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(Aired as "The Real Story" in the US on The Smithsonian Channel) Braveheart, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, True Grit, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Master and Commander. These films achieved enormous success, but in bringing them to the big screen, the truth was often left behind. Now, separate fact from fiction and real life from reel life.


Saisons & épisodes Les résumés de tous les épisodes de The True Story

S01E01 Indiana Jones 16/04/2008 Documentary from award-winning director David Hickman exploring how the story of Indiana Jones was inspired by the real exploits of Roy Chapman Andrews - an American explorer and naturalist. Andrews was best known for a series of perilous expeditions to the Far East that resulted in a number of important discoveries - much like the star of Spielberg's famous movie series.
S01E02 James Bond 23/04/2008 A documentary chronicling the life of James Bond creator Ian Fleming and what led him to create his famous spy.
S01E03 Escape from Alcatraz 30/04/2008 Historical documentary examining a remarkable escape attempt from Alcatraz prison. In June 1962, three inmates successfully broke out of the jail and took to the waters of San Francisco Bay in a makeshift raft, never to be seen again.
S01E04 Al Capone and the Untouchables 07/05/2008 Using interviews, exclusive footage and dramatic reconstructions, this documentary explores the true story of how a small group of law enforcers led by Eliot Ness brought down notorious Mafia boss Al Capone in 1930s Chicago.
S01E05 Amityville Horror 14/05/2008 On 13 November 1974, police discovered six members of the De Feo family shot dead; the father, mother and four of the five children, at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. Attention turned to Ronald, the only child to survive the ordeal. He was soon declared guilty of the murders, his motivation supposedly being that he did not get on with his father and saw the killings as retribution for the years of hell his Dad had put him through. After the trial, a newlywed couple in search of their dream home bought the house. But one month later the couple fled from the house claiming it was possessed with demonic spirits. They organised for two psychics to enter the house and carry out a séance. The supposed ghosts they identified were those of Native American Indians. The piece of land where the house had been built had been a place where sick and insane members of the tribe were isolated until they died. This revelation became a national story. It wasn’t long before the book Amityville Horror shot to the top of the best seller list and a blockbuster movie followed. But the next chapter is a remarkable twist. Two paranormal investigators began delving into the case and eventually revealed that the hauntings were an elaborate hoax – concocted as a money making con. In this episode of The True Story, we meet the key people behind this amazing story.
S01E06 The Hunt For Red October 26/11/2009 In 1975, a disgruntled Soviet officer led a mutiny on board a state-of-the-art Russian warship. Unlike the movie captain portrayed by Sean Connery, this maverick sought to cause a revolution in his own land – and almost sparked a war in the process. In 1984, an insurance salesman-turned-author named Tom Clancy published his bestseller, ‘The Hunt for Red October’. The book, and the 1989 film starring Sean Connery, depicted the hijacking of a Russian nuclear submarine by a Soviet captain determined to defect to the West. Yet, as this documentary reveals, the story that inspired Clancy’s fiction was equally dramatic. Clancy’s book had its roots in an uprising on the Soviet frigate Storozhevoy, or Sentry, in November 1975. The mutiny was instigated by Political Officer Valery Sablin, the second-in-command, who had grown unhappy with corruption in the Soviet state. “He saw the party elite line their pockets with oil contracts and diamond mines,” explains historian Gregory Young. Infuriated by a state of affairs that saw workers living in poverty, Sablin, a committed communist, decided to spark a new revolution. Sablin’s plan was to seize the Sentry in Riga and sail it up the Baltic Sea to Leningrad, where he would launch an uprising. He began by locking the captain in a compartment and calling the ship’s 16 officers to a meeting. With impassioned rhetoric, Sablin tried to persuade them to back the mutiny. “It really was the speech of his life,” says Young. In the event, the officers were split down the middle. Some, including Lt Boris Gindin, saw folly in the plan. “He was going against the military Russian machine that could destroy you in a second,” he says. Gindin and seven others were locked in the hold by the plotters. However, Sablin’s plan to sail out of Riga as part of a convoy was dashed when one of the officers who had voted to back him slipped off the ship and went to raise the alarm. Sablin had no choice but to sneak out of the harbour and head for intern
