OT: History on Film

B.A.: Movies about historical events, when they aren’t completely fanciful, tend to play fast-and-loose with facts, creating characters and scenes out of whole cloth. Sometimes the changes are cringe-worthy, as with Clint Eastwood’s horrifying libel of journalist Kathy Scruggs last year, or crediting Churchill’s resolve to stand up to Hitler to a chance encounter in the Underground with a ten-year-old girl (which I believe was discussed, for some reason, right here).

So my question is: Can anybody name an historical (or biographical) film that stuck completely to the facts, at least in every meaningful way?


  1. WW: “Apparently even if I give them an airtight alibi, they’re going to find some way to use it against me.”


    (The Miranda case just made them have to admit what they were going to do, and warn you about it; sadly: never talk to the police — ask “am I under arrest?” If no, ask if you are free to go, if yes, go, if no, goto beginning; if yes, say “I want a lawyer” and shut up.)

  2. larK: It may be true that it’s wise to never to talk to the police. However, the intended meaning of the message is not actually supposed to be that whatever you say will somehow be used against you in a court of law, even if it’s irrelevant or exculpatory.

  3. WW: Yes, I know, but it’s funny how even if it wasn’t what was originally intended, it is indeed what is actually true…

  4. Carl Fink –

    We were finishing up our night time snack before going to bed somewhere around 3 am –

    Of course it should been variolation – thank you for the correction.

  5. I recall that in my childhood you could show your “vaccination scar” which was a little rough patch. Some vaccines were used not by simple hypodermic injection (or, soon, oral administration), but by scratching on skin were the liquid was beaded.

  6. @ Mitch4 – The classic vaccination scar (usually on the upper left shoulder) was caused by the normal reaction (blisters & scab) to the smallpox injection, not by scratching.

  7. Thanks for adding that, Kilby.

    I did a little more reading, and I think each of us may be half right. You are right that the characteristic scar is caused by the body’s response to the vaccine, not directly to scratching or multiple pricking of tiny needles. But I am right that there was a special technique, not the usual muscle-penetrating hypodermic needle. Some of these articles talk about “bifurcated needle”. This Canadian one does not mention that, but does say “The smallpox vaccine was given by a special technique that caused a blister which formed a scab and when the scab fell off, it left a scar (usually in the deltoid area of the upper arm).” https://immunizebc.ca/ask-us/questions/what-was-vaccine-left-large-scab-on-upper

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