Top 10 Anachronisms in Movies



Top 10 Anachronisms in Movies

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
You'd think that the filmmakers would actually do some research before filming a movie. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 anachronisms in movies. For this list, we're looking at those movie moments where something occurred, or something was seen, heard or used during the story that wasn't around at the time in history when the film takes place. However, we're excluding those that are used intentionally for comedic effect.

Special thanks to our user jackhammer for submitting the idea at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Anachronisms in Movies

You’d think that the filmmakers would actually do some research before filming a movie. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 anachronisms in movies.

For this list, we’re looking at those movie moments where something occurred, or something was seen, heard or used during the story that wasn’t around at the time in history when the film takes place. However, we’re excluding those that are used intentionally for comedic effect.

#10: Canada’s Maple Leaf
“The Untouchables” (1987)

This Brian De Palma film follows a group of real-life FBI agents who’re out to stop infamous Prohibition Era gangster Al Capone. In reality, Capone’s criminal career ended when he was sent to prison in 1932. So how, then, could the Canadian maple leaf show up on crates of liquor he was smuggling into Chicago if that specific symbol wasn’t created until 1965? While it’s true that some form of maple leaf has been an emblem of Canada since the 1800s, the country’s signature 11-pointed design wasn’t chosen for the nation’s flag until roughly 35 years after the events of the movie. Oops!

#9: Singapore
“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (2007)

The third “Pirates” film follows Captain Barbossa, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann on a rescue mission to Singapore to free Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones’ locker. However, Singapore as we know it didn’t exist in the 1700s, when this film takes place: prior to the founding of modern Singapore in 1819, the country went by several names – none of which was Singapore. Perhaps more egregious is the fact that, during the 18th century, inhabitants of the area wouldn’t have been Chinese – as depicted – but Malay, since Singapore is relatively near the Malaysian Peninsula. Filmmakers stated that they weren’t striving for historical accuracy when producing these films; we’d say that’s an understatement.

#8: Lake Wissota
“Titanic” (1997)

Chronicling the final moments of the infamous unsinkable ship, this historic movie still includes its fair share of anachronisms: for example, the guards trying to locate our star-crossed lovers are equipped with flashlights far more powerful than what would’ve been available in 1912. But it’s Jack’s wistful story about Lake Wissota that’s got our attention. While talking Rose off a ledge, Jack explains how cold the water below is by reminiscing about his childhood ice fishing trips to Lake Wissota. However, that man-made lake was not formed until a few years after the Titanic sank, making sure this scene sinks the film’s historical credibility.

#7: iPhone
“Bernie” (2011)

A black comedy from the mind of Richard Linklater, this film is based on the true story of Bernie Tiede, a man who befriended a curmudgeonly old rich woman and ultimately murdered her in 1996. After the murder, Bernie manages to keep her death hidden from his community for the better part of a year. In that time, he answers various calls from people looking to speak to the deceased. Problem is: he takes some of those calls on an iPhone. Remember how we said this movie takes place in 1996? Remember how the first iPhone was introduced in 2007? We bet it wasn’t even a glimmer in Steve Jobs’ eye back in the mid-‘90s.

#6: Gibson ES-345 Guitar
“Back to the Future” (1985)

What’s time travel without a little rock ‘n’ roll? Marty McFly is a teen from 1985 stuck in 1955, so to keep up with the times he’s gotta pull out the big guns – which in this case, means a Gibson ES-345 guitar. All the kids at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance are getting down to Marty’s… interesting interpretation of “Johnny B. Goode” – which in itself is another noticeable, albeit intentional anachronism. The funny thing is: the Gibson model he’s playing, and its custom Bigsby vibrato, weren’t even invented yet! Basically everything about this guitar would’ve been considered futuristic in 1955. We won’t even get started on Marty’s moves [impersonates Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, etc].

#5: “Another 48 Hrs.” Billboard
“The Doors” (1991)

This biopic chronicles the life of Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, who passed away at the age of 27 in 1971. One scene not long before his passing sees the troubled rocker on a window ledge above Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the background gives away the fact that they were filming in the ‘90s: behind Val Kilmer is a billboard for the movie “Another 48 Hrs.,” starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, which came out in 1990. Sure, it’s a simple mistake; but it definitely sucks us out of the story.

#4: YouTube
“The Hurt Locker” (2008)

Soldiers on the ground have it rough as they’re constantly facing life-threatening situations, and the group in this movie is a bomb disposal team in Iraq, so you’re know they’re in for some stress. During one operation, a soldier notices someone with a camcorder, and surmises that the video will end up online. Only problem with that is: YouTube was launched in February 2005, when this movie took place in 2004. What’s more, to blow off steam during downtime, one soldier is seen playing “Gears of War,” which wasn’t released until 2006, on an Xbox 360, which wasn’t released until 2005. We guess filmmakers have it rough, too.

#3: The Map
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

Just ‘cause the Indiana Jones series is so beloved doesn’t mean it’s immune to boo-boos. When Indy travels the globe trying to locate the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis, there’s a sequence featuring a stylized graphic that shows his trajectory on a map. It’s an inventive way to move things along, but there are numerous naming errors, as the map showed the world as it appeared in 1981 – when the film was released – and not 1936, when the film takes place. For example, Indy passes Jordan – which was known as Transjordan until the late-‘40s – and Thailand, which in 1936 was called Siam. Still a cool scene, though.

#2: The Electric Chair
“The Green Mile” (1999)

Telling the story of John Coffey, a powerful and spiritual inmate who gives faith to the pessimistic guards, this masterful Stephen King adaptation is set in a Louisiana prison in the mid-1930s. Its title refers to the corridor the prison’s inmates must walk down to meet their doom, in the electric chair. However, unless that that hallway passes through a wormhole, this would’ve been impossible in 1935, as Louisiana would not adopt the electric chair as its form of capital punishment for another five years. Instead, these characters should’ve been sentenced to an old-fashioned hanging, instead.

Before we go forward in time to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “American Pie” Is Played Three Years Before It Was Recorded
“Born on the Fourth of July” (1989)
- Boeing 747 Shown 6 Years Before First Flight; Leaning on a ‘65 Impala in ‘63
“GoodFellas” (1990)
- Designer of Brooklyn Bridge Giving Speech in 1876; Died in 1869
“Kate & Leopold” (2001)

#1: Kilts
“Braveheart” (1995)

While we can’t fault Mel Gibson’s masterpiece about Scottish soldiers fighting for independence too much, there are some inaccuracies throughout the film. Perhaps the most notable mistake, however, is one of the most well known aspects of the movie: that’s right, we’re talking about the iconic kilts the soldiers wear throughout the film. While they certainly look badass in battle, that’s not what the real Scottish soldiers in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries wore, as kilts weren’t invented until the 1500s – roughly two hundred years after the events of the movie. What they likely actually donned were bright yellow shirts dyed using things like leaves or horse urine. They musta smelled GREAT.

Do you agree with our list? Which movie anachronism did you find the most annoying? For more informative top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to