S01E07 The Bourne Identity 27/12/2009 This documentary explores the real-life CIA history that inspired the Jason Bourne movies. Robert Ludlum’s amnesiac super-spy is a highly skilled secret agent, trained to work secret ‘black ops’. The origins of his character lie in genuine CIA programmes to brainwash people into becoming assassins – including shocking experiments that endangered the lives of psychiatric patients. Jason Bourne is the super-skilled CIA spy with no memory of his past life. He is trained to assassinate enemies of the USA without the knowledge of the government. Bourne was created by author Robert Ludlum and portrayed by Matt Damon in a trilogy of films beginning with 2002’s ‘The Bourne Identity’. Ludlum used his contacts within the CIA to make his novels as realistic as possible. He even used a real-life assassin, Carlos the Jackal, as the villain. For the first Bourne movie, director Doug Liman was inspired by another true story. He changed the villain from an individual to an organisation – a secret cell within the CIA known as ‘Operation Treadstone’. He based this cell on the one exposed by the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s, when members of the CIA were found to be operating black ops in Nicaragua. Liman had a personal connection with the Iran-Contra scandal because his father led the investigation. “I got to see how spies worked in the real world,” he says. “Bourne wouldn’t be Bourne if it weren’t for the fact that my father ran this investigation.” The guilty parties in the Iran-Contra affair provided the template for the villains in ‘The Bourne Identity’. Liman also ensured that Jason Bourne’s skills matched those of elite agents – including his stunt driving skills and his ability to fight in confined spaces. “He keeps moving, he’s got good balance and he uses whatever’s around him to accomplish his mission,” says combat instructor Brandon Sommerfield. Bourne is primed to withstand torture techniques such as waterboarding. Remarkably, real-life agents are trained th
S01E08 Silence of the Lambs 07/01/2010 Silence of the Lambs tells the story of a young ambitious FBI profiler Clarice Starling as she pursues the serial killer Buffalo Bill with the help of convicted psychopath Hannibal Lecter. While researching the book on which the film was based, author Thomas Harris spent days with the FBI’s pioneering Behavioural Science Unit, questioning criminal profilers and immersed in the case-files of serial killers. Now, we reveal the movie’s real-life inspirations: serial killer Ted Bundy who, like psychiatrist Lecter, evaded capture with his charming, young lawyer persona; Ed Gein, whose sickening crimes echo the movie exploits of Buffalo Bill; and a young female FBI agent who helped Harris create Agent Starling. We also explore how Silence of the Lambs revolutionised the make-up of the profession, inspiring many women to become profilers, and reveal chilling footage of one such female entrant interviewing Gary Ridgway, considered America’s most prolific serial killer.
S02E01 The Boston Strangler 27/02/2007 Exploring the truth behind the murders of several women in Boston, Massachusetts, in the early 1960s. Were they the work of one person?
S02E02 Bermuda Triangle 13/03/2007 The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and surface vessels allegedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Popular culture has attributed these disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings. The Bermuda documentary will show documented evidence indicates that a significant percentage of the incidents were inaccurately reported or embellished by later authors, and numerous official agencies have stated that the number and nature of disappearances in the region is similar to that in any other area of ocean.
S02E03 Pirates of the Caribbean 20/03/2007 There may not have been ghost ships laden with cursed sailors, but the Caribbean was indeed once full of Pirates. In this exciting hour we bring you four stories of real pirates that once wreaked havoc on the Caribbean and beyond. We’ll introduce Captain Kidd who plundered his way to the end of a noose and Black Beard, quite possibly the most famous pirate of all time. We’ll look at Anne Bonny and Mary Read, two female pirates who became friends and shipmates, and we’ll also highlight Sir Henry Morgan, one of the few pirates actually to have been knighted. Go go underwater to discover the remains of Black Beard’s ship and see how pirates have been depicted in TV and film, including Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. We’ll meet modern-day treasure hunters and maybe even someone who has had a run in with pirates today.
S02E04 Blood Diamonds 20/11/2007
S02E05 Jonestown Cult Suicides 13/11/2007
S02E06 The Philosopher's Stone 24/04/2007 Documentary examining the medieval myth of the Philosopher's Stone, a Holy Grail-type relic which supposedly held the key to alchemy and immortality. Many noted alchemists and adventurers searched obsessively for the artifact hoping to learn its powerful secrets, a quest which allegedly drove some to madness and others to celestial encounters.
