For years, movies based on real stories have been dominating cinemas and award shows. Some are true masterpieces, and some… were rather of a disappointment. Here are just a few of the many great movies out there that are true classics that always catch our hearts. Whether it’s to warm our hearts or make us go through an emotional ride.

1. The Pianist (2002)

“I don’t know how to thank you” “Thank God, not me. He wants us to survive. Well, that’s what we have to believe.”

One powerful story that was brilliantly done is The Pianist. A film about a Polish Jew named Wladyslaw Szpilman, set in the 1930s during the Second World War. He was living in the ghettos and had everything taken away from him. He was doing everything in his power to stay alive and to stay as low as possible. However, Szpilman was one of the greatest piano players during that time.

Watching Szpilman having to go through all this grim and terror, we, as the audience, feel sympathy and a sense of emotional connection to the character. This is a film you won’t forget, nor would want to. It will make you feel like you’re there and then cherish the freedom you have. Roman Polanski (the director) and Adrien Brody (plays Wladyslaw Szpilman) truly made this movie a cinematic masterpiece.

2. United 93 (2006)

“Come one, guys, what are we waiting for? Let’s roll. Come on, let’s go already.”

United 93 is based on the powerful true story about the attacks that occurred on the 11th of September 2001 where four passenger airlines were hijacked by terrorists. The focus of the story is centred on United Airlines Flight 93, which violently crashed after the passengers and crew fought off the terrorists who highjacked the plane to gain back control over the aircraft. While United Airlines Flight 93 was being highjacked, two of the passenger airlines had crashed into the World Trade Center, and the third passenger airline was minutes away from striking the Pentagon.

This is one of those emotional and powerful films that will forever affect an audience. And it was purely genuine, no propaganda was made. The cast acted out the scenes perfectly, from being scared that their plane was being hijacked to reacting spontaneously to fight back the terrorists. It’s one of those movies you can’t help but get emotional over what the passengers had to go through and how they fought for their survival.

3. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

“I apologise for my appearance. But I have had a difficult time these past several years.”

12 Years a Slave tells the incredible true story of Solomon Northup – a free and educated black man living in upstate New York who was abducted and sold into slavery in the 1840s. Solomon Northup or also known as “Platt” (a nickname given to him) had to fight for his survival and freedom for 12 years as a slave.

This is one of those powerful films that heightens the entire audience on an emotional level. However it wasn’t just Solomon’s story that left us with a scar, but it was Patsey’s story as well. Patsey was a slave living a type of hell on earth. She was forced to tolerate the affection given to her by Edwyn Epps, a slave owner, and the jealousy of his wife that lead to gruesome outcomes for Patsey. However, unlike Solomon, Patsey had this innocence about her that even just looking at her could bring you to tears.

Steve McQueen, the director, truly portrayed slavery in the 1840s. We, as the audience, are confronted with the true reality of slavery like it hasn’t been shown before.

4. Apollo 13

“Gentlemen, it’s been a privilege flying with you.”

“Houston, we have a problem” – a movie that delivered one of the greatest quotes of all time. Apollo 13 is based on the true story of the third intended manned mission to land on the moon. A story about how NASA developed a strategy to bring Apollo 13 safely back to earth after the spacecraft endured internal damage that threatened the lives of three of their astronauts.

The movie portrays what the astronauts had to undergo to fight for their survival and how humanity was brought together to bring back their astronauts, to save their lives. Everyone put all their differences aside to bring back these three astronauts, and it shows that people everywhere can bring greatness to this world. And even if you couldn’t do anything, people prayed for their survival. It gave everyone a sense of hope.

5. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

“You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the touching true story of Christopher Gardner, a struggling salesman who loses everything after one of his inventions fails in the markets. He is then forced to live out on the streets with his son. It’s one of those inspirational movies that are not at all tasteless. It has humour at parts and twists too. So it’s one of those sad and heartwarming films. Be ready to feel every emotion a human can feel – you will appreciate life more because the film truly shares the struggles of everyday life.

