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Search CinemaSpot or Google |   Great Must-See sites   |   Read Articles and Lists | Find answers | Did you know?  
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History in Film

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:

Presidential Movies

  • Jefferson in Paris
    Interesting portrayal of Thomas Jefferson during his term as ambassador to France from 1784 to 1789.

  • JFK
    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 Carl Bernstein.

American Revolution Films

  • Revolution
    Al Pacino becomes an unwilling participant in the American Revolution after his son is drafted into the British Army.

  • The Patriot
    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.

  • April Morning
    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

  • Glory
    This film depicts Col. Robert Shaw as he leads the Civil War's first all-black volunteer company.

  • Amistad
    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 Normandy.

  • The Longest Day
    Tells the story of the Normandy invasion.

  • Judgment at Nuremberg
    Provides a fictionalized look at the famed Nuremberg trials at the conclusion of World War II.

  • Schindler's List
    Stephen Spielberg's Oscar-winning film about the Holocaust.

European History

  • Braveheart
    This portrayal of the 13th-century Scottish hero William Wallace has been considered historically inaccurate by many critics and academics. Nevertheless, it won several Oscars and inspired many to read up on the subject.

  • Michael Collins
    A film about the man who led the IRA against British rule and founded the free Republic of Ireland in 1921.

  • Elizabeth
    Portrays the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.

  • Restoration
    An all-star cast tells the story of a doctor at the court of Charles II of England.




   --- M. Scarborough

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