S02E07 Olympic Massacre 04/12/2007
S02E08 The Anastasia Mystery 03/04/2007
S02E09 Frankenstein 06/02/2007
S02E10 Casino 10/12/2009 The historical documentary strand continues with an exploration of the events that inspired the Martin Scorsese movie ‘Casino’. The 1995 film was based on the true story of a murderous enforcer who ruled Las Vegas for the Chicago mob. Only a highly organised FBI operation was able to expose the criminal tentacles flowing through the city’s underbelly. In the 1970s, Las Vegas was ruled by the Chicago mob. Around $1million was siphoned from the top three casinos each month to line the pockets of mob bosses in the Windy City. One of the mafia’s key men in Vegas was a ruthless enforcer named Tony Spilotro, who inspired the Nicky Santoro character played by Joe Pesci in ‘Casino’. Spilotro was sent to protect the mafia’s take – known as the ‘skim’ – from light-fingered employees. Despite orders to keep a low profile, Spilotro fuelled a wave of violence. In his first three years in Vegas, more people died in gangland murders than in the previous 25. Spilotro also established his own burglary ring – the ‘hole-in-the-wall gang’ – which targeted wealthy homes in the suburbs. By 1979, Spilotro’s activities had come to the attention of the FBI, who were keen to impose law and order on the desert town. “We had to come in here and replant the American flag,” recalls former agent Emmett Michaels. A huge FBI surveillance operation recorded thousands of hours of illicit conversations. Agents even dressed up as maintenance men in order to infiltrate mob dens and plant bugs. In late 1979, an increasingly paranoid Spilotro learned that one of his underlings, Jerry Linser, had turned informant. He ordered his right-hand man, Frank Cullotta, to deal with Linser. “I went over to Linser’s house that same night, I opened up the door and that’s when I proceeded to kill him,” recalls Cullotta. By killing a state’s witness, the mobsters had raised the stakes. The FBI redoubled its efforts and began to follow the money flowing from Vegas to Chicago. Agents watched casino employee Ph
S02E11 The Exorcist 16/12/2009 This documentary explores the real-life incident that inspired the 1973 film ‘The Exorcist’. In 1949, Catholic priests attempted to exorcise a 13-year-old boy who was seemingly possessed by demons. The event inspired William Peter Blatty to write his bestselling novel, but modern-day scientists now pour doubt on the veracity of the tale. In 1949, a 13-year-old boy in Cottage City, Maryland was apparently possessed by demons. The boy, who has never spoken about his ordeal and has never been identified, demonstrated extreme behaviour shortly after the death of his beloved aunt. The family experienced strange noises around the house and the boy’s bed began to shake violently. After bizarre markings appeared on his skin, the parents turned to the local hospital for help. When this proved fruitless, they called upon local priest Father Albert Hughes. The late Father Hughes’s colleague, Father Frank Bober, recalls the priest’s first meeting with the boy. “He noticed a very dark stare – almost as if there was nothing behind the eyes,” he says. When Hughes asked the boy his name, he replied, “I am legions” – indicating that numerous spirits had taken up residence inside his body. Hughes attempted the then little-known practice of exorcism to dispel the demons – to no avail. The family sought treatment in St Louis, where a priest named Father William Bowdern decided to embark upon nightly exorcisms. “Father Bowdern doesn’t want to do it. He doesn’t feel he has the training, but he feels obliged to help the kid,” explains author Tom Allen. The exorcism lasted six weeks, during which time the child swore, struggled and displayed fits of seemingly superhuman strength. Then, abruptly, his symptoms ended. The boy and his family returned to a life of relative obscurity. Decades later, author William Peter Blatty became fascinated by the tale. After reading Bowdern’s diary, he received a letter from the priest. At the end of the letter, the priest asserted his belief in th
S02E12 Amelia Earhart Conspiracy 06/03/2007
S03E01 True Grit 12/02/2012 True Grit has all the elements of a classic Western film – revenge, retribution and redemption. Based on the book by Charles Portis, True Grit was an instant sensation when it hit the silver screen the first time. The film starred the legendary John Wayne who gave a tour-de-force performance as Rooster Cogburn, earning him his only Oscar. Four decades later the Coen Brothers put their own unique spin on this classic and proved that audiences still have a big appetite for Westerns. The story centers on the unlikely partnership between Mattie, a prim, sharp-tongued 14 year-old girl and Rooster Cogburn, the grizzled, one-eyed deputy Marshal, who join forces to avenge her father’s death. Their hunt takes them deep into Indian Territory, a haven for murderers, thieves and rapists. Hangings, shoot-outs and kidnappings are only a few of the dangers they encounter in their quest for revenge. In traditional Westerns there’s no confusing who’s who - the good guys wear white hats and the bad guys wear black hats. The True Story will show how True Grit turns this archetype on its head. Its hero, Rooster Cogburn, always shoots first and asks questions later. He walks a fine line between good and evil and we discover that in the real Wild West outlaws and lawmen were often interchangeable. Rooster Cogburn is a larger-than-life character who couldn’t be anything other than fictional. But, The True Story will reveal that there was a one-eyed deputy Marshal who was just as nasty and ruthless as Rooster. In a time before feminism could someone like Mattie have existed – a headstrong young girl who has no compunction about hiring a ruthless man hunter like Rooster. The True Story reveals that the West attracted legions of non-conforming women because it offered them opportunities they couldn’t find anywhere else. Mavericks like Calamity Jane who dressed like a man and was just as tough and skilled with a gun as the best of them. The True Story travels to Fort Smith, Arkansas, the
S03E02 Saving Private Ryan 14/02/2012 Historians, eye-witnesses, weapons and forensics experts provide compelling new insights into the facts behind the classic film.
