When people think of Hollywood, the first thing that comes to mind usually isn't factual accuracy. Filmmakers take all kinds of liberties with their projects to put moviegoers in seats and sell tickets at the box office, though every so often, a writer or director comes along who would rather keep the facts intact than bend the truth for the sake of entertainment. While many of these films are among the greatest ever made, you'll be happy to know that along with their pedigree, they're also hailed as the most fact-forward of all time.
1. Apollo 13 (1995)
In order to recreate the perilous events of the failed Apollo 13 mission, director Ron Howard went to incredible lengths to make sure his film was technically accurate. Not only did Howard bring in NASA consultants to train cast members, but he also got special permission to film aboard a reduced gravity aircraft in order to realistically capture the weightlessness of space.
2. Shane (1953)
Shane is regarded by many as the greatest western of all time. George Stevens’ movie follows the attempts of the titular aging gunslinger to settle down on a Wyoming farm. But Shane — memorably portrayed by Alan Ladd — gets pulled into a battle with the callous cattle baron Rufus, whilst falling for Joe Starrett’s wife Marian. Acclaimed though it was for its moving story, Shane also gets high marks for its accurate depiction of the era. From the beginning, director Stevens and his trusted deputy Joe De Yong embarked on a period of research. The pair left no stone unturned in ensuring their movie was true to the era. This included everything from the garbs worn, the weapons and items used, and the buildings' architecture.
3. Schindler's List (1993)
Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking masterwork originated with Poldek Pfefferberg, one of the Schindlerjuden (Schindler Jews), who made it his life's mission to tell the story of Oskar Schindler and his rescue of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. After convincing author Thomas Keneally to adapt the story into his 1982 novel Schindler's Ark, Pfefferberg then managed to persuade Spielberg into turning the book into a film.
4. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1966)
There are precious few westerns that are as spellbinding as The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. The classic features standout performances from Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach, stunning cinematography, and an evocative Ennio Morricone score. The spaghetti western is set in the Southwest during the American Civil War and follows Eastwood’s mysterious stranger Joe and his unlikely partnership with a Mexican outlaw named Tuco. The general gist of the story was quickly improvised by American film executives, so it was not based on real-life events. Nonetheless, Leone worked hard in researching the period of the film, traveling to America to pore over documents from the Library of Congress, as well as the photographs of period snapper Mathew Brady. Still, there was one major historical error in it: dynamite hadn’t been invented yet!