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PopWrapped | Movies

How Truthful Is Your Favorite "Based On A True Story" Movie?

Tamara Fuentes | PopWrapped Author

Tamara Fuentes

Updated 12/16/2016 5:34am
How Truthful Is Your Favorite
Media Courtesy of The Boston Globe

If it's based on a true story, then the movie must also be true, right?

According to data journalist David McCandless and researcher Stephanie Smith, some of it is too good to be true. Working with Information is Beautiful, the duo watched and researched information on 14 of the most recently popular movies that were based on true stories. Using background information like books, articles, first-hand accounts, and anything else that was available, they were able to piece together which scenes were completely true and which used creative licenses.

Breaking it down scene by scene, they presented evidence for or against the scenes showing what the movies got wrong or created themselves. If no information was able to confirm or deny a scene that happened in a movie, then it gained a neutral score.

The scenes are, then, rated one of the five ratings: false, false-ish, true-ish, true or unknown. Clicking each scene will show what happened and the information either backing it or debunking what happened. Each scene is also provided sources to show how McCandless and Smith were able to come to their conclusions.

Fourteen movies were used in this project and were rated in a percentage scale, with 100% representing that the movie was 100% true and that there are no scenes that can be proven historically false.

Selma, the 2014 film about the Selma to Montgomery rights marches, topped the list with a 100% truth rating. While there were few scenes that were unable to be proven, all scenes that McCandless and Smith found information for were all historically accurate.

The Imitation Game, which won the 2014 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, had the lowest score at 41.4%. Despite the fact that the screenplay was adapted from the biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma, most of what took place in the film was made up for the movie.

Other true story movies that were analyzed were Academy Award for Best Picture winners Spotlight and The King's Speech which came in at 81.6% and 73.4%, respectively. The Social Network, which scored a 76.1%, and The Wolf of Wall Street, 74.6%, were right in the middle.

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