S03E03 Braveheart 21/02/2012 Braveheart – Mel Gibson’s Oscar winning box office smash of 1995 tells the story of real life Scottish rebel and freedom fighter William Wallace. With savage battle scenes, a cast of thousands and a tragic love story at its heart, it is a sweeping historical epic brought to the screen with stunning photography set amongst the highlands of Scotland. But ever since it was first shown historians have asked questions about the accuracy of the movie. No one doubts that William Wallace was a real historical character - as was Edward 1st, Robert the Bruce, and many others who feature in the film. But was he really the “ordinary joe” made good portrayed by Mel Gibson, and did his life unfold in the way Braveheart depicts? Interviewing script-writer Randall Wallace we discover that the inspiration for the movie was the stories generated by an ancient Scottish poem about the life of Wallace. But an analysis by modern historian’s show that this poem, as much as any movie, was designed to create a legend rather than explain history. Scottish medieval expert Fiona Watson sets out to discover the story of the historical Wallace. With little to go on but a few mentions in ancient manuscripts, a weather-beaten sword, an eroded seal and a remarkable letter sent to the German city of Lubeck in 1297, she peels back the layers of legend to paint a compelling portrait of a man who is nothing like his Hollywood counterpart. Instead of a simple swash-buckling hero who will never bow down to the English and who takes up arms because of a lost love, the real Wallace is a much darker, more complex character. Caught up in the politics of the age, for a while fortune smiles on the real Wallace, but then he is confronted by a greater power, which brings about his ultimate destruction – and future martyrdom. Fiona is helped in her analysis by battlefield Historians Chris Brown and Michael Prestwich. They reveal just how the Scots triumphed against the odds to beat the English at the Battle o
S03E04 Apollo 13 28/02/2012 Apollo 13, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks grossed 62 million dollars at the box office and was nominated for nine academy awards. The movie tells the story of America’s ill-fated third mission to the moon in the summer of 1970. Based on the book co-written by Apollo 13 commander James Lovell, the film enshrined in the English language the phrase “Houston, we have a problem”. And it changed forever the way people relate to what has been called the most successful failure in the history of space exploration. The True Story shows how Hollywood plucked this amazing story from obscurity and turned what NASA feared would be an embarrassing stain on its reputation into a fascinating tale of how 3 astronauts, with the support of a group of brilliant engineers, overcame staggering odds and survived. The documentary explores the amazing feat of heroism and ingenuity that rescued the three astronauts from their crippled spacecraft two hundred thousand miles from earth and brought them home. It reveals the almost unbearable conditions the astronauts had to suffer through: Intense cold, dangerous levels of carbon dioxide and crushing physical exhaustion. But how close to the truth was Hollywood’s portrayal of the story? The True Story will investigate the real cause of the explosion that killed Apollo 13. It was not, as the movie tells us, the result of a damaged coil in one of the oxygen tanks. It was a spectacular blunder; a mistake that no one at NASA caught. We’ll show how one of the cheapest and simplest components on the spacecraft caused its undoing. Well put some of those big movie moments to the test: How close were the astronauts to succumbing to carbon dioxide poisoning? And who was the real hero who rigged up the air filter that saved their lives? Ultimately, the Apollo 13 movie succeeded in telling audiences a great deal about the actual mission. But you won’t know what really went on until you watch The True Story.
S03E05 The Bridge On The River Kwai 07/03/2012 Made famous by Hollywood movie, the bridges of the River Kwai emblematize one of the most misunderstood events in history. Contrary to the romanticized film version, the structures represent a period of terror, desperation, and death for over 16,000 POWs. The Thailand - Burma Railway was the vision of the Japanese Imperial Army: a 250-mile track cut through dense jungle that would connect Bangkok and Rangoon. To accomplish this nearly impossible feat, the fanatical and ruthless Japanese engineers used POWs and local slaves as manpower. Candid interviews with men who lived through the atrocity - including Dutch, Australian, British, and American POWs - illuminate the violence and horror of their three-and-a-half-year internment. From Britain's surrender of Singapore the enduring force of friendship, The True Story Of The Bridge On The River Kwai narrates a moving and unforgettable account of a period in history that must be remembered.
