It should come as no surprise that some of Hollywood’s most popular movies are filled with historical inaccuracies, fascinating bits of trivia, and all manner of slight-of-hand magic. After all, their fictional tales are designed to draw us in for entertainment purposes.
Here’s a look at some interesting bits of trivia and artistic liberties found in some of the more popular movies we’ve all seen.
The Lion King
Rafiki, the lovable rascal from Disney’s The Lion King isn’t a baboon as most people surmise. No, it’s true. Rafiki has the long tail of a baboon, but completely lacks the crested head which is a dead giveaway he’s something else. That something else is a mandrill, which is closely related to the baboon and the most populous species of monkey on earth; except he isn’t fully a mandrill, either.
For the record, Rafiki is just an invention of Disney animators, which is why he has so many inter-species markings and features. Also, Robert Guillaume isn’t any of the above. He’s the human who voiced Rafiki in the movie, its two sequels, and the television spin-off.
Poseidon and Inferno
The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno were both smash-hits in the 1970s, and the former was re-made as Poseidon in 2006. There’s also a great connection between these movies.
The bottle of wine ordered by Richard Dreyfuss in the re-make is the exact same wine William Holden gave to Robert Vaughn back in the ’70s. Additionally, the Kurt Russell character in the remake, an ex-firefighter and now-mayor, was named Robert Ramsey. In The Towering Inferno, the mayor was named Robert Ramsey.
The last place to look for historical accuracies is in an animated blockbuster like Disney’s Pocahontas. This isn’t a knock at all on Disney, or even the larger film industry, it’s just a fact of movie-making and one we accept. After all, if you want historical accuracies read a history book or watch a documentary film, right?
The film portrays an older Pocahontas who winds up becoming romantically involved with John Smith upon his arrival from England. In fact, Pocahontas was only 10- or 11-years-old when Smith arrived in Virginia. Considering he left Virginia a mere two years after he arrived, a romantic relationship between the two, even if it did exist, would never be portrayed in a family film like Pocahontas.
Her love-interest and eventual husband was a man named John Rolfe who was a minor character in the movie.
This was a film portraying the events surrounding the Cuban missile crisis during John F. Kennedy’s presidency, and specifically written for Kevin Costner.
Costner plays Kenny O’Donnell, an aid and confidante to President Kennedy. Throughout this gripping and intense movie, O’Donnell is seen at the side of both the President and his younger brother, Bobby. He constantly dispensed political advice to the president and played a key role throughout the movie.
In reality, Kenny O’Donnell played much less of a role not only during the Cuban missile crisis, but also within the Kennedy administration. While he was good friends with the Kennedy’s dating back to the 1940s, and was a tireless worker for the President, he spent the bulk of his political career with the Kennedys as an appointment secretary. O’Donnell handled a wide range of Kennedy’s scheduling-related tasks, and in fact made all the travel arrangements for Kenney’s fatal trip to Dallas in 1963. He was in the car directly behind the President’s.
Hollywood movies are fun for everyone. They help us escape, they scare us, they encourage us, and they make us cheer like there’s nothing else going on in the world. They’re filled with great bits of trivia, interesting back-stories, and sometimes historical inaccuracies that make the story flow and accomplish the task of entertaining audiences. Buyer beware, but you already know that, right?