It was the romantic poet Lord Byron who once wrote, “Truth is always strange, stranger than fiction.” This is still true when it comes to movies. This summer, we have a chance to take a break from the usual superhero flicks and explore some of these strange, true stories at the cinema.
The most exciting part of movies made from true stories is trying to wrap our heads around how the real person survived or made it through a difficult ordeal. Hunting Nazis, surviving a massive hurricane while at sea and rescuing a baby elephant in a time of war are just some of the extraordinary things real people experienced and lived to tell about. Watching their stories can inspire us and make us look at the challenges in our own lives in a new light.
Here are our favorite summer films based on true stories.
1. Adrift, in theaters now
Avid sailors Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) head out to the open seas for the adventure of a lifetime. Unknowingly, they sail straight into one of the most disastrous hurricanes in history. When Richard is badly injured in the storm and their boat is nearly destroyed, Tami is in charge of their survival. This story is so powerful because it’s about a young woman who must reach deep inside to find the courage and grit to save not only herself but also the love of her life. Tami is a role model for women everywhere.
2. Zoo, in theaters now
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, during World War II, 10-year-old Tom (Art Parkinson) teams up with his misfit friends to rescue a baby elephant in danger of being killed at the zoo. We love this story because it’s told from the point of view of a child who knows nothing about Nazis and war, only that he wants to save the innocent animal he loves.
3. Tag, June 15
Every year, a group of friends spends the month of May playing a savage, hilarious game of tag that involves traveling across the entire country. Starring Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner and Nora Dunn, this movie promises to take friendship to a whole new level. We love this story because it proves that adults can still have fun, engage in play and keep excitement in their lives.
4. China Salesman, June 15
An ordinary cell phone salesman from China, Yan Jian (Dong-xue Li), finds himself in Africa, where he’s bidding on the first technology to allow cell phone service on the continent. Yan unwittingly gets in the middle of a corruption scandal with a mercenary (Steven Seagal) and a local tribesman (Mike Tyson) while the country is on the verge of civil war. We like this movie because it’s heavy on explosions and includes an awesome eight-minute action sequence with Seagal and Tyson, making it one of the most intense films of the summer.
5. Woman Walks Ahead, June 29
This movie is based on the life of Caroline Weldon (Jessica Chastain), a portrait painter in the 1800s who goes on a journey to paint the famous Chief Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes). This movie is a fascinating exploration of two very different cultures coming together at a time when racial tensions in America were high. We love seeing two people from totally different backgrounds becoming friends.
6. BlacKkKlansman, Aug. 10
In the early 1970s, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first Black detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Wanting to end extreme hate and violence, Ron works with his partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), to infiltrate and bring down the Ku Klux Klan. We’re excited about this movie because it’s directed by Spike Lee, who’s a master of telling stories about the Black experience in America.
7. Operation Finale, Sept. 14
Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) was the architect of the Holocaust, overseeing the transportation and death of millions of Jews. Fifteen years after the war, two special agents (Oscar Isaacson, Melanie Laurent) travel to South America to find Eichmann and bring him to justice. This movie is a great example of two people risking their own lives to fight for what’s right in the face of evil.
8. Boy Erased, Sept. 28
When Jared (Lucas Hedges) comes out to his family as gay, his parents (Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe) force him into a gay conversion program at their church. We’re excited for this film because it has two big stars (Kidman and Crowe) who aren’t afraid to tackle LGBTQ issues and make a statement for equality.