13 Movies Based On True Stories With Wikipedia Rabbit Holes You'll Spend Hours On
Sometimes it's nice to go down a good old Wikipedia rabbit hole. You usually don't plan on doing it, but one minute you're watching The Crown, and the next thing you know you're knee deep in information about Zara Phillips' equestrian career. But if you like movies based on true stories and are intrigued by the potential they have to lead you down a Wikipedia hole, then you might just want to check out the movies below, all of which are currently available to stream on Netflix.
Movies that are based on true stories lend themselves to Wikipedia holes, because if a film is based on real people, then information about those real people is out there on the internet. But not all movies based on real stories are the same when it comes to Wikipedia sleuthing. There are certain subjects that involve even deeper rabbit holes: royal families, wars, sports, presidents. These topics all pop up on the list below, because there are just so many links you can click on when you start looking into them. Also, Kiera Knightley, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Leonardo DiCaprio pop up on the list more than once — they love a good historical film.
1. Marie Antoinette
One of the deepest Wikipedia rabbit holes you can fall down is related to royal history. It goes on and on and on, spanning many countries and several centuries. People who you didn't even know were connected, are. And when it comes to Marie Antoinette in particular, you're probably going to want to know what her parties were really like and whether she really had an affair with that Swedish guy.
Even if you think you know a lot about President Barack Obama's life, this movie will leave you searching for more. The film is about Obama while he was a student at Columbia University in the early '80s, which means there's a lot of opportunities to look up things and see whether they're real. And, since there's obviously a lot of information about Obama out there, there are many directions in which your Wikipedia hole can go.
3. First They Killed My Father
This Angelina Jolie-directed movie is based on the memoir of the same name by Loung Ung. Ung was born in Cambodia and was a child during the time of the Khmer Rouge. Wikipedia can take you on a journey to find out more about Ung's life, about Cambodian history, or about Jolie and Ung's process in making the film.
Spotlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015, and if you haven't yet seen it, it's about The Boston Globe's investigation into child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests. If you want to learn more about the journalists or about the history of abuse in the Catholic Church, Wikipedia can help you out.
5. The Duchess
If you've seen this one pop up on Netflix and thought, Oh, just another Kiera Knightley period piece, well, you're right, but there's nothing wrong with that. And this movie is based on a real duchess: Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire. The intro on her Wikipedia page alone is so intriguing that I almost had to stop writing this post to go on a Wikipedia dig of my own. For one: "the duchess was famous for her charisma, political influence, beauty, unusual marital arrangement, love affairs, socializing, and gambling." And for two: "She was the great-great-great-grand-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales." Wow.
6. The Imitation Game
Much like royal history, war history can provide a long dive into Wikipedia. This critically acclaimed film is about codebreaker Alan Turing, who worked on behalf of the British government during World War II. Not only does the Wikipedia trail starting with The Imitation Game lead into WWII history, but also into developments in science (he invented the Turing Test) and into the history of gay rights in Britain (he was convicted for "gross indecency" for being gay and was posthumously pardoned).
7. The Aviator
This is another film that can take your Wikipedia investigation in so many directions. First, it's a biopic of Howard Hughes, and there's a ton to look at in his life: his movie producing and directing, his involvement in aviation, his OCD, and so on. Then, there's the look at other figures in old Hollywood who are featured in the film: Ava Gardner, Katharine Hepburn, Errol Flynn, Jean Harlow. You could also look up the history of the modern airline industry, which Hughes was heavily involved in.
8. The King's Speech
Hello, more royal history! The King's Speech is about George VI, Queen Elizabeth II's father, who became king after his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated. Just try not to keep clicking on those handy "predecessor" and "successor" links Wikipedia so kindly provides for monarchs.
Wanna know more about Lincoln? About the Civil War? About the history of the American two-party system? About that voice Daniel Day-Lewis does in the movie? Wikipedia has you covered.
10. Gangs Of New York
The characters are not all real, but the history is. Gangs of New York is based on a non-fiction book by Herbert Asbury called The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld. Wikipedia can let you know more about Asbury, New York City history, which characters were real and not, and how many Oscars the movie was nominated for. Next thing you know, you'll be reading about "Hell-Cat Maggie" whose "teeth [were] reportedly filed into points and her fingers adorned with long claw-like brass fingernails."
Alexander was not well received. But, if you choose to watch it for whatever reason — For fun? To see what all the fuss was about? — then you are likely to end up on Wikipedia just to see how historically accurate it is. As you can imagine, Alexander the Great's Wikipedia page is very long.
This 2016 movie is about poet and politician Pablo Neruda. But rather than being a biopic about his life or focusing on his poetry, it's about his time hiding out after the Communist Party was outlawed in Chile and the man who was sent to track him down. Neruda's life is worthy of a Wikipedia deep dive of its own, but you also might be led down paths about communism and Chilean history (or if you want to keep it a bit lighter, Gael García Bernal's film career).
It's about the 1980 U.S. Olympic Men's hockey team that beat the Soviet Union for the gold medal. You know what has a lot of history all of which has been documented on Wikipedia? The Olympic Freakin' Games.
Enjoy your viewing, your pausing, and your Wikipedia digging.