Time Travel Through Screens: Historically Accurate TV Shows and Movies

Some TV shows and movies can present themselves as true-to-life even when they’re loaded with inaccuracies. However, some shows still are what they say—historically authentic. From good costumes to real events, if you’re looking forward to binge-watching true-to-life shows, read this blog and grab some soda and popcorn.

1. Band of Brothers

Photo Credit: Playtone.

One Reddit user said, “Band of Brothers, based on a book compiled by a historian from accounts of the actual soldiers depicted, and even the actors were chosen to look like the original people.”

“Band of Brothers is a rare case of the series being more accurate than the book—because Ambrose couldn’t be bothered to look up technical details and sprinkled Panthers and Tigers everywhere, whereas the series correctly had Stugs in the Carentan battle. Ironically, the one glaring historical inaccuracy in the series—the wrong date of Blithe’s death and the fate of some of the other soldiers—was due to the producers believing the veterans they interviewed too quickly; when, in reality, said veterans actually lost touch with some of their comrades and got their fates wrong,” commented another.

2. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

“I just watched this movie for the first time about a month ago, and holy [cow], why did it take me so long? I instantly ordered the first few books of the series. What a great movie,” somebody commented.

“The movie is an amalgamation of a few of the books. Apparently, it is very thoroughly researched as well,” a second person replied.

3. WKRP in Cincinnati

Photo Credit: MTM Enterprises.

One person commented, “I was working at a radio station when WKRP in Cincinnati was on TV. Believe me, based on my experience, the was the most realistic show on television at the time.”

Another one replied, “This show hit home after the tragic stampede at the Who concert in Cincinnati that took… three lives. A guy I grew up with was at that concert and got pushed to the ground. A massive muscular guy reached down and put the guy right back on his feet. If that hadn’t happened, he would’ve died. WKRP took that real-life incident and put out a very serious episode. It did resemble an actual radio station of the day, except for the fact that they only had two disc jockeys.”

4. Rome

Photo Credit: Film Roman.

“Rome is definitely theatrical, but it does a good job of capturing the craziness of the late Roman Republic,” said one commenter.

“Production quality is definitely top notch and strives to be authentic, but the story and characters are greatly altered for dramatic purposes (while still trying to stay true to the atmosphere of the era),” someone replied.

“I’ve been really impressed with the costumes (my main area of focus/expertise)! I spent the first several episodes pointing out garments and naming the plant dye that would make that color in that era,” another commenter added.

5. It’s a Sin

Photo Credit: Red Production Company.

“It’s A Sin about the early 80’s AIDS crisis in London captured the devastation and unfortunate death sentence of the disease and how some people responded with compassionate while others demonized and abandoned loved ones and family members,” somebody commented.

6. Vinland Saga

Photo Credit: Twin Engine.

One Redditor stated, “Vinland Saga is a very well-researched manga/anime about the Vikings during their reign in England. The author went out of his way to portray it as accurately as possible from how they dress to how they farm. The art is gorgeous, the story is insanely captivating, and it’s a beautiful discussion about the morality of war & violence. At the moment, the manga is in Vinland, & the author went out of his way to travel to New Foundland to research and translate the native tribe’s language into Japanese. The only inaccurate thing would be the action. It’s got some heavy anime moments like when a huge dude splits a man in half, but it doesn’t really detract from the rest of the story.”

Another person replied, “They even do their due diligence to get their dates and historical figures correct. Thorkell the Tall, Cnut the Great, Sweyn Forkbeard, and many others were all well-recorded and all did similar things to what they do in the anime. The death of Cnut’s brother Harald has a relatively accurate date, St. Brice’s Day massacre was accurately dated, and the narrative uses, with relative accuracy, the events of the early 11th century as a backdrop to the story. It’s so accurate that it’s literally a spoiled part of the anime/manga for me because I know what happens with Cnut. In the world of anime, where historical accuracy is basically nonexistent, this one is a step above the rest. The only egregiously historical plotline is the ‘legend of Artorius’ as a ‘great Welsh knight.’ While you could stretch Lucius Artorius Castus to be the inspiration for King Arthur if you really wanted to, I don’t think the Welsh would revere Artorius as their paragon. I’d be happy to be corrected on this.”

