Pop culture isn't always the most reliable source of historical accuracy. Sometimes Hollywood drastically alters what really happened for effect, which is why it is so refreshing when they totally nail a specific detail.
The details don't all have to be well-documented ones like Jeffrey Dahmer's grisly crimes, either. They can be the minute details during wartime or small callbacks to the real people on the Titanic. Check out the best historically accurate details we noticed in movies and TV this year.
- Photo: Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story / Netflix
Jeffrey Dahmer's Dad Really Did Help Him Taxidermy Roadkill
Dahmer–Monster makes it clear just how disturbed the man was, even during his childhood. The second episode in particular dwells on the young Dahmer’s obsession with dead animals. The motivating event for this seems to be the discovery of a dead opossum, but it’s not long before his father, wishing to connect with his son in some meaningful way, begins to help his son taxidermy the various creatures they find on the road. It’s a strange and unsettling series of scenes, as the man and the boy bond over this activity.
Carl Wahlstrom, a forensic psychiatrist who interviewed Dahmer, revealed some of the more macabre true details behind this incident. The two would often bleach the hair and skin from the bodies of rodents which were found under the house. Though the series doesn’t include this particular detail, the family would often refer to the resultant bucket of bones as Dahmer’s “fiddlesticks.”
- Photo: Dreamworks Pictures
Jackson Has A Bruise From His Rifle's Loading Mechanism In 'Saving Private Ryan'
From Redditor u/Bromothymol_blue:
In Saving Private Ryan (1998), Jackson has a bruise on his thumb that was a common injury during WWII from soldiers' thumbs getting caught in the loading mechanism of M1 Garands.
- Photo: The Watcher / Netflix
The Watcher's Letters Did Threaten The Broaddus Children And Did Mention Greed
Netflix's Watcher shows the Brannock family receiving three letters, though (spoiler alert) Dean Brannock admits to writing the last one. In reality, the Broaddus family received four letters, the fourth occurring several years later when a renter was residing in the family home. In the first letter, The Watcher “introduces” themselves to the family, and mentions “young blood” and greed, writing,
657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming. My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time…
Who am I?… There are hundreds and hundreds of cars that drive by 657 Boulevard each day. Maybe I am in one. Look at all the windows you can see from 657 Boulevard. Maybe I am in one…
Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Better for me… Was your old house too small for the growing family? Or was it greed to bring me your children? Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them [to] me.
The second letter grew more ominous as The Watcher revealed information only someone spying on the family would know:
I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me. You certainly say their names often… All of the windows and doors in 657 Boulevard allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house…
I pass by many times a day. 657 Boulevard is my job, my life, my obsession. And now you are too Braddus family. Welcome to the product of your greed! Greed is what brought the past three families to 657 Boulevard and now it has brought you to me.
The second letter specifically mentioned one of the Broaddus kids who had painted on an easel on the enclosed porch, asking if she was the “artist of the family.” While not included in the show, the easel was a key clue to the Watcher's vantage point, as it was not visible from the street, but only from someone behind the house or right next door.
In the third letter, The Watcher pondered why the family hadn't yet moved into the house. The final letter came shortly after the renter had moved in, over two years after the initial letters. It was addressed to “Derek and his wench of a wife Maria” and was dated the day the Broadduses gave depositions in their lawsuit against the previous homeowners:
You wonder who The Watcher is? Turn around idiots… Maybe you even spoke to me, one of the so called neighbors who has no idea who The Watcher could be.
The fourth letter to the renter isn't seen on the show, and the third letter is fictionally attributed to Dean. But while some of the content of the other letters is changed to fit the fictional Brannock family, or likely for clarity, the show does include some direct quotes from the actual Watcher letters and similar themes of greed and young blood.
- Photo: The Empress / Netflix
Princess Sophie Of Bavaria Was Ruthless About Elisabeth Producing An Heir
Elisabeth's mother-in-law and aunt, Sophie, is adamant that her son's wife become pregnant and produce an heir as soon as possible. The Empress shows Elisabeth pushing back against this - continuing to ride horses and spend time in the woods - but she does learn she's pregnant as the last episode comes to a close.
Ideally, Elisabeth would give birth to a boy to put the succession question to rest. However, her first child was a girl named Sophie (after her grandmother - by her grandmother) born in March 1855. Sophie passed in May 1857, one year after her sister, Gisela, was born. Elisabeth finally gave birth to a boy, Crown Prince Rudolf, in August 1858. A fourth child, Marie Valerie, was born in April 1868.
The path to producing an heir was difficult for Elisabeth emotionally and physically, but Franz Joseph's mother may have made it worse. The elder Sophie essentially took over care of her grandchildren. Prior to Rudolf's birth, a scathing pamphlet about “the natural destiny of a Queen…to give an heir to the throne" was circulated in Austria - and it was rumored to have been written by the elder Sophie.
If the Queen is so fortunate as to provide the State with a Crown Prince, this should be the end of her ambition she should by no means meddle with the government of an Empire, the care of which is not a task for women…. If the Queen bears no sons, she is merely a foreigner in the State, and a very dangerous foreigner, too. For as she can never hope to be looked on kindly here, and must always expect to be sent back where she came from….
SS Soldiers Recreated A Famous Photo In 'The Pianist'
From Redditor u/JokingKamil:
In The Pianist (2002), the scene after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is a recreation of the famous image of SS Soldiers watching a house burn down.
- Photo: The Good Nurse / Netflix
Charles Cullen And Amy Loughren Really Were Good Friends While They Worked Together
From the moment they meet, it’s clear Cullen and Loughren understand and respond to one another. Soon enough, they are spending time together outside of work, and Cullen seems to have a particular bond with Loughren’s daughters. Just as importantly, Cullen also helps her out with many of her tasks at work, sparing her the kind of intense labor that would exacerbate her heart condition and cost her her job (as well as her health insurance).
By Cullen’s own account, the two really did share a powerful bond. In fact, seeing her friendship portrayed so realistically on screen was particularly troubling for Loughren. "It was triggering watching Charlie (played by Redmayne) because Eddie truly embodies who my friend Charlie was,” she remarked in an interview. She continued:
The way that he moves, the way that he speaks, the interactions that we have, are so real. That part of it was extremely triggering. And allowing myself to understand that I missed him for a while - and my guilt about actually missing my friendship, because he's a monster. But I didn't know the murderer. I only met the murderer a couple of times and he played this part of my friend. I missed that friendship, so it was very triggering. And then it was like, "let's get him."