In the past two decades, Hollywood has taken a liking to true story movies, whether they document part of the lives of people who really lived, or spin their own take on historical events. However, while some true story films may offer movie viewers an idea of what happens to the people or locations after the credits role, others fail to give the whole story – whether it be the mysterious disappearance of the main character or a famous building’s ties to World War II Nazis.
Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Movie Endings You Never Got to See.
The 2000 film Erin Brockovich starred Julia Roberts as the titular single mother. A legal assistant at the time, Brockovich championed a small California town and took on a major energy corporation that was poisoning townspeople with carcinogenic chemicals in the groundwater. In the movie, Brockovich is able to win the town a total of $333 million and received her own bonus of $2 million, apparently showing a happy ending to the situation. However, the real end to this story isn’t quite as cinematically happy: the townspeople claim their lawyers held onto their awards for six months after the settlement, and that the amounts were significantly less than they expected because of excessive legal fees. As if that isn’t bad enough, Brockovich herself has seemingly abandoned the town, using her fame to launch a career as an environmental activist and motivational speaker.
The 2011 sports film Moneyball follows Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, who manages to build a baseball team despite the franchise’s limited budget. Beane accomplishes this feat using a new method of statistical analysis known as sabermetrics, leading the team to a more successful season, even though they don’t make the World Series. A title card at the end of the film explains that the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series using Beane’s method, but they weren’t the only team to adopt sabermetrics. Michael Lewis’ 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game revealed Beane’s exact methods that led to the team’s success, and the author has since admitted it “probably cost the A’s an opportunity or two.” So the major lesson of Moneyball isn’t just to be innovative, it’s also to protect your secrets to success if you want to stay successful.
Steven Spielberg’s 1993 historical drama Schindler’s List is based on the life of Oskar Schindler, a wealthy businessman who went from focusing on making money to saving lives during World War II. Schindler ran a munitions factory in early 1940s Germany, which he used to save and protect the lives of more than a thousand Jews before the war ended. However, because of his previous relations with the Nazi Party, Schindler was considered a war criminal by the Allies and fled Germany in order to avoid capture. Though the events depicted in Schindler’s List paint him as a hero, throughout the rest of his life he suffered one failed business venture after another, largely relying on financial support from those he helped during the war. Still, Schindler is well-regarded for his accomplishments during WWII, so at least he was successful when it really mattered.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Marking the fifth time director Martin Scorsese and actor Leonardo DiCaprio teamed together, The Wolf of Wall Street told the story of Jordan Belfort, a wealthy stockbroker who was eventually brought down by the SEC and FBI for defrauding investors. According to the film’s epilogue, Belfort was sentenced to 36 months in prison – of which he only served 22 – and has since made a living teaching seminars on sales techniques. In addition to the prison time, Belfort was also ordered to pay over $110 million to his victims, but has since paid less than $12 million. Plus, since his release he has attempted to fight the requirement of paying anymore compensation and been criticized for receiving more than $1 million in rights payments for his part in The Wolf of Wall Street. Of course, since Belfort has admitted the depiction of his drug use in the film is more tame than his actual activities, his real life ruthless nature shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
Remember the Titans
Despite being based on the true story of T.C. Williams High School’s 1971 football season, Remember the Titans features a number of historical inaccuracies. The biggest being that T.C. Williams had been racially integrated many years before, and the big merger at the heart of the film was simply combining three schools together. Additionally, according to a former player of Coach Herman Boone, he wasn’t quite the inspiring character portrayed by Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans. Though the movie notes Boone left the Titans five years after their 1971 season, it doesn’t mention that it was in disgrace following accusations of verbal and physical abuse as well as a player mutiny and the departure of multiple assistants. However, despite the way he left T.C. Williams, Boone has still largely been regarded as a hero because of his portrayal in Remember the Titans.
12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen’s 2013 Oscar-winning biographical drama 12 Years a Slave follows the enslavement of free African-American man Solomon Northup in the southern United States during the 1800s. Though Northup is eventually freed and goes on to write the memoir on which the film is based, 12 Years a Slave notes that the circumstances surrounding his death and burial are unknown. After his time as a slave, Northup became an active member in the abolitionist movement, but there are no historical documents relating to when or how he died. It has since become a puzzle for historians, with some theories including that Northup became a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War or that he was kidnapped again or, simply, that he was murdered. Of course, given what we know about the time period, and the fact that 12 Years a Slave depicts what can happen when an African-American man goes missing, it seems likely this story doesn’t have a happy ending.
The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, but the film glossed over some of the more unpleasant aspects of the famous physicist’s life. The Theory of Everything follows the love story between Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde, who marry and have children, before falling out of love and finding happiness elsewhere – while still remaining friends. However, in actuality, Stephen and Jane went through a painful divorce and it was many years before they became friends again. Additionally, circumstances surrounding Stephen’s relationship with his second wife Elaine, led many to believe she abused him. So, although The Theory of Everything’s epilogue is technically accurate, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story.
It’s widely recognized that the love story between Jack and Rose at the center of James Cameron’s 1997 disaster film Titanic is a work of pure fiction, but many of the characters aboard the ship were based on real people. One historical accuracy included in Titanic is that the band bravely played their instruments while the ship sank. However, these musicians were repaid for their services by the shipping company that owned the Titanic sending bills to their loved ones. That’s right, the family of one musician in particular, the violinist Jock Hume, was charged not only for the brass buttons on his uniform, but for the shipping cost to deliver his body home as well. According to the White Star Line, Hume’s pay was stopped the moment the ship went down and the wages owed to him didn’t cover these costs. Considering the noble actions of the Titanic’s musicians, demanding money from their families doesn’t seem like the best way to honor their memory.
The most recent film from director Alejandro Iñárritu is based on the story of how 19th century frontiersman Hugh Glass survived a brutal bear attack and managed to find his way through the wilderness to safety. One of the major driving forces for Glass is exacting revenge on the two men that left him for dead, John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger. At the end of The Revenant, Glass gets his vengeance on Fitzgerald, but his own fate and survival are left to open-ended ambiguity. However, the real story of Glass provides some concrete answers as to what happened to the frontiersman after finding Fitzgerald. First off, by all accounts Glass never actually attempted to get revenge on Fitzgerald because the man that had abandoned him joined the Army. As a result, he was essentially untouchable unless Glass wanted to face deathly consequences. As for Bridger, Glass did find the boy that left him for dead, but because it had been at the urging of Fitzgerald, he decided to be forgiving. As for Glass’s death, he was killed during a skirmish with the Arikara Native American tribe 10 years after surviving the bear attack. So, The Revenant not only takes some artistic liberties with the ending of Glass’s story, but with most of the conclusion to his mission for revenge as well.
The 2012 drama Big Miracle tells the true story of how a group of people came together despite their differing beliefs in order to save a family of gray whales trapped in the ice near Point Barrow, Alaska. Although the film does depict the death of the youngest whale, named Bamm-Bamm, it shows the other two, Fred and Wilma, swimming freely away into the ocean, seemingly saved by human intervention. However, no one actually knows if the two whales ever really escaped the ice. Since the National Marine Fisheries Service didn’t attach radio tracking tags to the whales before they were freed, we only know for sure that they left the section of the ice where they were previously trapped. But, considering their injuries, it’s unclear whether they survived the swim back to open ocean. Although many have tried to since find the whales, they haven’t had any luck, so we’re not sure this was truly the big miracle the film made it out to be.
So what do you think of our list? Did we miss any endings to true stories left out of movies? Let us know in our comment section and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one.