S03E06 Alexander The Great 14/03/2012 Arguably the most brilliant and courageous warrior in recorded history, a man whom many considered not a mere mortal, but a god. The True Story of Alexander the Great. One of conquest, love, hate, revenge and ultimately tragedy... In the year 334 BC, a 20 year old military commander from Northern Greece set out to conquer what was then the known world. His name was King Alexander of Macedon. During the next 12 years, he led 40,000 troops more than 20,000 miles, defeating the most powerful ruler on Earth, King Darius of Persia, and conquering all of Asia. He died of a battle wound at the age of 32, but his legendary conquests have been celebrated and studied for more than 2000 years. Today, we know him as Alexander the Great. Hosted by Peter Woodward, the program takes viewers to the Greek locations of Alexander's youth: his father King Philip II's palace in Macedonia, the caves where he was tutored by the famous philosopher Aristotle, the battlefields where he fought by his father's side, the amphitheatre where Alexander watched helplessly as Philip was assassinated. Guided by accounts of ancient historians portrayed by actors, and interviews with the world's most respected modern-day Alexander scholars, this journey continues with visits to the actual battlefields in Turkey and Lebanon where Alexander's troops, though heavily outnumbered, emerged victorious. Alexander's signature battle plans and weaponry are examined and demonstrated using re-enactors and state-of-the art computer graphics.
S03E07 The Black Sheep Squadron 21/03/2012
S03E09 Charlie Wilson 28/12/2007 You've seen Hollywood's version of this remarkable tale, now take the opportunity to look behind the scenes and find out how boisterous Texas congressman Charlie Wilson and aggressive CIA operative Gust Avrakotos (aka "Dr. Dirty") really armed the Afghan Mujahideen in the most expansive campaign in CIA history. The effects of Wilson and Avrakotos' efforts are still being felt around the globe nearly two decades after the fact, making their story as relevant in the new millennium as it was when they first began plotting together back in the 1980s.
S03E10 The Mary Celeste 04/11/2007 On the 5th of December 1872, the American-registered brigantine, the Mary Celeste, was found drifting in the Atlantic. The ship was in good condition. Its cargo was intact. However the 10 people on board were missing without trace. An official inquiry in Gibraltar failed to find the cause of their disappearance and since then, rumour, wild speculation and many theories have been proposed. In the 135 years that have passed, the mystery of this "ghost ship" has never been solved - until now. This is not another re-telling of this famous story or another theory which cannot be proved. A four-year investigation for this programme has turned up new information including a transcript of the ship's lost log. Now, vital new clues have enabled an international team of experts to finally solve what is widely regarded as the greatest mystery of the sea.
S03E13 The Internet 00/00/0000
S04E01 Waynes World 00/00/0000
S04E02 Jaws 03/03/2011 Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is one of the most successful movies of all time. According to the author of the novel behind the movie, the story is based on a spate of shark attacks off the cost of New Jersey in 1916, which left four people dead. The savageness of the attacks dramatically altered the scientific view of Great Whites. And Jaws cemented their reputation as terrifying man-eaters. More recently however, new evidence shows that the Great White may have been unfairly blamed for the 1916 attacks. This documentary conducts new scientific tests using handwritten descriptions of the wounds of the 1916 victims. And, returning to the scenes of the attacks, it explores whether a Great White could really have come so close to land, finally revealing the identity of the real culprit.
S04E03 Titanic 07/01/2011 Titanic is one of the top grossing movies of all time. Apart from the love story, most of the background events are accurate – with great attention to detail. But the culmination of a three year research project has revealed a new discovery. Another ship steamed to within five miles of the stricken liner and could have saved all aboard. Instead, on the orders of its fearful captain, it turned back, leaving the passengers to drown. Survivors of the wreck recalled seeing a “mystery ship” which refused to come to their aid. For decades the wrong man, Captain Stanley Lord of the Californian, bore the blame. Now, for the first time on television, we set the record straight, cross-referencing eye witness testimony from 1912, with Bob Ballard’s discovery of where the Titanic sank. We draw on archive footage, and present an astonishing voice recording that Captain Lord made in 1961, in which he reveals the identity of the man who abandoned the drowning passengers.
S04E05 Gladiator 21/04/2011 The historical figures who inspired the characters in the Ridley Scott film Gladiator, including Emperor Commodus, who in reality was even crueller than Joaquin Phoenix's on-screen portrayal.
S04E06 Jurassic Park 18/01/2011 This documentary reveals the science behind Jurassic Park is based on rigorous scientific research and that the key character at the centre of the film is inspired by a real life individual. The vision of how dinosaurs could be bought back to life has now been shown to be impossible. But this documentary will feature recent remarkable breakthroughs in biology that would allow dinosaurs to walk again. Using cutting edge evolutionary biology, scientists are getting closer to bringing the dinosaur back to life.
