When it comes to creating period films, certain things need to be kept in mind to accurately recreate the era gone by. Many times, though, we see such period movies filled with factual inaccuracies…
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Jeans
Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest filmmakers. But, even a gifted filmmaker can make mistakes sometimes. The first Indiana Jones is a masterpiece, but there’s one small mistake. In the scene that Indy is nursing a drink, you can see a man wearing jeans and a t-shirt. But the movie is set in 1930s Egypt — people didn’t dress like that then.
If you have watched Glory, then you’ll agree it’s one of the most powerful films depicting the Civil War. The acting, the storyline, everything is on point — apart from one little blooper.
As we mentioned, the story is about the Civil War and so, it’s set in 1863 — yet you can spot one of the extras wearing a digital wristwatch. It’s shocking that no one noticed this mistake even while editing the movie.
The Scottish war epic Braveheart is one of the most iconic movies — it covers so many different types of human emotions like love, patriotism, treachery, and more. It captures everything related to that period so beautifully, but misses out on one historical fact.
The movie shows its characters wearing Scottish kilts, which only came into fashion in 16th-century Scotland. However, the movie is set in the 13th century. The face paint that the characters used is accurate, though.
Dirty Dancing: Short Shorts
Another one of the most iconic movies to make the list. Dirty Dancing is a legendary movie — with a gripping storyline, top-notch choreography, a star-studded cast, and a mind-blowing soundtrack.
However, the director of this beloved film got one thing wrong. The movie is set in the 1960s — although we see Baby in short shorts. Now, they look good; there’s no doubt about that. Still, this style of jean shorts only really came around in the ’70s.
The Last Samurai: Tom Cruise’s Armor
Tom Cruise killed it when it came to his performance in The Last Samurai. He played the role of a retired U.S officer. In the movie, he’s seen fighting the war with Japanese samurai warriors.
However, the movie was set in the 1870s — and according to the time period, the armor worn by Tom Cruise was outdated. For some reason, the makers decided to dress Cruise in the armor from two centuries earlier over armor that was in fashion during the 1870s.
The Other Boleyn Girl: Portman’s Hair
Natalie’s portrayal of Anne in The Other Boleyn Girl was undoubtedly one of her best performances. The difference in wardrobe when it came to the film compared to the book left people wondering about the accuracies of that time. In the movie, we can see Portman’s character wearing a hood, which is on the mark.
Still, we don’t see a veil attached (French hood had a veil attached). Instead, we see her hair flowing freely, which was scandalous for women of rank — to openly display her hair in public. Ideally, the hair should have been pulled back underneath her veil.
Schindler’s List: Shaved Legs
Schindler’s list is one of the most heartbreaking movies. The movie has been known to achieve an emotional depth that many films can do. After all, it does depict a truly heartbreaking time in history — the Holocaust.
Although most of the storyline was accurate, there was one mishap in terms of the female characters in the movie. They’re shown with perfectly shaved legs and armpits — but the women in concentration camps would not have access to razors or any kind of hair removal tools, for that matter.
Back to the Future: Guitar
Remember one of the most iconic scenes from the first installment of Back to the Future in which Marty McFly plays Johnny B. Goode? The scene is an all-time favorite!
However, Marty (played by the beloved Michael J. Fox) uses an ES-345 model Gibson guitar. Now, while he looks good playing it, this particular model was only manufactured in 1958 — although this part of the movie was set in 1955. And no, Marty didn’t bring the guitar back with him from the ’80s…
Pirates of the Caribbean: Red Coats
Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most amazing fantasy movies. Its five installments are good indicators of just how popular the franchise is. Johnny Depp won hearts for his portrayal as Jack Sparrow. Still, the very first movie had one historical inaccuracy.
The British soldiers wore red coats, although that uniform wasn’t used in the British military until 1747 — the movie is set in the 1720s. The movie featured the Redcoats a couple of decades too early.
The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy’s Hair
The Wizard of Oz is filled with small inconsistencies. And while we can easily ignore or overlook the other ones, Dorothy’s hair is one that we cannot look past. In the movie, you will see the length of her hair change quite often.
