When the credits roll on your average Hollywood blockbuster, the audience is left to speculate about what will happen after the hero rides off into the sunset. In the case of a historical movie, however, there may be a little less to wonder about.
Some of the best-loved historical movies end without giving the audience critical pieces of context. What happened after the von Trapps escaped? Did William Wallace's sacrifice mean freedom for the Scots? Unlike many other movies, there are answers out there for the patient viewer or history buff. For many, this kind of research enriches and enlivens a movie, providing context and a larger view of the period. It also means the true history movie buff can watch several movies about the same period and allow them all to inform each other. For example, Netflix's Outlaw King takes place more or less exactly where Braveheart finishes. In this way, historical movies are actually the largest and most interconnected cinematic universe there is.
So whether you're a history buff, a completionist film nerd, or just a curious casual viewer, check out this list that explains what happened after historical movies ended.
When it was released, Hotel Rwanda was described as Schindler's List for the Rwandan genocide. In its final moments, the heroic Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) escapes from Rwanda and reunites with his nieces thanks to the United Nations.
This is where truth and fiction part ways, as Rusesabagina was not saved by the UN, but rather by the Rwandan Patriotic Front. He was transported to a ramshackle camp, where he had to forage for food. When he finally found his nieces, they were "...covered in dirt and appeared to be starving and barely alive. They had been living for months on ground-up chicken feed."
Actors: Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle, Jean Reno, Sophie Okonedo, + more
Directed by: Terry George
Presenting a story about a figure like Idi Amin is difficult. How does a filmmaker present his atrocities without the film simply becoming a catalog of misery?
The movie ends with James McAvoy's Nicholas Garrison escaping Amin's clutches to tell the truth about his tyrannical regime. However, Garrison never really existed, and it wasn't international attention that deposed Amin. Rather, his downfall was his own pride and overreach.
In 1978, Amin's Uganda went to battle against Tanzania. This proved to be a fatal mistake for Amin, who was forced to flee the country when the Tanzanians neared Uganda's capital of Kampala. He eventually made his way to Saudi Arabia, where he was paid a stipend to stay out of politics. After a quiet and easy retirement, Amin passed in Saudi Arabia in 2003.
Actors: Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker, David Oyelowo, + more
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
The final scenes of Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus are replete with emotionally gruelling moments. After their loss to the Roman armies, the slave rebels under Spartacus's command nobly sacrifice themselves for him. Spartacus then must fight one last time in the ring before being crucified as his young son looks up at him.
However, according to the accounts of several Roman historians, Spartacus perished in battle. His fight was not the start of something, but rather the end: It was the last of the great slave rebellions. The enemies of Spartacus - Pompey and Crassus - both went on to remarkable success in politics, eventually forming the First Triumvirate with none other than Julius Caesar.
Actors: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, + more
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven does not pretend to be historically faithful to the life of its subject, Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom). It's true that Balian led the defense of Jerusalem against Saladin's armies, but most of the rest of the character is an invention.
After the fall of Jerusalem, Saladin and his men laid siege to Tyre, the last Western port in the Holy Land. The news of Jerusalem's fall rattled Europe, and Western monarchs launched the Third Crusade in response. They failed to reclaim Jerusalem, although they did reverse most of the rest of Saladin's gains.
As for Balian, he was present for the Third Crusade, having remained in the Holy Land. Richard the Lionheart appointed Balian as his negotiator with Saladin, and he negotiated a somewhat favorable result from a position of defeat. He is presumed to have passed around 1194.
Actors: Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Edward Norton, Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons, + more
Directed by: Ridley Scott