These Music Biopics Are Filled With Historical Inaccuracies

Biopics offer viewers a chance to take a look inside the lives of significant people. These films can be about historical figures or even pop culture icons like a band or an actor. When a viewer goes to see one of these films, the audience usually falls into one of two categories. They’re either a hardcore fan of the film’s subject or they’re not educated on the person’s life.

Unfortunately for the latter category, they will usually have to do further research after seeing the film. This is because of the many times when biopics take creative liberties with the stories they’re telling. This results in small and sometimes large falsehoods. Those within the former category, however, almost always do a good job at pointing those inaccuracies out.

Here are eight biopics who have told their subject’s story while veering away from reality in the process.


The script was developed by Lee Hall, who spent many hours with John, hearing stories and anecdotes, according to Fletcher. And, for the most part, the movie fairly accurately recreates John’s life as a young boy through the ’70s.

“There could be a factual, chronological documentary that would tell you absolutely everything about what Elton did, where he was, and when he did it, but the film just absolutely explores his inner, emotional life,” Fletcher says. “We know he was at the Troubadour, but it’s really trying to communicate what that felt like, not just the fact that he was there.”

Bernie Taupin didn’t write the “Border Song” lyrics in 1967
In real life and the movie, Liberty Records executive Ray Williams introduced John to his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin. But the movie shows Williams passing along Taupin’s lyrics to “Border Song” before the two even met. That song wouldn’t be created for another two years. You do briefly see a manuscript for “A Dandelion Dies in the Wind,” which is indeed a tune from 1967.
Bernie Taupin didn’t write the “Border Song” lyrics in 1967
In real life and the movie, Liberty Records executive Ray Williams introduced John to his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin. But the movie shows Williams passing along Taupin’s lyrics to “Border Song” before the two even met. That song wouldn’t be created for another two years. You do briefly see a manuscript for “A Dandelion Dies in the Wind,” which is indeed a tune from 1967.

The Doors

Jim Morrison is perhaps one of the most enigmatic figures in rock music. His life was cut short at the age of 27, with the cause of his death shrouded in mystery. A biopic of his band titled The Doors was directed by Oliver Stone. Prior to the film’s release in 1991, surviving members of the band lent their participation, with John Densmore even making a cameo appearance. However, they have all shared their disdain for the film in the years that followed.

Their main issue being with Stone’s one-dimensional portrayal of Morrison. Their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show isn’t depicted as it actually happened, with Morrison overly emphasizing the word “higher,” which he was told not to sing. There’s another scene where Morrison locks girlfriend Pamela Courson in a closet, lighting it on fire. Although, there is much doubt as to whether this actually happened in real life.

Bohemian Rhapsody

A film about Freddie Mercury’s life and the history of the band Queen was floating around Hollywood a while before it was made. Sacha Baron Cohen was originally going to play Mercury, but had disagreements with the band as to the direction of the film. They particularly butted heads over the portrayal of Mercury’s sexuality and extreme lifestyle.

When Rami Malek was chosen to star as Mercury, the film finally went into production. Many Queen fans pointed out the inaccuracies with the story once the film was released. The film portrays Mercury as breaking up the band when he decides to go solo and grovels at his former bandmates to play Live Aid for its climax. In reality, Mercury wasn’t the first member of Queen to go solo and they didn’t break up prior to their Live Aid performance.


This movie chronicles the story of Antonio Salieri, the court composer for the Holy Roman Emperor. He is then replaced by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and is upstaged by the legendary composer more than once. The film portrays Salieri as extremely jealous of Mozart and they are shown to have a heated rivalry. However, Salieri was actually not that bitter in real life. In fact, people have reason to believe he wasn’t bitter at all. It has been reported that the two composers were, in fact, friendly and respectful of one another. This inaccuracy isn’t something the writer Peter Shaffer and director Miloš Forman have denied, though. They were open about creating a film that was only loosely based on real life.

The King’s Speech

Tom Hooper directed this British historical drama about King George the VI. In the film, King George seeks the help of Australian speech and language therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, to overcome a speech impediment. King George must deliver Britain’s declaration of war on Germany live on the radio in the wake of his brother abdicating the throne. King-Emperor Edward VIII abdicated to marry an American woman named Wallis Simpson.

Some took issue with Simpson’s portrayal, claiming it was unflattering and more antagonistic than in reality. This was a similar issue audiences had with the characters of Edward VIII and George V. The film’s most notable offense, however, comes by showing King George the VI to have begun working with Logue when his brother abdicates. In reality, he had actually started working with Logue a decade prior to that.

The Untouchables

Brian De Palma directed this 1987 film set during Prohibition. The film is about Eliot Ness and his quest to form an Untouchables team to bring Al Capone to justice. Kevin Costner plays Ness and Robert De Niro as Capone. Despite the film being based on actual historical events, the majority of the film is inaccurate. For example, the raid that takes place at the Canada-United States border never happened.

The shootouts which took place at the courthouse and railway station also never happened. Ness also didn’t try to kill Frank Nitti. He actually died by suicide twelve years after the trial ended. Perhaps the most interesting fictional element of the film was the character of Jimmy Malone, played by Sean Connery. Malone was an experienced beat cop who was actually based on Marty LaHart, an FBI agent.

 A Beautiful Mind

John Nash was a mathematical genius whose contributions to game theory, differential geometry, and the study of partial differential equations made a big impact. So much so, that author Sylvia Nasar wrote a biography of Nash, which was published in 1997. Her biography of the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician was then made into a film in 2001. The film starred Russell Crowe as Nash as well as Jennifer Connelly, who played Nash’s wife Alice.

While there were positive reviews when the film was first released, there were some who noted that it spent more time focusing on Nash’s mental health issues rather than his work. The film has also fictionalized aspects of Nash’s condition. While he was treated for schizophrenia, Nash didn’t hallucinate


This Disney classic is another film based on historical events. The film was in production at the same time as The Lion King. The animators at Disney were broken up into two groups, one to work on The Lion King and another to work on Pocahontas, with many believing the latter would be the more successful film. While that clearly isn’t how things turned out, Pocahontas was still well received. It’s song, “Colors of the Wind,” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The film’s romance between Pocahontas and John Smith didn’t happen in real life. The real Pocahontas was only 10 years old during the events that took place in the film.

The Social Network

This film portrayed Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook. It was directed by David Fincher and premiered in 2010. It included appearances by future stars Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, and Dakota Johnson. It also included Justin Timberlake in the role of Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster.

While the film received good reviews, much has been discussed regarding its historical accuracy. In fact, Zuckerberg himself has stated that there is much of the story which isn’t factual. While speaking at Stanford University, Zuckerberg said that, despite what the film shows, he didn’t create Facebook to “get girls,” but because he enjoyed “building things.” He also said that one of the things the film did get right was his wardrobe. Many other people who were involved in Facebook have said the film is more entertainment than factual.

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Joanna Fletcher
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