While there's no such thing as a 100% historically accurate movie, some productions get pretty close, but sometimes a certain amount of artistic licence is required to improve the plot. Often there can also be a lack of historical information available at the time of filming, but beyond that, there are plenty of legitimate reasons why a movie can't act as a historical document. Some filmmakers ultimately decide to forgo reality for the sake of entertainment - but, others stay true to it as best they can. Here are 5 fantastic movies, all of them historically accurate.
1. 12 Years A Slave
Plenty of films have tried to tackle the subject of slavery in America, with mixed results. Due to the brutal nature of the topic, directors have often airbrushed realities of the characters involved to preserve the overall entertainment factor of the movie. Not Steve McQueen. In 12 Years A Slave, McQueen focuses in great detail on the horrendous conditions for slaves, without sensationalizing their situation to the point of make-believe. The accuracy of detail is evident throughout the film - from the buying process at the slave market, to the role of religion in justifying the unthinkable. It's a harrowing, remarkable piece of work.
2. Das Boot
Before the 1981 release of Das Boot, submarine-based war movies had struggled to accurately convey the uniqueness of underwater warfare. Films like Run Deep and The Enemy Below made a valiant effort with the strategic elements of underwater combat, but none of them captured the claustrophobic conditions of a German U-Boat. Das Boot did this with aplomb, director Wolfgang Peterson utilizing innovative, intricate camera work to bring the realism to the big screen.
For those with prior conceptions about Abraham Lincoln, Steven Spielberg's epic about the lauded 16th US president might make for uncomfortable viewing. Lincoln is usually portrayed as a man with a bottomless pit of empathy - nicknames like Honest Abe or The Liberator certainly perpetuate this - but Abe was involved in US politics, a hostile environment which often led to disagreement and confrontation. Nonetheless, Lincoln is an excellent movie with fantastic sets, costumes, and historical references. Well worth a watch.
4. Schindler's List
While some of the characters and moments in this Spielberg epic are historically inaccurate, few films made about the Holocaust manage to do it justice like Schindler's List. This remarkable story of a man who tries to save the lives of as many Jewish factory workers under his supervision as possible also showcases the horrors of the concentration camps and the brutal process of rounding up Jewish citizens. Schindler's List is a deeply emotional experience for the viewer - in fact, many survivors of the camps have praised the movie for its accuracy and message.
5. Apollo 13
Like Das Boot, Apollo 13 perfectly captures the claustrophobic feeling its protagonists would have experienced onboard the fabled spaceship. However, it's not just the vibe of the movie that feels so real. The level of detail in recreating the craft is truly incredible, down to the tiniest design detail. Director Ron Howard made a point of staying true to technical details and character traits, making sure that Apollo 13 remains one of the most undisputed historically accurate movies ever made.