Throughout history, humanity has been plagued by innumerable diseases that have deeply impacted the course of our global civilization, due to both the number of lives lost and the medical innovations they necessitated. These historical illnesses, including cholera, scarlet fever, gout, and tuberculosis, have left such a substantial mark, it's rare to find a historically accurate film that does not depict the impact of one such disease in some fashion. But how accurate are they? Was TB really as scary as Moulin Rouge! made it appear? Does cholera truly spread as quickly as it did in The Painted Veil?
To depict historical diseases effectively, there are many things that filmmakers must account for in order to properly portray the unique upheaval that emerges. Between the numerous TB movies and leprosy movies, some certainly do a better job of achieving historical accuracy than others. Here are some of the better movie portrayals of historical illnesses that have come out of Hollywood.