Best movie factual errors of 1997
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Factual error: The lake that Jack told Rose he went ice fishing on when she was threatening to jump is Lake Wissota, a man-made lake in Wisconsin near Chippewa Falls (where Jack grew up). The lake was only filled with water in 1918 when a power company built a dam on the Chippewa River, six years after the Titanic sank. (00:39:05)
Factual error: The whole basis of the trial and conviction of Cameron Poe is a crock. The judge can not arbitrarily mete out a sentence that is harsher based on the ability of someone to defend him/herself. In justifying the harsher sentence because of Poe's military skills, the judge effectively says that Poe is more guilty than an average person due to his honorable and decorated service in uniform to his country. In my entire time in law school, I never read one out of the literally hundreds of cases I was assigned in which a judge issued a harsher sentence because of someone's innate or learned abilities to defend themselves. But since this was a movie court room proceeding, the fact that Poe had a witness to the fight (his wife), the fact that he was injured in the fight, and the fact that his uniform was torn and otherwise ruined as a result of the fight are never examined. A D.A. wouldn't have taken this to a grand jury on a bet, because they would have never returned an indictment or "true bill."
Factual error: During the first battle with an Anaconda, the 55-gallon fuel drums lashed to the deck of the riverboat are swept over the side, where they sink to the bottom of the river. This plot device drives the rest of the movie, since the boat must make a dangerous detour through "Anaconda country." There is just one small problem with this: Fuel drums full of diesel fuel or gasoline float on water. The fuel in them makes them buoyant. It would have been a simple matter for someone to get a rope or a boathook and retrieve the fuel drums before they floated away.
Factual error: As Bond is preparing for the HALO skydive, he is warned that he has to freefall for 5 miles and without oxygen he will be asphyxiated. However, he jumps from a non-pressurised aircraft. Surely when the back hatch opened, the other people standing around would either also start to suffocate or be sucked out.
Factual error: In the shot where the lady passenger boards the Upper Deck to take her seat, she boards through an aft-facing straight staircase, located at the rear of the cabin. On the 747-200, which they were flying, the majority were equipped with circular staircases, and a few equipped with the aft-facing straight staircases, but in both cases, they were located in the front of the cabin, no exceptions.
Factual error: In one scene they attempt to divert the ship by manually activating the ship's bowthruster. A thruster is a propeller in a transverse direction. This allows the ship to turn more efficiently when docking. However the thruster loses any efficiency above approximately 5 knots. In the film they use it at 17 knots. Secondly, a thruster is powered by an electric motor of at least 500 kW, yet they manage to turn it by hand. That handle does not exist in real life, and no one would be able to turn it anyway.
Factual error: Charles and Robert manage to outrun a charging Alaskan brown bear over a course of several hundred meters, leading it into a trap. This is absurd. The absolute maximum running speed of a human being is about 27 kilometers an hour, and that is for an appropriately dressed, fit athlete over a very short course on flat ground. They are in a rock strewn stream and are wearing heavy winter clothes. A fit, healthy, active male Alaskan brown bear like the one chasing them could hit 45 kmh in that environment without popping a sweat and could keep that up for a kilometer or more. When enraged or charging prey - as this one was - they have been clocked at 56kmh. This is nothing to do with an adrenaline rush - that will not enable Charles or Robert to exceed their body's maximum running speed by 200%.
Factual error: Near the beginning, when the Russian Delta-class sub is locking US cities as potential targets for nuclear missiles, Boston is one of the cities that appears in Russian on the computer screen. However, the way it is written is wrong (it starts with B, the Cyrillic character for V not B, so it appears as Voston).
Factual error: The Portuguese slave ship Tecora was one of the most notorious of the illegal slave ships, but no slaves were thrown overboard in mid-ocean as shown in the film - at least on the trip in question. The Portuguese were pros at the slave trade and had plenty of food on board to feed their "cargo" between Sierra Leone and Cuba. The only time a slave would be thrown overboard in mid-ocean was if his/her health posed a serious risk to the crew and "cargo". (Slaves were too valuable to just throw away for the price of their food.) Historically, though, there were instances where whole cargoes of slaves were tossed overboard. The British Royal Navy zealously patrolled the waters off West Africa to try to shut down the slave trade. If a British ship was sighted, the slavers sometimes tossed slaves overboard to destroy the evidence and prevent the seizure of the ship.
Factual error: Why is there a stellar observatory in the middle of a very large city, most of the stars would be drowned out by the city lights to the point of the observatory being useless. Also, the dome is very high up on top of a "building". Such buildings need to flex a little bit in the wind to keep them from breaking, this would make it impossible for the telescope to focus on anything for a timed exposure of film to make those neat pictures of galaxies and such. (00:35:20)