6. Argo (2012)

“You really believe your little story’s gonna make a difference when there’s a gun to our heads?” “I think my story’s the only thing between you and a gun to your head.”

In 1979, the American embassy in Iran was invaded by the people involved in the Iranian Revolution – during the American hostage crisis. There were several Americans taken hostage. However, there were six that managed to escape. The CIA was ordered to get them back to the United States of America safely, therefore, their plan was to send in a CIA agent to play undercover as a Hollywood producer to rescue these six Americans.

A movie with plenty of unexpected twists, it will leave the audience at the edge of their seat. It will make you care for their safe returns as if it was happening today. Though there are a lot of bad reviews towards this film, the Iranian Revolution is an interesting topic to research on, and this just brings in more twists and turns that occurred during that time. It’s an important piece that fits in with the history of Iran. The movie shares somewhat of an untold story to the audience.

7. Lone Survivor (2013)

“There ain’t nothing I can’t do. No sky too high, no sea too rough, no muff too tough.”

Marcus Lutrell, a NAVY Seal, and his team are on a mission to capture Taliban leader, Ahmad Shah, dead or alive. After being spotted by some locals, Lutrell and his team decided not to kill them. However, luck was not on their side when the spotted locals alerted a group of Taliban fighters. A gruesome battle occurs where the NAVY seals find themselves outmatched.

Lone Survivor is based on a heroic true story, and it stars the real Marcus Lutrell. No matter what people say about American war stories, this is one that will surprise you. You will have that emotional connection with the characters and feel the overwhelming sadness when they are hurt. I should warn you that this film is extremely violent and gruesome. But the violence showed in this movie is in its pure form. Therefore, the viewer should be prepared for this emotional ride.

8. Everest (2015)

“Human beings simply aren’t built to function at the cruising altitudes of a seven-forty-seven”, “Our bodies will be literally dying.”

Everest tells the story of a climbing expedition on Mt. Everest that goes horribly wrong due to an unexpected snowstorm. A movie filled with facts and the real stories of what happened to the climbers. It was brilliantly done and cinematically beautiful. Filled with intensity, it will leave viewers feeling emotional and moved. When I watched it, my jaw dropped the whole way through, and I was just hoping for each climber to survive and when someone died I could feel my heart break a little. It really got me to connect with the characters and feel what they’re feeling. A truly gripping film you won’t regret watching.

9. The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

“Would you rather be a prison guard or a prisoner?”

The Stanford Prison Experiment is based on the real-life experiment that was conducted in 1971 by Dr. Philip Zimbardo, where he brought together 24 male students who volunteered themselves to participate in this experiment to take on assigned roles as guards and prisoners in a simulated prison.

This is an incredibly powerful and moving movie. A movie filled with twists and drama. There is so much truth in this movie. It shows what a human is capable of and how we don’t question authority – even if it’s fake authority. The viewers will feel anxious and like their sitting on pins and needles.

It’s truly a grim thought that a human, a young adult, a student, could do such things. One of the guards even explained to one of the prisoners that he acted in such a cruel way because he was conducting his own experiment – to see if anyone would question authority. It seemed like some of the guards were influenced by this, and they got drunk with power.

10. In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

“We were headed for the edge of sanity… like we were aberrations, phantoms. Trust gave way to doubt. Hope to superstition.”

I’m sure everyone would think that this movie is based on the novel “Moby Dick”, but actually, it is based on a true story that inspired Herman Melville’s novel. The movie is based on the true event on the New England whaling ship when it encountered a great whale.

Firstly, the cinematography is beyond beautiful and would leave the viewers mesmerised by its beauty. Secondly, the acting was beyond brilliant. The whole cast showed their true colours while filming this, and everyone fit their role perfectly. One of those films where you wouldn’t believe your eyes thinking that this actually happened. It’s a very emotional film and beautiful as it is. A movie you should watch on the big screen, however if you’ve missed your chance it’s worth investing in a blu ray to fully experience the movie.

11. Zodiac (2007)

“I… I need to know who he is. I… I need to stand there, I need to look him in the eye and I need to know that it’s him.”

