Social Studies

Slide Show Points Out Errors in Hollywood’s Historical Movies

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 18, 2009 1 min read

Back in August, my colleague Debbie Viadero blogged about a study that showed students recall more factual information when they read text and watch a movie about a historical event rather than if they only read about it. But the researchers for the study also pointed out that when historical movies have errors, and they document that many do, students are more likely to remember the film version, even if it’s wrong.

Now Washington University in St. Louis, where the researchers who conducted the study work, has put out a press release about the study that includes a link to a slide show with historical inaccuracies in nine movies.

The 1984 movie “Amadeus,” for example, depicts music composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as childish and vulgar when, in fact, no evidence shows he was like that in public. In fact, it’s believed he had impeccable manners when relating to royalty and had a professional manner with colleagues, the researchers say.

I think the slide show would be a good tool to use with high school students to send the message that when they watch a historical movie, they should be skeptical about its accuracy.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.