The Real People Behind the Blockbusters Movies


Screenwriters are always trying to find the best, most exciting stories for movies. While many movies are based solely on the imagination of the writers, some of them are based on real people and events. I am one to always think that life provides the best stories, and these movies defenitely show it. But the movies only dramatisize a piece of these people's lives. What happened to them later and how much of the movie is based on reality? The below list gives you a sneak peak to the lives of the real people behind the movies. Beware of spoilers if you have yet to watch the movies.

Schindler's List (1993) - Oskar Schindler

Yad Vashem via Wikimedia Commons

It is hard to find anyone who is not familiar with this 1993 movie, directed by Steven Spielberg. Based on the events that took place in Oskar Schindler's life during the Holocaust, and most notably him saving the lives of 1200 Jews from extermination. Though he joined the Nazi party in 1939, he employed 1000 jews in his factory by 1944 and his connections helped him to protect them from deportation. By the end of the war, he spent his entire fortune on bribes to save his workers. After the war he was supported financially by Jewish Organizations. He moved to Argentina and then back to Germany after multiple failed ventures. The people whose life he saved during the war provided him with financial support throughout the years. He eventually past away at the age of 66 and was buried in Jerusalem. 19 years after his death, he was named Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli government.

Malcolm X (1992) - Malcolm X

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Denzel Washington is staring in this biographical american drama film, portraying the controversial activist Malcolm X. Born Malcolm Little, he changed his named since Little was the name that was imposed on his family by the white slavemsater. Regarded by some as the most influential African American in history and as a racist by others, it is obvious that his actions directly affected the events and opinions during his active years. He became one of the most influential leaders of the organization Nation of Islam (NOI) and was known to reject the integration idea of the civil rights movement. He eventually left NOI and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He ended up being assessinated by members of NOI. Tens of thousands of people attended his funeral.

Patton (1970) - George S. Patton

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The U.S. General George S. Patton was the inspiration for this critically acclaimed film that was released in 1970. Taking place in World War II, the movie won seven Academy Awards. Patton commanded the U.S 7th Army in the Mediterranean and the U.S 3rd Army following the invasion of Normandy. He was known for his strong, yet sometimes controversial personality, and his war speeches. He was highly regarded even by his enemies and the film helped to solidify his image as a hero for future generations. He got severely injured in a car accident moments after acknowledging the waste the losses of war are. He died on December 21, 1945 in Germany 12 days later.

The Pianist (2002) - Wladyslaw Szpilman

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One of the best known Holocaust survival movies, due to both its extraordinary soundtrack and inspirting story. Born in 1911, Wladyslaw Szpilman was a Jewish-Polish pianist and classical composer. He was forced into the Warsaw ghetto during the German occupation of Poland in War World II. He spent 2 years in hidiing until he was finally helped by a German officer. After the war, he continued his career on the Polish radio and his behind multiple compositions. He started the Sopot International Song Festival in Poland, which is still active since 1961. He continued living in Poland and died in Warsaw at the age of 88.

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) - Adrian Cronauer

Rudi Williams , U.S. Department of Defense, via Wikimedia Commons

One of Robin Williams' most famous roles is the one based on Adrian Cronauer, who was a United States Air Force Sergeant and radio personality. Cronauer enlisted in the army and became an Air Force Radio and Television Boradcasting Specialist. After his service, his continue interest in the broadcast media led him to pitch several sitcom ideas based on his experiences during the war. It was only after the sitcom was adapted to a TV movie that it got the attention of Robin Williams, and the rest is history. Though much of Williams' performance is only loosely based on Cronauer's, it earned many accolades. Cronauer passsed away on July 18, 2018, at the age of 79.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - T.E. Lawrence

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Thomas Edward Lawrence's (a.k.a T.E Lawrence) experiences in the Arbian Peninsula during World War I are the inspiration for this drama film from 1962. A dominant theme in the movie is Lawrence's struggle between his alliance to the British army and his arab comrades. After the war, he joined the Foreign Office and continued to work with both the British government and Emir Faisal, a leader of the Arab forces. He was involved in military service in different roles his entire life. Two months after leaving the service, at the age of 46, he was fatally injured in a motorcycle accident. He died six days later on May 19, 1935. His character is portrayed in many films, tv shows, theatre, and video games.