S04E07 Close Encounters of the Third Kind 15/10/2012 Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind landed in our cinemas over thirty years ago, lifting the lid on UFO sightings and turning it into a worldwide phenomenon. Surpassing Star Wars as the biggest box office smash of 1977, it re-awakened our fascination with the eternal question- are we alone in the universe? The movie follows three central characters- Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) who develops an obsession after sighting a UFO, Jillian Guiler, a single mother whose son is abducted by aliens and Claude Lacombe, a scientist working on a secret government project to establish First Contact with the extra-terrestrials. Although it’s a work of fiction, this sci-fi fantasy - including the legendary UFO road chase scene - was in fact inspired by real people, real science and real-life witness testimonies. To ensure the film was as accurate as possible to the reported cases, Spielberg hired Dr J Allen Hynek. Widely considered to be the authority on the scientific analysis of the UFO phenomenon, Hynek came up with the UFO classification system, which Close Encounters of the Third Kind takes it title from. Originally an astronomer, Hynek was hired by the US Air Force to look into the growing number of UFO reports that arose in the late forties. As sightings became more prevalent, the US government came under pressure to set up a formal body to study the cases- its main goal was to determine if any of these sightings were a threat to the American people. Called Project Bluebook, Dr Hynek served as the organization’s scientific advisor. His role was to look into the truly inexplicable cases and try to explain them. But the more cases he looked at, the more Hynek’s position changed from firm skeptic to a believer in the unexplained. In Project Bluebook’s seventeen year history, he oversaw the investigation of over 12,000 reported sightings from all over the United States in its seventeen-year history. One of the most famous cases that Hynek inve
S04E08 Master and Commander 08/01/2013 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World premiered in 2003 and received 10 nominations for Academy Awards, including best picture. It was directed and co-written by celebrated Australian director Peter Weir, famous for movies The Truman Show and Dead Poets Society. The movie was drawn from the 20-volume series of seafaring novels by Patrick OBrian, following the exploits of Captain Jack Aubrey [Russell Crowe] and his close friend, surgeon Stephen Maturin [Paul Bettany]. OBrian’s novels were meticulously researched, and closely follow historical events. But in distilling 20 volumes down to a single feature the team behind the movie had to not only borrow incidents from several books, but also further bend the historical framework for creative effect. So the events of the movie are set in 1805 – when Britain fought the French – rather than 1812, when Britain was at war with the United States. As Peter Weir reveals in our film, it would have been problematic to follow OBrian’s original narrative, since it would have meant Russell Crowe, playing the part of a British captain, fighting against Americans. The studio – who came up with the $150million budget for this lavish movie – would never have allowed the hero to be pitted against the USA. Our documentary also explores the fascinating historical backdrop to naval warfare in that era. Jack Aubrey’s opponent is a French skipper in charge of a warship called the Acheron. We learn that this ship is built to a radical new design, which makes her faster and stronger than anything else on the sea. In reality, the Acheron is closely modelled on USS Constitution, one of the first warships ever constructed by the fledgling USA in 1797. Constitution was built partly from a rare timber species called ‘southern live oak’, which only grows in the Americas and is far superior to the white oak used in British ships of the time. It allowed the Constitution to carry heavier outer planking – her ‘armour plating’ – and also expl
S05E00 00/00/0000 see Discovery Documentaries Season 2012 Episode 20 * I respectfully disagree. It makes much more organizational sense to keep these shows together here rather than randomly inserted within the larger DC docs. It is still the same show even though it has moved from History Channel to Discovery.
S05E01 Star Trek 05/01/2013 The True Story looks at the real lives and true stories behind Hollywood blockbusters and this episode examines the Sci-Fi phenomenon and most successful franchise in history – Star Trek. Since the original motion picture premier in 1979 Star Trek has boldly gone onto produce multiple TV series, 11 further films and can boast the most loyal and passionate fanbase in the world. The origins of this multi-billion dollar business can be traced back to one man - LA cop, Gene Roddenberry. As the world of television blossomed in the 1950’s, Roddenberry began to write scripts for police dramas in his spare time. Until one day he came up with a ground-breaking new idea – Star Trek. The original motion picture is set in the twenty-third century when a powerful alien machine called Vger approaches Earth destroying everything in its path. The last possible chance to save the planet is Admiral James T Kirk at the helm of the USS Enterprise. Using impressive special effects it was what legions of Trekkies/Treckers were waiting for. The True Story, through key interviews with Herb Solow, the producer of the Star Trek TV series, Roddenberry’s son, Rod, and Mr Spock himself - Leonard Nimoy charts Roddenberry’s meteoric rise to fame and the lengths he would go to keep his series on air. Star Trek didn’t only delight Trekkies, but also went on to inspire the scientific world and NASA scientists to recreate as in reality what they had seen in on screen in Star Trek. Investigating Star Trek’s use of antimatter we reveal how one of the world’s most expensive physics experiment at CERN Switzerland is trapping the most explosive substance on the planet. In further scientific examples of Roddenberry’s vision, scientists have gone on to develop the first scientific principles of teleportation, the replication of human organs by 3D printers and the creation of artificial intelligence androids.
