film’s portrayal of the characters, especially those of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, made them seem so saintly that it “really contradicts their music.” Some critics were put off by Straight Outta Compton because of its mixture of fact and fiction.
Although Sean Astin is best known for his roles in Lord of the Rings and Stranger Things, his devoted fan base is aware that this biography of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger was one of his first major roles. To fulfill his dream of playing football at Notre Dame, Rudy follows a student-athlete who must earn much higher grades.
One Reddit user said it best when they called it a “good movie if you keep in mind it is fiction,” despite the fact that it is one of the best movies about perseverance currently available. Former Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana has since dissected some of the errors on his podcast, Pardon My Take.
To Play Imitation Games (2014)
The Imitation Game, based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, won awards for its casting and for bringing Turing’s story to a wider audience. Turing was the man who led British efforts to crack the enigma code during World War 2. Redditors weren’t pleased with one particular aspect of its depiction, though.
Even though “Turing was an affable, well-liked guy,” the user Lombard333 felt that the movie portrayed him as misunderstood and socially inept so that Cumberbatch could play up those aspects of his character. It wasn’t the only error that was criticized, either because of Cumberbatch’s presence or because viewers now assume that all characters with a high IQ will be exceptionally so.
The Dragon: The Legend of Bruce Lee (1993)
Redditors agreed that even though Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story wasn’t going for 100% historical accuracy, the title alone shouldn’t disqualify it as one of the most inaccurate biopics of all time. It’s a surprisingly ambitious retelling, with Jason Scott Lee in the role of the legendary martial artist and actor.
The Reddit User’s Dream System
The statement by Junkie that the film is fantastic but “doesn’t even pretend that it’s sticking to the facts” was widely echoed. Although the film succeeds in capturing Bruce Lee’s essence, the struggle he wages against the demon that tormented his family is entirely fictional.
Watch Clash of the Titans! (2000)
Unfortunately, this biopic of Herman Boone, who led a newly integrated team from three high schools to a legendary unbeaten run in 1971, isn’t as enjoyable to watch in retrospect because of the way history tends to reevaluate the impact and legacy of iconic figures.
Some of the reasons were listed by Reddit user Redlight0516, who said that “Herman Boone would eventually face multiple revolts over his abuse of players from both players and staff.” This was something that was reported at the time in The Washington Post. It’s one of those notable innovations that’s more interesting as a work of fiction than a biographical study.
Freddie Mercury’s iconic Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Rami Malek’s performance as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury is widely regarded as one of the best in musical biopic history, and he was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal. This, however, does not make Bohemian Rhapsody a historically reliable depiction.
One user, BlancoDelRio, even went so far as to call it “offensively inaccurate in my opinion” The film’s apparent moralizing about the singer’s hedonistic lifestyle while the other band members are portrayed as squeaky clean really bothered some fans, despite the fact that many have discussed how the film invented events and changed the timeline for convenience.
Sniper, American (2014)
American Sniper was one of the most exciting and original biopics, a gripping account of the life of Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in US military history. Even though it was a commercial and critical success (according to Box Office Mojo) and had a good claim to accuracy because it was based on Kyle’s memoir, the film was met with skepticism from some Redditors.
According to user ActualJohnFKennedy, the problem is that Kyle exaggerates about “nearly everything in that book.” Real combat records contradict some of Kyle’s claims, as has been discussed in publications like The Navy Times, showing that sometimes even sticking closely to a real-life account won’t necessarily make for an accurate biopic.
Bloodsport is no longer seen as a biopic, but rather as a straightforward martial arts action film about a fictional underground fighting tournament, thanks to the many people who came forward immediately to question the claims and fight record of Frank Dux, on whom the movie is based. If you’re looking at this film as if it were a biopic, you’ll quickly realize it’s one of the most inaccurate depictions of real life you’ll ever see.
Threat-Level—12am, a Reddit user, even went to the trouble of calculating whether or not Dux really did win 56 straight knockouts in a single tournament. They made the point that in order for Bloodsport’s “true story” to be plausible, the “actual number of competitors in that single-elimination fictional Kumite would have to be: 74,057,594,037,927,936.”
See If You Can Get Me (2002)
Perhaps not the best way to ensure an accurate biography, Catch Me If You Can was inspired by a man who claims to be a master of deception. Catch Me If You Can, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, a con man and master of disguise trying to evade the FBI, is excellent when viewed as a great smart comedy.
It’s not a biopic for accuracy purists, as Abagnale’s memoir, on which the film is based, has been thoroughly debunked by experts. A Reddit user named attorneyatslaw summed up the film perfectly: “a story about a liar based on the liar’s lies.” While the phrase has a nice ring to it, it also makes it impossible to describe the film as anything other than a wholly inaccurate biopic.
UP NEXT: Reddit Users Vote on the 10 Worst Biopics Ever Made
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