Best history movie mistakes of all time

Please vote as you browse around to help the best rise to the top.

The Great Escape picture

Factual error: Why is Hilts not wearing a uniform? A serving officer captured behind enemy lines in civilian clothing risked being shot as a spy. If a prisoner's uniform was too worn or damaged to wear, it was routine for the German authorities to replace it - a P.O.W. in civilian clothes is an obvious escape risk. He is wearing a pair of tan chinos, a cut off sloppy Joe sweatshirt, both ridiculously anachronistic - Sixties hipster fashions - and nowhere even close to a World War 2 uniform. He is also wearing Army Type III Service boots - something that would never have been issued to a fighter pilot.

More The Great Escape mistakes
The Irishman picture

Factual error: While handling the ignition coil cable to the distributor cap, Joe Pesci tells De Niro that the timing chain needs adjustment in his truck. A truck of that year with an inline Chevy motor would not have a timing chain at all, instead this truck would be equipped with a direct drive timing gear. Even if it had a timing chain, it would be behind the water pump and a cover. It would have been a several hour job to replace, not possible to adjust it.

More The Irishman mistakes
Dunkirk picture Dunkirk mistake picture Video

Deliberate mistake: The Messerschmitts have painted yellow fronts, this wasn't done by the Germans until after Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan has admitted doing this deliberately so the audience could tell the difference between the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt during the combat scenes.

More Dunkirk mistakes
Casino picture Casino mistake picture

Revealing mistake: Near the end when Ace gets into his Cadillac, in the first shot facing the front of the car, there is a protective glass in front of Ace (the same width as the windshield) with the dashboard in between that glass and the windshield. Note the vertical edge of the glass is visible at the right side, and the rearview mirror's sticker on the windshield casts a shadow onto the second glass. During the stunt, the flames on the dashboard are between the glass shield and the windshield, keeping the actor safe from harm. (02:46:05)

Super Grover

More Casino mistakes
Oppenheimer picture Oppenheimer mistake picture

Factual error: After the successful Trinity test in 1945, people in a crowd are holding small US flags with 50 stars on them (offset rows). At the time there were only 48 states and the flag had 48 stars in even rows. The 50 star flag didn't exist until 1960, after Alaska and Hawaii were made states in 1959.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: While this is correct, an argument can be made that since the colour scenes are meant to be subjective and the black and white scenes are meant to be objective, Oppenheimer could have been unintentionally mapping the modern US flag onto this scene.

THGhost

That's a ridiculous stretch with zero evidence, not least as 48 star flags are seen in colour in other scenes. Sometimes a mistake is simply a mistake.

There is evidence, though. Nolan said so himself. Look it up. As for the mistake itself, I'm merely repeating what I've read on Twitter, and this correction was merely a suggestion. Seeing the 48 star flags in other colour scenes still doesn't disprove this theory. It is just a theory though, so no need to shoot it down so hard.

THGhost

He's said subjective in terms of the colour scenes being "first person", and maybe not strictly factual in terms of creating moments between characters and conveying emotion, but nowhere does that stretch to "one random scene happens to feature 50 star flags because Oppenheimer is mapping the modern flag onto it, when nothing like that happens anywhere else in the film."

Meh, take it up with Twitter. I just thought it was interesting, so I posted it here for a different point of view/perspective for others to read. It is most likely bull**** though.

THGhost

The fact that a director realized they had made a mistake and retroactively made up a deus ex machina explanation for it in no way invalidates the mistake. Nice try, Mr. Nolan but this posting is absolutely valid.

While Christopher Nolan's talked about the subjective/objective colour/black and white thing, which is entirely fair and no doubt exactly his intention, I don't think he's actually tried to "excuse" this by using that explanation, that's just other people trying to connect the two things. I'm not sure Nolan has commented on the flag issue in interviews at all.

Precisely, and I was in no way trying to invalidate the original mistake. I just found the whole theory interesting and posted it here. It is rather hilarious that a director with such attention to detail like Nolan would have missed something like this. We shall see if he gets it fixed for the streaming/physical release.

THGhost

It's not fixed in the home video version. However, the behind-the-scenes materials provide a reason for the mistake, in that putting a crowd in the scene was apparently a spur-of-the-moment decision. It's like that in their haste to bring in the crowd, the set decorators bought some modern miniature flags and put them into the scene without anyone realizing the 48/50 discrepancy.

Vader47000

More Oppenheimer mistakes
First Man picture

Factual error: The interior shots of the Gemini and Apollo Spacecraft show worn and dirty panels, knobs, switches and circuit breakers. The movie most likely used some original cockpit trainers, but in reality the astronauts were flying brand new spacecraft that were spotless.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: All spacecraft are extensively checked out by technicians before mating to the launch vehicle. Launch rehearsals are done over and over again by both prime and backup crews in the real vehicle in the weeks leading up to launch. Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives in a fire aboard Apollo 1 during one such dress rehearsal. The switches and panels get worn from this use and activity. Crews also make minor modifications to their specific craft to suit the mission and tastes.