S05E02 Platoon 10/01/2013 The True Story looks at the real lives and true stories behind Hollywood blockbusters and this episode examines Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning war movie, Platoon. Platoon hit the silver screen in 1986 on a small budget with a cast of then unknown actors but gained worldwide acclaim for its gritty portrayal of the horrors of the Vietnam War. Oliver Stone wanted Platoon to be the most realistic war movie of all time and it was based on his own experiences as a solider in the conflict. But how much of it was real and how much was adapted for Hollywood fiction? Platoon tells the story of idealistic new recruit Chris Taylor (played by Charlie Sheen) as he embarks on his first tour of duty in the deadly, booby-trapped jungles of Vietnam. The movie sees Taylor’s patriotism crumble within days of joining a platoon of demoralized and battle weary soldiers as they fight a losing battle in one of the most controversial conflicts of the 20th Century. Interviewing the movie’s legendary writer and director, Oliver Stone, we discover the true story behind Platoon, uncovering the real life events behind the movie and revealing the identities of the soldiers Stone fought alongside, who he would later immortalize on the big screen. As well as also hearing from Vietnam veteran and former marine, Dale Dye, who Oliver Stone drafted in to be the film’s military adviser and learn just what the young actors were put through during a gruelling two week boot camp before filming began. Historian Fabian Hilfrich also heads to the Vietnamese jungle where Stone was posted in 1967 to discover the real conditions the troops faced, the deadly booby traps that lay hidden all around and investigates the Viet Cong’s Deadly network of underground tunnels that feature prominently in one of the movies tensest scenes. We also dissect Platoon’s climatic battle scene where US Troops bomb their own base in a desperate attempt to fend off an ambush. It was textbook Hollywood jeopardy, but it’s based on an
S05E03 Die Hard 4.0 30/05/2013 The True Story looks at the real lives and true stories behind Hollywood blockbusters and this episode examines the real life inspiration behind Bruce Willis adventure thriller Die Hard 4.0. The much anticipated fourth instalment of the Die Hard franchise sees a slightly aged - but just as capable New York Cop John McClane (Willis) take on the sophisticated cyber-criminal mastermind Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). Gabriel holds the United States to ransom as he wreaks havoc by shutting down the country remotely via the internet and only McClane can stop him. The True Story examines how likely large scale cyber terrorism actually is and what steps are being taken to stop it. In Die Hard 4.0 the cyber-attack is codenamed ‘Fire Sale’ – a term now actually being used among hacker communities. Are we really living in a world where a teenager can infiltrate and shut down an airport from their bedroom? Or where criminal gangs can rob a nation-wide chain of banks with the click of a mouse? As well as in depth interviews with former FBI agents, journalists, and the crew behind the movie we also delve into the world of hackers, speaking to some of the most notorious in the world to find out if they really are arch criminals or simply bored geeks wanting to cause some trouble – and in the end which is harder to combat. Historian Fabian Hilfrich also heads to the Vietnamese jungle where Stone was posted in 1967 to discover the real conditions the troops faced, the deadly booby traps that lay hidden all around and investigates the Viet Cong’s Deadly network of underground tunnels that feature prominently in one of the movies tensest scenes. We also dissect Platoon’s climatic battle scene where US Troops bomb their own base in a desperate attempt to fend off an ambush. It was textbook Hollywood jeopardy, but it’s based on an actual event. We reunite Stone’s comrades who served alongside him that fearsome night, hearing from the man who ordered that napalm attack for re
S05E04 Scream 27/10/2013 The True Story is a documentary series revealing the real-life events that inspired some of Hollywood’s most famous blockbusters this episode looks at the real story behind modern horror classic Scream. Slasher film Scream, released in 1996 went on to spawn one of the most successful horror franchises in film history taking in in excess of 400 million dollars in the United States alone. The sadistic killer and his iconic mask have entertained and terrified audiences around the world. With Nightmare on Elm Street director Wes craven at the helm, the first Scream film is credited with revitalizing the horror genre. Scream blended slasher violence with murder mystery and it played on the stereotypes and conventions of classic horror films breathing new life into the genre. Although the plot of the masked, small town serial killer targeting high-school students and picking them off one-by one may seem like pure Hollywood fiction it was partly inspired by true events and a real masked murderer who terrified students in a small town. In 1990, serial killer 36- year old Danny Harold Rolling, stalked, tortured and murdered five young students in Gainsville, Florida. The murders triggered a student exodus, mass panic and the largest manhunt in Florida’s history. The killer was even dubbed the Gainesillve Ripper. The True Story explores the real life case of the masked killer charting the trials and tribulations of the full year long investigation. Including missed evidence, the wrongful arrest of an innocent scarred schizophrenic man and also how the forensic team finally pieced together the killer’s methodology using a key piece of evidence. Through first hand witnesses, homicide investigators and forensic scientists we tell the story behind the story and prove that sometimes reality can be just as terrifying as the movies.