7. Rob Roy

Photo Credit: United Artists.

One Reddit user stated, “I’ll put in a vote for Rob Roy. It’s entirely fictional—don’t believe nineteenth-century legends about someone who may or may not have been named ‘Robert Roy McGregor’—but it gets so much right about the period.”

The second person replied, “The Tim Roth character, right? See, that’s the kind of attention to detail I love about the film because he’s not French! (Though maybe his mother was French? No way to know, but it’s really irrelevant.) He is aping French manners because that was higher status than what he actually is: the illegitimate son of a Scots lord. Presumably, his try-hard act got old in London, which (along with his mentioned debts) is why he’s back in Scotland. The whole film is chock full of those social and historical intricacies. You can enjoy the film—and it’s a super entertaining film—without “getting” any of that stuff, but all of the detail grounds the plot in historical reality in ways that very few movies bother to do.”

8. Downfall

Photo Credit: Constantin Film.

“Downfall (Der Untergang) is highly accurate, except for the ending. The majority of the movie focuses on the tensions in the Führerbunker in the final week or so of Germany’s fighting in WW2, and it was compiled by consultation with numerous people who lived either in the bunker or were close to the Nazi leadership, including Traudl Jung herself (the Führer’s secretary). Various Nazi leaders are shown behaving in irrational, self-serving, and outright delusional ways—all of which are attested to be eyewitness accounts (and incidentally puncture their own propaganda’s claims of heroic infallibility). The ending was not realistic, because it shows Jung actually escaping to some degree of upbeat safety and freedom. In reality, she and most of the women in her escaping group were captured by the Soviets and possibly r—d before incarceration,” said one user.

9. Sharpe

Photo Credit: Celtic Films.

One person shared, “Sharpe, despite being fictional is simultaneously one of the most accurate depictions of its subject matter you can find in terms of how the peninsula campaign worked out.”

A second Redditor replied, “I will second this and anything based on Cornwell’s writings. In his books, he actually noted what is real and what he added.”

10. Call the Midwife

Photo Credit: Neal Street Productions.

Somebody commented, “Kind of a different approach here, but ‘Call the Midwife’ is incredibly historically medically accurate! And a joy to watch.”

A second person replied, “I love that show so much. I hope they’re coming back with a new season!”

Another commenter added, “I think there’s one out on PBS now, should be on Netflix soon!”

11. The Alamo (2004)

Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures.

One person shared, “Can’t help but think of the 2004 version of The Alamo. On the DVD there’s an audio track of a Texas history professor and a 19th-century warfare expert. They both agree that while not 100% accurate, it’s as close to the true story of the Alamo that Hollywood has and will ever get.”

One user replied, “Omg one of my favorites. The costume alone makes it phenomenal. Billy Bob also plays David Crockett so true to life. Just an amazing movie. …whip my weight in wildcats…”

12. Secret Army

Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Corporation.

“Secret Army is a superb look at the French Resistance in WW2, looking at how a single small cell operated. Unfortunately, no one remembers it because the sitcom Allo Allo parodied it, and the parody became more popular than the original,” somebody shared.

13. Black Hawk Down

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

One person stated, “Black Hawk Down is fairly accurate and very authentic. I know they had special forces helicopter pilots fly the helicopters in the movie and had special forces train the actors on movement to make it look like the actors were trained by special forces.”

14. Farha

Photo Credit: TaleBox.

“Farha on Netflix is an accurate retelling of the ‘Nakba’ or ‘catastrophe’, where local indigenous Palestinians were forcefully and violently displaced from their homes and scattered to the four corners of the globe, never to be allowed to return ever again,” one Reddit user shared.

15. The Battle of Algiers

Photo Credit: Allied Artists Pictures.

Someone commented, “Battle of Algiers, I’m surprised no one has mentioned it The torture and tactics of this film were so accurate that French, USA, and South American militaries used it as standard teaching for torture and counter-insurgency.”

Do you agree with the TV shows and movies listed here? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source: this Reddit thread.

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