10 saddest movies based on true stories

Many movies appeal to our hearts, but often the ones that are based on true events have the greatest impact. There’s something about knowing that what you’re watching is someone’s real pain, a real struggle, that really hits home. Even though we all know that the events of these movies are completely dramatized and the characters are often created from scratch, we still love them the way they are. And when done right, they can help heal and overcome personal struggles. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone in your struggles.

Here are 8 movies that are emotionally devastating and also based on true stories.


10 Alive

Pictures of Buena Vista

On October 13, 1972, a plane belonging to the Uruguayan rugby team crashed into the Andes mountains, and the 1993 film Alive tells the story of that collision and how some players survived it all. The resulting film is brutal, but is completely rooted in fact. The film was based on the 1974 book by Piers Paul Read Alive: The Story of the Andean Survivors.

The film describes in terrifying detail the crash itself, including the plane breaking apart and how the survivors ended up having to eat the dead to stay alive before finally finding their way back to the world. It is deeply shocking, yet completely based on a true story.

9 Changeling

Imagine Entertainment

Imagine sending your son to the movies, but he never comes back. The news spreads nationwide, and the LAPD follows up on numerous leads. Five months later he is returned – but you, as the boy’s mother, are sure that it is not your son. This is a true story depicted in Clint Eastwood’s work Changelingin which the fantastic Angelina Jolie is an increasingly disturbed, frantic and ultimately entitled Christine Collins, the mother of young Walter Collins.

Shaking Changeling it easily qualifies as a “non-fiction” story, albeit one that is devastatingly emotional. Instead of listening to his concerns that this new boy is not his son, the LAPD didn’t believe him. They convinced him that he was wrong, and he even tried for weeks to convince himself that the apparent child imposter was really his son, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

In both the movie and the true story, the LAPD apologized for her insistence that her son was still there, rather than ever admitting her mistakes or believing Mrs. Collins, and accused her of being a terrible mother and trying to make fools of herself. to the police, which culminated in his placement in a psychiatric ward. It’s a scary story because, of course, Christine Collins was right. The impostor eventually admitted that he was not her son and was freed only to discover that Walter, her real child, was the victim of sadistic serial killers.

8 Schindler’s List

Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goth
Universal pictures

It was impossible for Stephen Spielberg not to make this list, but Schindler’s List might as well be its mascot. The film follows Oscar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved over a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II. Presented in black and white, the film depicts the despicable treatment of people by the Nazis in numerous soul-stirring scenes, but also focuses on the ground level and messy hero of one deeply flawed man trying to do what he can to fight back. an evil that most of us cannot imagine.

There have been questions about the film’s accuracy to actual events, but this criticism seems to be being ignored. Movies exist to contextualize truth in a story that we as an audience can digest, understand and even empathize with the main character. Schindler’s List is a deeply moving, devastating film based on the real-life actions of a few against an unfathomably vast enemy.

Related: Steven Spielberg Talks Schindler’s List Cemetery Ending

7 Fruitvale Station

Michael B. Jordan and Ariana Neal brush their teeth.
The Weinstein Company

Fruitvale StationDirected by Ryan Coogler and launching many collaborative projects between him and Michael B. Jordan, the film depicts the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old man who was shot and killed by the police in Oakland early New. Day of 2009. Instead of focusing on the aftermath of the shooting, which included protests and trials, the film wants to focus on the mundane and poignant moments in the day before Grant’s death.

Coogler worked closely with public documents, news reports and Grant’s family to present a realistic portrayal of the day he met his tragic fate. Instead of focusing on the shooting and the ensuing outrage, the film wants to realistically humanize a man who has unfortunately since become another name for many people of color who have met their end at the hands of the police.

6 Brave heart

Mel Gibson as William Wallace and other Scottish warriors
  • Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox

Mel Gibson’s Brave heart is about William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. It shows his introduction to the atrocities committed by the English against his people, his secret romance to avoid the king’s prima nocta doctrine, and his reluctant transformation into an unstoppable warrior and leader of armies before his capture, torture and execution.

