In Braveheart, we get a lot of shots of Scottish men traipsing around in kilts. Unfortunately, William Wallace lived around AD 1300, and kilts weren’t in use in Scotland until the 16th century.
Captain America: The First Avenger
In Captain America: The First Avenger, we see a mixed fighting force of both black and white troops. It’s misleading. White and African-American troops didn’t fight together in WWII. The U.S. Army segregated them until the Korean War.
In The Untouchables, we can see the famous Canadian Maple Leaf on a couple of crates in the background. The movie is set during 1935. That particular Canadian maple leaf symbol wasn’t designed until thirty years later, in 1965.
In The Aviator, set in 1928, we hear Howard Hughes ordering 10 chocolate chip cookies. Unfortunately for Howard Hughes, chocolate chip cookies didn’t exist until 1930, when Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn accidentally invented the recipe when she substituted a Hershey’s Bar for baking chocolate in a cookie recipe.
In Django Unchained, Django’s pictured wearing a pretty fly pair of sunglasses, but sunglasses weren’t even used in popular fashion until 1929. The only people who used sunglasses prior to that were medical doctors!
In Titanic, Jack says he and his father used to have a hobby of going ice fishing on Lake Wissota. The Titanic and Jack sank into the ocean in 1912. Lake Wissota was formed by the construction of a dam in 1917, and wouldn’t have even existed when Jack was alive.
The Informant is set in the early 1990s. Apparently, everyone driving their automobiles didn’t get that memo. In the background of the film, the cars all have Illinois license plates dated to 2001!
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones hurries off to Berlin to ensure that the Nazis aren’t burning his father’s book, but the movie is set during 1938. By that time, the Nazis were well in power, and they would have already burned all the books they had banned. The Nazi book burnings happened almost a whole five years earlier.
In Forrest Gump, Apple mails Forrest a letter, thanking him for spending the money to invest in the computer company. This is a pretty cool plot point. The only problem is that the letter is dated 1975, and Apple wasn’t publicly traded until six years later.
Russell Crowe’s character is often referred to as “The Spaniard”, but the word Spaniard hadn’t been invented yet! Spaniard comes from the French, espaignart, which didn’t come into popular use until the 14th century. During the year 180, when Gladiator is set, Spain and France were generally referred to as “Hispania”.
In 300, Xerxes army uses explosives against the Greeks at Thermopylae. This makes for a pretty fantastic film sequence, but poor historical accuracy. Black powder wasn’t invented until the 8th Century AD… in China.
Back to the Future
In Back to the Future, our hero, Marty McFly, plays a Gibson ES335 guitar. Unfortunately for Marty, that was just a little too futuristic. That particular guitar model didn’t come until three years after the movie is set.
Pirates of the Caribbean
In Pirates of the Caribbean, we see Captain Barbossa eating a Granny Smith apple. Throughout the film, the apple takes on a symbolic nature, but they probably should have picked a different type of apple. That particularly sour, tasty variety didn’t exist until 1868 when it was created in Australia.
Saving Private Ryan
In the 1998 war epic Saving Private Ryan, viewers see Tom Hanks leaning against a motorcycle after he’s shot. The only problem with this is that the model of motorcycle featured in the film didn’t exist during the time the film was set. The model produced until almost 20 years later.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner, Azeem shows Robin how to use a telescope. The movie is set in 1194, but the telescope wasn’t even invented until the early 17th century. Either the writers didn’t do their research, or Azeem can also time travel.
In Ever After, we see Prince Henry at the market, offering Marguerite bricks of chocolate. The movie is set during the life of Leonardo da Vinci, who lived during the early 1500s. Unfortunately for everyone during this period in history, chocolate only existed in liquid form until 1847.
Those are some of the most obvious historical errors in major motion pictures that we’ve come up with so far. What are some ones that you’ve spotted?