Zodiac is based on Robert Graysmith’s book that focuses on the detectives and newspaper employees that were obsessed with a killer. Robert Graysmith, a San Francisco cartoonist, becomes an amateur detective to track down the Zodiac killer, who is still unidentified, as the killer sends letters and cryptic messages to the police. The movie was truly brilliant in a way that the characters looked exactly like the original people, and the facts stated in the movie were almost all on point.

The movie was as well very smart and not at all what you’d expect, due to the arguments being made by the police and newspaper employees on the possible identity of the Zodiac. With no surprise, every David Fincher film is filled with twists – therefore, with a movie like this drama happens when the audience learns something new. This is one of the most excellent films out there, and it will make you want to research more on the story.

12. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

“The real question is this: was all this legal? Absolutely f***ing not. But we were making more money than we knew what to do with.

The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true-story of Jordan Belfort, a real-life stockbroker who made millions by selling cheap stocks to regular people. Living the high life, Jordan Belfort then falls drastically involving drugs, sex, and numerous other crimes. The movie is highly entertaining, but it’s a story about an addiction. An addiction to power.

The directing and editing is profoundly brilliant. It has many quick cuts to let the audience feel what the character is feeling. It’s made to seem like it is some kind of gangster/mafia movie but it’s more of a white-collar crime movie. The movie will, at times, make you feel uncomfortable by how far these kinds of people are willing to go to achieve such power.

And there are people like this out there today. To know that they know that what they are doing is illegal and still doing it is such a disturbing thought. Suckering thousands out there. I’m sure everyone out there has been caught in some kind of scam someway or another, and it’s honestly so worrying that this is still a recurring issue.

13. Into the Wild (2007)

“Some people feel like they don’t deserve love. They walk away quietly into empty spaces, trying to close the gaps of the past.”

A real-life story of someone who has a passion to move on from his or her difficulties made in the past and to travel to fully enjoy life. Based on Christopher McCandless, a recent graduate who gives away all his possessions and savings to hitchhike to Alaska. During that time, he faces a number of characters that change his life.

A real inspirational film which will bring the audience to tears because of how real and genuine it is. Everyone has an element of Christopher McCandless in him or her, or you’ve encountered some of the characters that Christopher meets; nonetheless you’ll feel drawn to him throughout the whole movie – feeling a bond or connection towards Christopher.

14. The Conjuring (2013)

 “Want to play a game of hide and clap?”

The Conjuring is based on the real case files from the Warrens (Ed and Lorraine Warren). They investigated a farmhouse in Rhode Island that was recently bought by the Perron family. The Perron family experienced paranormal happenings as soon as they moved in. This movie deserves the R-rating it was given though it’s based on the scares alone as there was no sex, gore, or even swearing in this movie.

A movie that focuses on the story alone like this is one of the brilliant ones. It leaves you with goosebumps, and the building of suspense is something you don’t want to leave out. The fact that a family actually went through this is unbelievably terrifying.

There are a lot of controversies when it comes to horror films that are based on true stories. However, in the case of the Conjuring, the real-life Perron family was heavily included in the behind the scenes of the film; they made sure that everything portrayed in the movie reflects what exactly happened back in 1971 when they moved in.

15. Bronson (2008)

“You don’t want to be trapped inside with me sunshine. Inside, I’m somebody nobody wants to f*** with, do you understand? I am Charlie Bronson, I am Britain’s most violent prisoner.”

Bronson is based on the story of a hotheaded man named Michael Peterson who wants to make a name for himself, and so with that, he attempts to rob a post office. He was then sentenced to seven years behind bars; however, he was behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which he was in solitary confinement. During this time, his alter ego, “Charles Bronson”, took a leading role in his life story.

This is another movie that will make the audience want to research deeper. This is one of those movies where you might walk in not knowing a full story of what it may be about and, therefore, assuming a lot, but when you leave, you will realise how wrong you truly are. A brilliant film made with excellent directing and a masterpiece of a performance from Tom Hardy.

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