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The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories

Updated August 26, 2020 2.4k votes 411 voters 30.1k views25 items

List RulesNo straight horror movies.

There are hundreds if not thousands of movies about survival, but only a choice few are based on true events. The survival movies based on true stories can offer harrowing examples of people performing extraordinary feats in the most desperate of circumstances, but those films are few and far between. Survival films often depict what really happened to people whose life is told in a story that could be inspirational or end in disaster.

You may think a survival movie like Tom Hanks' Castaway would wind up on a list like this one, but that film was based on multiple survival accounts of people who survived that sort of situation instead of a single, true event. The strict criteria for this list means you'll find the best survival movies - if and only if they are based on true events! Real stories about people surviving or struggling to overcome obstacles offer an interesting and sometimes difficult viewing of struggle, perseverance, and the will to overcome... but not everyone survives and often, these movies end in ways you may not desire...

  • The Mercy
    Photo: BBC Films
    The Mercy is a 2017 British biographical drama film directed by James Marsh. Amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth) attempts to circumnavigate the globe alone as his family awaits his return.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Ken Stott
    • Released: 2018
    • Directed by: James Marsh
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  • 2


    Photo: Togo / Disney+
    Togo is a 2019 American drama film directed by Ericson Core. Leonhard Seppala (Willem Dafoe) and his sled dog Togo are two key figures that participated in the 1925 serum run to save the town of Nome, Alaska, from an epidemic.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Willem Dafoe, Julianne Nicholson, Christopher Heyerdahl
    • Released: 2019
    • Directed by: Ericson Core
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  • The Great Alaskan Race
    Photo: P12 Films
    The Great Alaskan Race is a 2019 American action-adventure film directed by Brian Presley. Set during the 1925 great race of mercy, a group of mushers travels 700 miles to save the children of Nome, Alaska from a deadly epidemic.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Brian Presley, Treat Williams, Brad Leland
    • Released: 2019
    • Directed by: Brian Presley
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  • Jungle
    Photo: Jungle / Umbrella Entertainment
    Jungle is a 2017 Australian biographical survival drama film directed by Greg McLean. An adventurer (Daniel Radcliffe) joins a group during an expedition into the Bolivian jungle, only to find themselves in a dangerous situation.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Alex Russell, Thomas Kretschmann, Yasmin Kassim, Joel Jackson
    • Released: 2017
    • Directed by: Greg McLean
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