Apollo 13 (1995) - Commander, James A. Lovell Jr., Command Module pilot, John L. Swigert Jr.and Lunar Module pilot, Fred W. Haise Jr.

NASA, via Wikimedia Commons

Directed by the phenomenal Ron Howard, and starring Ton Hanks as Commander Jim Lovell, Kevin Bacon as Command Module pilot John Swigert, and Bill Paxton as Lunar Module Pilot fred Haise, the film depicts the aborted 1970 lunar mission. The Apollo 13 mission was to explore the FRA Mauro formation, but was aborted due to an explosion of an oxygen tank. Fortunetly, the crew returned safely to Earth on april 17, 1970. James Lovell retired from the Navy and the space program in 1973, and is currently 90 years old. After leaving NASA, John Swigert was elected to Congress from Colorado, but passed away before he was swore in following a respiratory failure due to a malignant tumor in his right nasal passage. Fred Haise retired from NASA in 1979 and went to work for Grumman Aerospace Corporation. He is now retired.

A Beautiful Mind (2001) - John Nash

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The American mathematician became a household name after the release of the biographical drama film, where he was portrayed beautifully by Russell Crowe. The movie follows the life of the genious mathematician, who made fundamental contributions to game theory and multiple areas in the mathematics, while suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994. He also awarded the Abel Prize, a Norwegian prize awarded annually to outstanding mathematicians. After receiving the award in Norway, Nash flew back to New Jersey, where he and his wife were killed in a car crash on the ride home from the airport. He left behind a tremendous legacy and remains an inspiration to many.

Hotel Rwanda (2004) - Paul Rusesabagina

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Referred to by some as the African Schidler's List, the historical drama takes place in the spring of 1994, during the Rwandan genocide. Paul Rusesabagina, a house manager at the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, hid and saved the lives of 1200 Hutu and Tutsi refugees. He managed to escape, along with his wife and children, and the refugees to Tanzania. He moved to Belgium, but after receiving several threats on his life, he settled with his family in Texas. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Nov 9, 2005, by President George W. Bush.

All the President's Men (1976) - Bob Woodward

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The political thriller film that came out on 1976, directed by Alan J. Pakula, follows one of the greatest political scandals in U.S history, the Watergate scandal. The movie is based on the book written by the two jousnalists that investigated the scandal on behalf of the Washington Post, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. The Watergate scandal occured in the early 1970s and brought to the resignation of President Nixon. Bob Woodward, the investigative journalist, has since written 18 books on American politics, and most recently realesed the book "Fear: Trump in the White House", which won the number 1 spot on the The New York Times Best Seller List.

Escape From Alcatraz (1979) - Frank Morris

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This 1979 film, directed by Don Siegel, follows the 1962 prisoner escape from the prison on Alcatraz Island. The successful escape attempt was carried by inmates Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin. Clint Eastwood was the actor portraying Morris in the movie, and from the picture above it is obvious why he was the perfect casting choice. To this day it is unknown what happened to Frank Morris since he has never been found. The popular belief is that he drowned in the cold waters of the Pacific surrounding the prison. A few letters and evidences have appeared over the years suggesting he surrvived, and some even suggest he is still alive today, which will make him 92 years old. However, as of today, none of the evidences have been corroborated.

Charlie Wilson's War (2007) - Charlie Wilson

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The American drama film is based on the story of the Texas congressman that during the Soviet-Afghan War supported Operation Cyclone, a CIA operation that supplied military equipment to the Afghan Mujahideen. Wilson received the Honored Colleaque Award by the CIA, though is actions remain somewhat controversial. He retired from Congress in 1996, but remained active in politics. He died on February 10, 2010 at the age of 76, after suffering from cardiopulmonary arrest earlier that day.