S05E05 The Da Vinci Code 23/05/2013 The True Story looks at the real lives and true stories behind Hollywood blockbusters and this episode looks at Ron Howard’s controversial box office hit The Da Vinci Code. The film adaptation of the best-selling novel by Dan Brown sees Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) caught up in a two thousand year old battle between a mysterious secret society and the orthodox church to suppress the greatest secret in history: The true nature and final resting place of the Holy Grail. The Da Vinci Code follows Langdon’s attempt to solve a series of puzzles and codes left behind by great renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci. Hidden in one of his greatest masterpieces are clues to the true nature of the Holy Grail – clues Langdon must decipher to lead him to the shocking truth. The film enthralled and enraged audiences in equal measure due its assertion that Jesus had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene, leading Catholics to call for a boycott on the film altogether. The film’s creator however, stood by his research and claims that 99% of the film was true. So what is the truth? Brand new historical evidence and investigations show how the film’s plot was based on real organizations and events. Princeton University Professor of Religion Elaine Pagels and Reverend Robin Griffiths Jones, a leading theologian lead us through the evidence - 3rd century Coptic texts that are forcing the Vatican to reconsider Mary Magdalene’s role in the early church. We investigate the resting place of the Holy Grail, the ancient carved Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland where analysis reveals that it does contain cryptic messages and hidden chambers. Also Leonardo da Vinci expert Mario Taddei and leading art restorer Cecilia Frosinini examine da Vinci’s The Last Supper to see if there really are any intentional coded references to Mary Magdalene. You have your opinion on The Da Vinci Code, now find out the true story.
S00E01 Bravo Two Zero: The True Story 17/04/2003
S00E02 Mystery of The Hunley: The True Story 04/01/2005
S00E03 RMS Titanic's Final Moments: The True Story 26/02/2006 In 1912 the 'unsinkable' Titanic disappeared beneath the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. How she broke her back is still under investigation. This programme follows a recent expedition to uncover her missing pieces and uncovers surprising new evidence that may forever change what is known about the Titanic's final moments.
S00E04 Nostradamus: The True Story 09/01/2007
S00E05 Jesse James: The True Story 23/01/2007
S00E06 Frankenstein: The True Story 06/02/2007 The story of Frankenstein has haunted us for almost 200 years: a monster brought to life by a mad scientist in his secret laboratory. But is Mary Shelley's book pure fiction after all? This programme uncovers facts and sheds light on a dark world of bizarre scientific experiments intended to unlock the secret of life.
S00E07 Boston Strangler: The True Story 27/02/2007 Documentary exploring the truth behind the murders of several women in Boston, Massachusetts, in the early 1960s. Were they the work of one person?
S00E08 Stonehenge: The True Story 20/02/2007
S00E09 Amelia Earhart Conspiracy: The True Story 06/03/2007
S00E10 Bermuda Triangle: The True Story 13/03/2007
S00E11 Pirates Of The Caribbean: The True Story 20/03/2007 Documentary bringing the latest historical evidence and underwater forensic techniques to bear on Henry Morgan, one of history's most notorious rogues, and uncovering his key role in Britain's battle with Spain for the riches of the Americas.
S00E12 Anastasia Mystery: The True Story 03/04/2007
S00E13 Roswell Incident: The True Story 10/04/2007
S00E14 Herod The Great: The True Story 17/04/2007
S00E15 Philosophers Stone: The True Story 24/04/2007 Documentary examining the medieval myth of the Philosopher's Stone, a Holy Grail-type relic which supposedly held the key to alchemy and immortality. Many noted alchemists and adventurers searched obsessively for the artefact hoping to learn its powerful secrets, a quest which allegedly drove some to madness and others to celestial encounters.
S00E16 Bali Bombings: The True Story 06/11/2007
S00E17 Jonestown Cult Suicides: The True Story 13/11/2007 On November 18, 1978, over 900 members of a religious cult apparently committed suicide in the jungles of Guyana. Using dramatic reconstruction, archive footage and testimony from survivors, including cult-leader Jim Jones' own son Stephan, this film tells the story of what really happened on that apocalyptic day.
S00E18 Blood Diamonds: The True Story 20/11/2007
S00E19 Olympic Massacre: The True Story 04/12/2007 The documentary series exploring infamous historical events continues with an examination of the horrific events of 6 September 1972, when Palestinian terrorist group Black September took nine members of the Israeli athletics team hostage. Using new footage, archive material and eyewitness testimony, this gripping documentary provides a unique perspective on that day's bleak events.
S00E20 Titanic Conspiracy: The True Story 11/12/2007
S00E21 Columbia's Final Flight: The True Story 18/12/2007