Sometimes, her pigtails are long while other times, they’re shorter. While this inconsistency isn’t necessarily a historical inaccuracy, this kind of thing can happen because films aren’t usually shot in sequence — and many times, there are reshoots.
Django Unchained: Sunglasses
Django Unchained was set in 1858 America. While we see the titular character (played by Jamie Foxx) sporting very stylish sunglasses, historically, sunglasses didn’t exist during that time. You may have assumed that it was just a case of negligence or a mistake. The truth is, though, that director Quentin Tarantino is famous for taking such creative liberties.
He made this directorial choice to make the character look stylish and hip — and dare we say he was successful in achieving the look.
Pompeii: Purple Robes
While the purple robes in the movie Pompeii looked beautiful, if the affluents actually wore them in real life, they would have been in big trouble. At the time, purple was very expensive to make and was only reserved for nobles.
Nero — the emperor at the time — outlawed the use of purple by anyone besides him. The punishment of breaking the law was as severe as death.
The Untouchables: Kevin Costner’s Lapels
The Untouchables is set in the 1930s and follows Elliott Ness (played by Kevin Costner). In the movie, Costner’s character wears a suit that only came into fashion in the ’80s. Even the lapels — the folded flaps of cloth on the front of a jacket or coat — are all wrong.
In the 1930s, lapels were much larger and prominent than the ones seen on Kevin. In the 1930s, during the Depression, coats were double-breasted and the lapels covered half of the chest area and were pointy.
You would think that people won’t notice extras in the movie — but that’s not true. When you are working on a period movie, people tend to notice even the smallest of details. Working with such a huge crowd means that mishaps are bound to happen. In Gladiator, one of the extras is seen wearing jeans again.
We see a similar mistake in Indiana Jones, but at least jeans existed during that time period. In Gladiator — which is set in ancient Rome — denim material didn’t even exist. And people of ancient Rome didn’t even wear pants.
Gladiator: Sport Shorts
This mishap is more due to unfortunate timing rather than a directorial mistake. The Oscar-winning movie, Gladiator has a few inaccuracies — including the fact that Russell Crowe’s character is spotted wearing a pair of black sporting shorts underneath his clothing.
In one of his fight scenes, we can see him lose his footing and fall. When he rolls over, you can spot him wearing the black shorts.
The Wedding Singer: Drew Barrymore’s Haircut
Drew Barrymore’s short flipped bob cut in The Wedding Signer made every ’90s girl drool with envy. She looked absolutely beautiful. But, it turns out that the hairstyle she’s sporting in the movie was actually the opposite of what was considered stylish during the time. The film was set in 1985, after all!
During the ’80s, long hair was in fashion — and the philosophy was, ‘the bigger the better.’ So, going with this particular hairstyle was either a bold choice or just a simple case of negligence.
Troy had received some mixed reviews — while some critics praised the movie, others heavily criticized it. However, there were many historical inaccuracies present in the movie. For example, we see Paris and Helen riding the streets with beautiful umbrellas.
But here’s the thing, that kind of umbrella wasn’t invented until the 5th century BCE by the Greeks… a full 800 years after Troy was conquered. While we understand taking creative liberties, isn’t this stretching it a bit too far?
Almost Famous: Futuristic Shirt
Almost Famous has received many critical acclaims and rightfully so. The film follows a young writer that tours with a rock band in the 1970s. Naturally, the movie features some pretty iconic scenes.
However, even a well-made movie like this one had some costume mistakes. The Black Sabbath t-shirt visible in one of the backstage scenes wasn’t manufactured until 1997 — making it a historical inaccuracy to show that t-shirt in the movie.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: War Medals
The ‘which is a better movie’ debate between the Last Crusade’s fan and Raiders fan is a long-standing one. While some swear by the Raiders, many stand behind the Last Crusade — but if you’re a Raiders fan, then here’s a mistake from the Last Crusade that you can use the next time you get into a heated debate over the films.
The German officers in the movie are shown with medals on their uniforms. The only problem? The film is set in 1938 before the start of the war. In reality, the medals were given only after the war began. So, the fact that these officers donned the medals made absolutely no sense.