More First Man mistakes
Midway picture

Factual error: In the final scene, where Fonda and Holbrook are looking over the carrier at the crowds on the dock, you can see that only the first rows of people are dressed in period clothes. The rest of the crowd are dressed as they would have been in 1976 when the film was made. Also, between them in the background is a yellow Ford Pinto.

More Midway mistakes
Patriots Day picture

Continuity mistake: When the police are moving in to arrest Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the shot shows an FBI SWAT officer grabbing him. But in the next cut, the officer changes to a Boston Police Officer while changing back to a FBI Officer in the following shot.

More Patriots Day mistakes
The Untouchables picture

Continuity mistake: When Eliot Ness is at Jim Malone's house for the first time, Malone's collar is opened, then buttoned, then open again.

More The Untouchables mistakes
More Tora! Tora! Tora! mistakes
Zulu picture

Revealing mistake: When Mr Witt rides out of the Zulu camp in a 2 horse cart at the beginning of the movie, just before it exits, you can see it's a stunt double at the reins.

More Zulu mistakes
The Post picture

Factual error: Robert McNamara is wearing a multi colored Polo shirt talking to Mrs. Graham in 1971. The Ralph Lauren Company did not make the shirts until 1972.

More The Post mistakes
Black Hawk Down picture Black Hawk Down mistake picture

Visible crew/equipment: Near the end of the movie when the convoy is heading back to the Pakistan Stadium, a Humvee stops briefly to allow a man to walk across the street with a child in his arms. When the shot changes and the Humvee begins driving again, a crew member or cameraman is seen inside the Humvee wearing a white shirt. All of the men who entered the Humvee were wearing fatigues. (02:05:27)

More Black Hawk Down mistakes
Enemy at the Gates picture

Factual error: When the map of the German advance is shown, Switzerland is shown to be taken over. Switzerland was never invaded by the Germans. (00:05:10)

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: It doesn't show German advances. It shows the German influence over Europe, symbolizing it covers all of Europe and then expanded towards the East. Italy was never conquered by the Germans either yet it was part of the axis and is shown being covered by black. Switzerland, though neutral, was fully surrounded by the Axis and their influence played heavily upon the country. Its a very crude simulation.

lionhead

Suggested correction: It does not show the German advancement in true historical order, but more like a red shadow that expands across Europe in a steady pace. And just as the camera starts zooming in on Stalingrad, you can see a small sliver of red starting to spread on the south-eastern coast of Norway.

dizzyd

More Enemy at the Gates mistakes
Midway picture

Factual error: During the battle at the Marshalls-Gilberts, the movie shows mountainous terrain. The real Marshalls and Gilberts are atolls with very little terrain.

Movie Medic

More Midway mistakes
The Social Network picture

Factual error: When Mark types email addresses in to tell people about facemash, he writes to several people @harvard.edu. At the time the movie takes place, undergraduate email addresses were all of the form username@fas.harvard.edu. Furthermore, the network brought down by facemash would have been referred to as the FAS network. (FAS stands for Faculty of Arts and Sciences; the eponymous network covered all buildings within the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.).

More The Social Network mistakes
A Bridge Too Far picture

Factual error: Most of the parachutes are PX type. These came out in the 1960s. They only used X type during the war - only a few of those are seen in the film. (00:07:00)

More A Bridge Too Far mistakes
Red Tails picture

Factual error: The German fighters depicted in the film are Messerchmitt Bf 109 G-6s, and every single one of them is using the Rüstsatz VI gun pod, that is, 2 extra 20mm Mg 151 cannons. The Luftwaffe only equipped their Bf 109s with the gun pods when they were going to intercept bombers. In this movie, even on the fighter vs fighter missions, they have these gun pods, which is inaccurate, because the gun pods dramatically reduced the turning performance of the Bf 109s.

André Vinícius

More Red Tails mistakes
Hamilton picture Hamilton mistake picture Video

Continuity mistake: Angelica has flowers on her dress. During the wedding, they disappear and reappear between shots.

More Hamilton mistakes
Troy picture Troy mistake picture

Visible crew/equipment: As Achilles' ship nears the Trojan shores, Agamemnon snidely asks, "What's the fool doing? He's going to take the beach of Troy with fifty men?" At the start of the next shot, as the camera begins to pan down, on the far right, just beside a person's (who is dressed in blue) head is a metal bullhorn (ie. used to give instructions to cast/crew, and which definitely doesn't belong in this time period). (00:36:35)

Super Grover

More Troy mistakes

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.