13 Times Period Movies Used Something That Hadn't Been Invented Yet



Copy link

Voting Rules
Vote up the things most out of place

For many, one of the chief pleasures of watching a period film stems from the picture's attention to detail. After all, these types of movies aim to immerse the viewer in a previous time period, and doing so requires capturing the look and feel of the past. However, despite the enormous amount of time and money often expended on these efforts, there are some notable examples of anachronisms creeping in. 

Eagle-eyed viewers will often notice some things appearing on-screen which were only invented after the events of the film had taken place, and these little mistakes often threaten to puncture the sense of verisimilitude the films work so hard to cultivate. 

  • Few epic films have achieved quite the level of cinematic storytelling as Lawrence of Arabia. Like the finest examples of the genre, it combines epic sweep grounded by truly electrifying performances, particularly from Peter O’Toole as the title character, a man on a mission to bring freedom to the Arabs as they seek independence from the Ottoman Empire. 

    Like many epic films of classic Hollywood, it pays a great deal of attention to detail. Nevertheless, it’s impossible for any film to achieve 100% accuracy, and this is as true for Lawrence of Arabia as it is for others. Perhaps the most notable anachronism is the machine guns used by the Ottomans. They are shown using a Browning M1919 machine gun, even though, as the name suggests, these weren’t actually manufactured until 1919, after the events the film depicts.

    932 votes

    Available On:


  • Indiana Jones Uses A Rocket Launcher, Which Did Not Exist At The Time
    Photo: Raiders of the Lost Ark / Paramount Pictures

    Indiana Jones is truly a popular culture icon. In large part, this is because Harrison Ford is incredibly charming and charismatic in the role, and he has become synonymous with this particular form of swashbuckling adventure. While his films seek to immerse the viewer in the period in which they take place, since their emphasis is more on adventure than authenticity, a few anachronisms creep in. 

    The rocket launcher wielded by Indy is a Soviet RPG-2, which was designed in 1945 and is actually still in use in some parts of the world. The movie attempts to hide this by suggesting it's a German AT launcher pilfered from the Third Reich. However, the possible models, the Panzerschreck and Panzerfaust, weren’t invented until the 1940s. Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in 1936. 

    1,090 votes

    Available On:

  • Titanic is one of those movies which looms large in the popular culture imagination. It’s easy to see why this would be the case, as it managed to be both epic and deeply intimate at the same time, situating its central, inter-class romance against the most famous ship sinking in history. It is meticulous in its attention to detail, particularly when it comes to the design of the ship.

    However, it wasn’t quite as accurate when it came to the biographies of its central characters. For example, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson speaks of going ice fishing on Lake Wissota in Minnesota. However, this would have been, quite simply, impossible. The dam which created the lake wasn’t made until 1917. The Titanic, however, sank in 1912.

    1,005 votes

    Available On:


  • Invictus is one of those films which manages to capture the key appeals of two separate genres: political film and sports film. Focusing as it does on the South African rugby team after apartheid has been dismantled, it is a powerful and stirring film. It is also grounded by great performances from both Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. 

    Though it takes place in the 1990s, it has a few curious sartorial choices which puncture the time-travel illusion. Most notably, some of the team members can be seen wearing Nike Air Legend boots. Nike aficionados know these particular shoes weren’t released until 2007-2008, whereas the match depicted in the film took place over a decade earlier, in 1995.

    507 votes

    Available On:

  • The figure of King Arthur has been imagined and reimagined many times in the history of cinema. One of the most notable examples of breathing new life into the old tale is the 2004 film King Arthur. In a clear attempt to tap into the audience's desire to see more “realistic” depictions of the ancient and early medieval worlds, the film features a grittier and less romantic take. As a result, it seems to pay more attention to specific historic detail and less to romance and glamor.

    While it does get some things right, there are a few notable mistakes. One of the most notable is the use of the trebuchet by the Picts. While the catapult, one of the precursors of this staple of medieval warfare, had been in use since ancient times, the trebuchet itself would not become a common feature of European sieges until the 12th century.

    352 votes

    Available On:

  • No Country for Old Men is often considered one of the Coen Brothers’ best films. It is undoubtedly one of their darker, bleaker movies, thanks in large part to the murderous Anton Chigurh, played with brutal intensity by Javier Bardem. Though the film takes place in 1980, Chigurh is shown using a Remington 11-87, a device with which he is brutally effective. Wherever he goes, death is sure to follow.

    However, despite its attention to various period details, this is one that managed to slip through the cracks. In fact, the Remington 11-87 was not made until 1987, a full seven years after the film was supposed to take place.

    568 votes

    Available On: