We are already well aware of the fact that there is no such thing as a film that is entirely historically accurate. This could be for various reasons. One of the reasons could be the lack of information. The other reason could be the filmmaker's need to take a few liberties to make for a satisfying cinematic experience. Some, however, despite taking it too far, still claim to tell a factually accurate story.
It is indeed the historically inaccurate films that make it easier for us to appreciate those rare ventures that actually get history right. Here are a few that did:
A Night to Remember (1958)
This film is probably the other, less popular account of the unfortunate fate of the RMS Titanic. One would agree that in the 1997 film Titanic, James Cameron was able to convey the actual sinking of the Titanic in a way that no other movie before would have possibly been able to do. However, as far as other things go, A Night to Remember has an edge in factual accuracy.
A Night to Remember is based on Titanic survivor Walter Lord’s book by the same name. It gives us a better understanding of characters and also provides an insight into the class struggles of the time and the procedure for when a ship that size starts sinking, as opposed to its 1997 counterpart, which emphasizes on a love story.
Come and See (1985)
Director E. Klimov's Come and See was actually held up by Russian political organizations that feared Klimov’s portrayal of war and soldiers veered a bit too far from their own stories on the subject.
Even then, every scene in Come and See attempts to portray the guerrilla nature of the Russian war effort and its consequences with accuracy. The movie never flinches when dealing with something unpleasant and it is this accurate portrayal of death camps and their victims, that garnered praise from historians.
Schindler’s List (1993)
Based on Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, Schindler’s List is the retelling of the life of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of thousands of concentration camp-bound refugees by offering them employment in his factories during World War II.
To make it as realistic as possible, Spielberg decided to shoot the film in the documentary style and in as many actual locations as possible. It is these elements that place the movie at its historical best.
Apollo 13 (1995)
Ron Howard's space adventure film, Apollo 13, is the story of the titular spaceship’s aborted lunar mission. The film showcases the event in a way that is still beyond belief.
To make sure no technical detail or character trait is missed, Howard went to the lengths of employing NASA’s technical assistance in astronaut and flight controller training for his cast. He even obtained permission to film scenes aboard a reduced gravity aircraft for realistic depiction of the weightlessness.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
12 Years a Slave is an adaptation of the 1853 slave narrative memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, an African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery and worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before his release.
In 12 Years a Slave, Steven McQueen focuses on the horrifying, yet accurate details of the conditions of the average slave in America, the buying process, methods of punishment and the role of religion in justifying actions.
While much of the story is condensed and nearly all of the most unbelievable details come straight from the book, many lines are taken verbatim. The fim has been questioned by some historians for matching the conventions of the slave narrative genre a little too neatly.