ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Television and film isn't exactly the place to go if you want undeniable historical accuracy. Both mediums are well-known for playing with the truth if it means making a story more dramatic or simply more palatable for the audience. Sometimes, however, television and film producers are just plain lazy when it comes to covering up their various historical gaffes.

Take for example the recently publicity stills released for ITV's historical drama, Downton Abbey. I won't say what the historical inaccuracy is, but have a look and see if you can spot it for yourself:

Can you spot it? Yep, that's right, apparently in the 1920s version of Britain, the aristocracy loved taking swigs of overpriced mineral water from plastic bottles.

The gaffe has been spread around social media and the internet like an historically dishonest wildfire, which is especially embarrassing since ITV like to claim Downton Abbey sticks close to the historical truth.

Of course, this water bottle was most likely mistakenly included in the photo, but perhaps there's another possibility? Perhaps, Downton Abbey is set in a modern day mental hospital in which all the patients believe it's the 1920s? It would actually make the show more exciting as far as I'm concerned.

As I said, movies and television are filled with such historical mistakes. Let's take a look at six of them below:


Now, Braveheart is absolutely chock full of historical inaccuracies, from the presentation of William Wallace as a peasant, to his apparent affair with the English king's daughter-in-law, Isabella - who was only three at the time the film was set. However, see if you can spot the glaring historical inaccuracy in the picture below:

Having trouble? Well, the truth is, the Scottish didn't start wearing kilts until 400 years after the time the film was set. Furthermore, they hadn't painted their faces in battle for more than 1,500 years. This led historian Sharon Krossa to compare Braveheart's inaccuracy to a "film about Colonial America showing the colonial men wearing 20th century business suits, but with the jackets worn back-to-front." Basically Mel Gibson certainly exercised his creative FREEEEEEEDOM with this film.

Game of Thrones

Westeros is a mysterious world, but apparently it is not so unlike our own. Among all the blacksmiths, markets and slums of King's Landing there is also apparently several franchised coffee outlets. Indeed, it seems Jaime Lannister needed a pick-me-up to get through King Joffery's wedding (oh and his hand has grown back):

Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately depending on your opinion) this gaffe was only part of rehearsal footage and didn't make it into the final show - which if you ask me, is a colossal shame.

The Hurt Locker

Katherine Bigalow's Iraqi war drama was an exploration of one man's journey through the hell of war, however did you know The Hurt Locker also included a hidden time traveler?

One character remarks that an Iraqi with a video camera was "getting ready to put this on Youtube". Unfortunately, Youtube wasn't launched until 2005, one year after the time the film was set. Where did people go to watch funny videos of cats before 2005?


Edward Zwick's American Civil War drama, Glory, purported to be a truthful telling of the actions of the first unit in the US Army to be made up entirely of African-American men. That it may be, but that doesn't mean there wasn't the odd historical gaffe. Check out the picture below and see if you can spot it?

That's right. Many of the young extras forgot to remove their digital watches from the 1980s.


You could also write a lengthy treatise on the historical inaccuracies of Gladiator, but there is one gaffe which when seen, cannot be unseen.

During the Spaniard's first battle in the Colosseum (by the way, the term Spaniard didn't exist until about 1,400 years later), we see various charioteers speeding around the arena. How are they going so fast? Well, the answer is clear. With nitro! Take a look at the video below:

Of course, in reality, this is a gas cylinder which is used to flip the chariot, but I can guarantee now you've seen it, you'll spot it every time you watch Gladiator. Mentioning this to your friends will make you really popular.


Surprisingly, for a movie featuring a dude riding a rhino, 300 did get some historical facts right, including Leonides' various badass quotes. However, there is an extremely subtle historical gaffe which even Zack Snyder's highly stylized world can't explain. Can you spot it below:

Look closely. Really, really closely. Can't see it? Well, it is pretty tough to spot, but if you look into Gerard Butler's mouth, you can spot he has metal alloy fillings in his back teeth. Fillings like these weren't used until at least the seventh century AD.


Which of these historical gaffes is most unacceptable?


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