10 best movies based on true stories
We pick the 10 best true stories that were made into movies suitable for a family audience. From The Sound of Music to The Diary Of Anne Frank, there's something for everyone...
While the new release Goodbye Christopher Robin, about the author AA Milne, is aimed at older kids and adults, there are plenty of movies based on true stories and real people that are suitable for kids of all ages.
Here is Movies4Kids pick of the 10 best true stories for kids – and all the family.
Based on the memoir The Story Of The Trapp Family Singers, this classic 1965 musical plays a little fast and loose with the facts (Von Trapp wasn’t as reserved as the film makes out, while the children don’t remember tutor Maria being as cuddly as Julie Andrews, either). Historical quibbles aside, it’s a lovely movie about how Maria comes to care for widower Von Trapp’s seven children featuring beautiful locations, unforgettable performances from Andrews and Christopher Plummer and, of course, those perfect Rodgers and Hammerstein songs (My Favourite Things, Do Re Mi, Edelweiss).
Dolphin Tale (U)
There are lots of based-on-a-true-story movies about animals, including the lovely Oddball And The Penguins, Born Free and Balto, but cutest of all has to be 2011’s story about a bottlenose dolphin named Winter that was rescued off the Florida coast. Having lost her tail, she was fitted with a prosthetic one and her adventures are fictionalised here, with Winter playing herself alongside Nathan Gamble, Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman.
Cool Runnings (PG)
If you want a true story that will make you laugh and cheer, you can’t go wrong with Cool Runnings, which is loosely based on the true story of the Jamaican national bobsleigh team’s entrance in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Just as fun and equally as unlikely (but true!) is the biopic Eddie The Eagle, starring Taron Egerton as Eddie Edwards, the determined British ski jumper who competed in the same Winter Games. Hugh Jackman costars as his (fictional) coach.
Queen Of Katwe (PG)
A Disney drama from 2016 based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a young Ugandan girl who developed a talent for chess under the tutelage of Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) that led to her competing for her country. Lupita Nyong’o also stars as Phiona’s mother.
October Sky (PG)
Based on the memoir Rocket Boys, this lovely 1999 movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Homer Hickam, a teenager in West Virginia in the 1950s who became inspired by the Russian launch of the Sputnik satellite. Together with his friends, Homer decides to build his own rocket, his first step on the road to becoming a NASA engineer.
Have the hankies ready for this sweet movie, loosely based on the true story of two little girls at the beginning of the 20th century who caused controversy when they produced photos they said proved the existence of fairies. Harvey Keitel (as Houdini), Peter O’Toole (as Arthur Conan Doyle), Paul McGann, Bob Peck, Bill Nighy and Mel Gibson star alongside Elizabeth Earl and Florence Hoath as the girls.
There have been other versions of this story, but this 1959 biopic remains the best telling of the life of Anne Frank. Inspired by her diary, it is, of course, the story of how 13-year-old Anne and her family hid from Nazi persecution for more than two years during the Second World War in a secret place above her father’s business in Amsterdam.
Red Dog (PG)
Dog lovers will adore this story of the adventures of a red kelpie (Australian sheepdog) who warms the hearts of the men in a remote mining town in Western Australia and affects all their lives. It’s a real weepie that won awards in Australia, including one for Koko, who played the title role (his acceptance speech can be viewed here:
Rabbit Proof Fence (PG)
The heart-breaking story of three Aboriginal girls in the 1930s, who were snatched from their families and taken to an institution 1500 miles away. Determined to return home, the girls escaped and used the wire fence that cuts across Western Australia as their guide. One for older kids, this features stunning performances from the girls and Kenneth Branagh as the ‘Chief Protector’ who was responsible for their plight.
Eight Below (PG)
Based on the Japanese movie Nankyoku Monogatari, this is the true story of how eight husky dogs, stranded during an Antarctic transport mission, fend for themselves in the unforgiving landscape and try to survive. There are some upsetting scenes that may not be suitable for young children, but it is a fascinating movie and well worth a look. And the dogs are adorable.