While many, many aspects of this film are embellished to create a dramatic arc for its hero, the fact remains that William Wallace existed and inspired the revolution that ultimately freed the Scots from British rule. The film is beautiful and brutal, and features one of the most chilling screams of the word “freedom” ever captured on screen.

5 The flags of our fathers

Flags of Our Fathers war film with the American flag
Paramount Pictures

Clint Eastwood’s two-part epic about the battle for Iwo Jima and the famous photo of American soldiers raising the flag that would eventually become a statue is an epic achievement. Together, the films successfully empathize with the soldiers on the ground on both sides of the famous World War II battle.

In The flags of our fathers, the focus is not just on the battle itself, but on how the actual photo was taken and later used as propaganda to keep American enthusiasm for the war high. They even used real soldiers who clearly suffer from PTSD in a campaign on American soil to promote a questionable narrative that the soldiers themselves seem to struggle with.

4 Letters from Iwo Jima

Clint Eastwood's war film Letters From Iwo Jima
Warner Bros. Pictures

In Letters from Iwo Jima, Eastwood accomplishes the same thing, but for Japanese soldiers who dug incredible tunnel systems into a small island, most of which did not survive. In letters to their loved ones, it becomes clear that their orders are to dig in and die for their country.

Together, the films are combustible; simultaneously an indictment of war and the war machine – especially those who give orders to risk their lives without ever coming close to the conflict themselves – and a timeless commentary on the power of propaganda to twist any narrative into one that serves their agenda. in.

3 Titanic


James Cameron’s Titanic managed to put a face on one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, fueled entirely by the hubris of humanity. By adding a romance between poor American Jack Dawson and Rose Dewitt, whose family has the name and the money that goes with it, he managed to tug at people’s heartstrings through their completely fictional plight. Billy Zane as the suitor, Cal Hockley, played such a good villain that it probably ruined his career. The movie just worked, which is why it was until recently the highest grossing movie of all time, even though it was released in 1997.

However, the Titanic was real, and it really did hit an iceberg because of the mistakes depicted in the movie, and it really didn’t have enough lifeboats. It really did sink, taking thousands of lives with it. It’s a tragedy that sparked interest in the decades that followed, long before the movie added the faces of Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio to its story. Many of the characters in the film are portrayed as they were portrayed in real life, especially Kathy Bates as the “unsinkable” Molly Brown. The film ends in tragedy – anyone who doesn’t feel the tug in their heart is probably a sociopath. However, the true story of the Titanic is equally tragic and offers a valuable lesson about the ruthlessness of nature against human insolence.

Related: Victor Garber thinks Jack Dying in Titanic is the most believable ending

2 United 93

United 93rd
Universal pictures

by Paul Greengrass United 93 tries to show in detail something we know only from correspondence: that on September 11, 2001, the passengers on board the plane were attacked by terrorist hijackers who had taken it over and brought it down before it could hit its intended target. United 93 realistically portrays the horror of the passengers’ conditions as they gradually realize they will not survive their ordeal, and then respectfully but accurately narrates their decision to fight back (according to that little cell phone correspondence between the passengers and their loved ones on the ground).

Shaking United 93 is true as far as we can ascertain from the surviving records. The passengers on that plane were heroes who turned their desperation into courage and fought the most important terrorist attack in American history, even though it cost them their lives. It would have been easy for a film like this to feel self-exploited or overly patriotic, but instead it builds the needle tension from a believable horrifying predicament and then shows the slowly rising courage of its characters. Of course, the ending is only a fraction as devastating as what happened in real life.

1 12 years as a slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup
Fox Searchlight Pictures

The story of Solomon Northup, a fiddler who lived free in New York with his wife and children and ended up enslaved in the South for 12 years, is tragic beyond imagination. Performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor 12 years as a slave is sublime yet devastating, and the film forces us to confront this true story both intellectually and emotionally. It’s a really tough watch.

However, there’s no getting around the fact that the events of this movie actually happened, and not just when it comes to Solomon. Free men were often captured and then sold into slavery, stripped of their dignity, rights, truth, and reason through brutal treatment and backbreaking labor. It’s sad because it’s true.

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