Pearl Harbor: No Stockings
The movie Pearl Harbor is filled with historical inaccuracies — so much so that critic Roger Ebert called it a love triangle of “stunning banality.” One of the most prominent costume mistakes would be that of not wearing stockings. The women in the movie are seen multiple times without any stockings and instead, are walking around with bare legs. This was a big no-no during those times and even considered a social faux pas.
While there are some arguments in the support of this depiction, saying that securing nylon during the war would have been difficult, this reason still seems a little unlikely.
Pride and Prejudice: Rubber Boots
Inspired by a Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice is a beloved film featuring an A-list cast. However, even a classic like this one is not short of mistakes.
While most of the things hit the mark perfectly, there’s one costume mistake that hinders the film from absolute perfection. The world-famous Wellington boots that are worn by the characters in the movie were not invented until 40 years later.
Saving Private Ryan: Black Boots
The wrong show strikes again! Steven Spielberg seems to miss out on small details time and time again — or does he do it on purpose, because creative liberties? Saving Private Ryan has one such inaccuracy when it comes to the costumes.
Throughout the film, we see characters wearing light brown and black jump boots. But the black boots were not manufactured until the 1950s — five years after the war ended.
The King’s Speech: Wrong Design of the Kilt
Colin Firth’s performance as King George VI in The King’s Speech was outstanding — both the film itself and Firth received tons of awards. The story follows King George VI and his journey in overcoming a speech impediment to make his wartime radio broadcast.
In the movie, the King is shown wearing an Irish design kilt, but given the royal stature of the King, he should actually be wearing a Scottish Balmoral design kilt.
Captain America: The First Avenger: Headset
The first Captain America may have been a box office hit but it too had its fair share of historical inaccuracies. The first movie is set in the 1940s.
Still, during a particular scene, Morita is seen wearing a headset that did not exist during that period of time. Even for sci-fi influenced period, the headphones are too advanced for the period.
Julius Caesar: Bullet Bra
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was a masterpiece through and through. The 1953 film adaption lived up to the expectations quite well, but fell through the cracks in some places.
In the movie, viewers can see many scenes in which it’s clear that the female characters are wearing a bullet bra — which was a fashion staple in the early 1950s. However, the movie is set around 42 BCE, a couple of centuries before the bullet bra was invented.
Catch Me If You Can: Braces
Amy Adams gave a hugely memorable performance in 2002’s Catch Me if You Can. The movie is a perfect blend of clever comedy and suspense. But, like other great movies, this movie too fell trap to costume foible.
The movie set in the 1960s sees Amy’s character wearing wired-metal braces. And though braces existed during that time, the wired braces worn by Amy’s character in the movie didn’t exist until the ’70s.
American Hustle: Rolex
American Hustle was praised for its accurate portrayal of the ’70s. It captured America’s ‘hustle and bustle’ culture very accurately whilst maintaining an attention-grabbing storyline.
However, even while the movie managed to capture everything else very beautifully, it made one blooper in the wardrobe department. Louis C.K.’s character was seen wearing a giant Rolex watch. The problem? That said model was not produced until 2010 — a full 40 years later!
Amadeus is considered an iconic movie — critics all over have praised the movie for its script and its portrayal of 18th century Vienna. And while the director has very nicely recreated the time period, he missed out on one important detail when it came to costumes.
In the movie, we can see many high-profile costumes that feature highly noticeable zippers. Zippers weren’t invented until 1913, well after the time period that the film was set in — 60 years to be exact.
My Girl: Mood Ring
My Girl was a heartbreaking albeit beautiful coming-of-age story. Once you wipe your tears away and take a closer look, though, you will spot one big mistake.
Vada (played by Anna Chlumsky) dons a mood ring, which is important to the plot. But, it turns out, mood rings hadn’t arrived until 1975 — a full two years after the time period depicted in the movie.
Gangs of New York: Firefighter’s Gears
Gangs of New York did a commendable job in portraying the gang war that was rampant in the 18th century. Young Leonardo DiCaprio steals our hearts as an Irish immigrant.
And while the director did take some creative liberties here and there, the portrayal of the 18th-century gang war wasn’t far from reality. However, like all the other movies on this list, this too had one prominent costume error. The firefighters shown in the movie are wearing very modern gear that was not yet available in 18th century New York.