All too often, highly fictionalized cinematic depictions of the past are accepted as the unassailable truth by those unfamiliar with the "real" account. This book profiles sixty movies that portray actual moments in history, and compares the mythologized account of each event to what really happened. Movies chronicled include The Ten Commandments, Spartacus, A Man for All Seasons, Gladiator, Gandhi, Apollo 13, The Thin Red Line, Dances with Wolves, Braveheart, The Last Emperor, All the Presidents Men, Mutiny on the Bounty, Gone with the Wind, Bonnie & Clyde, Patton, and Elizabeth. Sanello also contrasts several historical figures with their filmed treatments, including Julius Caesar, Henry V, Christopher Columbus, Joan of Arc, Sir Thomas More, Jesus Christ, Catherine the Great, Sigmund Freud, and Harry Houdini. Lavishly illustrated with sixty film stills, Reel v. Real shows how a happening's genuine details are frequently reshaped and distorted by Hollywood's bottomless appetite for over-the-top flamboyance and melodrama.
Frank Sanello, author of Julia Roberts: Pretty Superstar, Stallone: A Rocky Life, and Don't Call Me Marky Mark: The Unauthorized Biography of Mark Wahlberg, lives in West Hollywood, California.