Cinema’s Wildest Anachronisms: Chronological Errors of Notable Note

William Toblerone, contributor

Dances with Wolves: This adventure story is set in the 1860s, during the final years of the Indian Wars. Fifty-six minutes into the movie, the Union soldier portrayed by Kevin Costner dashes across the frontier to the local trading post to purchase much-needed supplies. Just after the cashier asks, “Plastic or rawhide?” she scans a box of Always brand Maxi-Pads with Wings. Oops! Adhesive wings would not be available to keep Costner’s Maxi-Pads comfortably secure until 2002. This misstep shatters the historical illusion of this period piece.

Lincoln: The year is supposed to be 1864, but there are subtle clues in this Spielberg snoozer that might make you think otherwise. 1,294 minutes into the film, a scene appears depicting Lincoln’s rage when he discovers that the “pure heaven dust” he purchased from Kentucky Senator Henry Cornelius Burnett is nothing more than common bath salts.  After his posse arrives at the Louisville capitol to exact revenge, Lincoln is seen bending over to assemble his flame thrower on the front lawn. Before he stands to spray terror, a tattoo depicting a gun-toting Ol’ Dirty Bastard with the caption “Thug World” is visible on his left ass cheek, just below the waistline. Oops! The catchphrase “Thug World” was actually coined by Lincoln’s successor Andrew Johnson in 1876, 11 years after Lincoln’s assassination. Nice try, Spielberg! Fact check often?

The Last Temptation of Christ: This film painstakingly nails all of the details of life in Galilee circa 2-0 B.C. But if you pay close attention around the 61 minute marker, you might notice one miniscule inaccuracy: during the wedding scene, when the crowd is growing riotous in their sobriety, a bottle of water is bestowed upon Jesus and he is asked to “fix it” by his disciples.  Jesus rises, places his top hat upon a table, and then motions to his sequined assistant to place the water into the hat. After some pause to build tension, Jesus reaches into the hat slowly revealing an unopened five-liter box of Franzia, which is quickly spirited away to the demanding guests. Oops! While Franzia was emerging as a start-up wine label at this time, the “Mesopotamian Mist” variety depicted in the movie would not be released until 19 A.D.

The Iron Lady: Meryl Streep skillfully recreates Margaret Thatcher’s stint as a wrinkle-eliminating laundry maid before becoming the Emperor of England. But 41 minutes into the movie, just after she presents her historic “Honey Do List” to a stunned parliament, Meryl Streep dramatically proclaims “2011 is fucking exhausting… I mean 1979.” Oops! The error plays naturally into the plot as another example of the character’s declining cognition due to her abuse of bath salts. However, director Phyllida Lloyd would later admit that this line is a blooper that snuck into the movie because she was “tired of all the editing and shit.”

 2001: A Space Odyssey: This picture is set in 1997, so it’s an absolute fucking disaster from the opening title. Think Kubrick, think!




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