My Top-5 Motion Picture Myths

Movies have the uncanny ability to make people over-think their purpose and meaning. Just check the internet for any number of web-sites pondering the homosexual undertones of Top Gun, Nightmare on Elm Street 2 etc. These are in my mind the five dumbest movie myths spread around. Some of these have even been covered by Snopes, but these are just my five personal favourites.

5. Madness of King George the Sequel

This is one of my personal favourites since it shows how easily Americans will get stamped with the stigma of being idiots without even trying. The 1994 movie, The Madness of King George was based on the real King of England, George III, who ruled from 1760 until 1820 (in the era of the American and French Revolutions) and began to suffer from mental problems later in life, as well as becoming blind from cataracts.

The movie was based on a 1991 play by the same screenwriter called The Madness of King George III. As for the reason why his royal numeral was removed from the movie adaptation, an urban myth has circulated that the director was afraid that the proverbial dumb Americans would believe it was a sequel, not realising that the Roman number referred to the order of the king (The Third).

Rather surprisingly, this explanation is utter horse-crap. The director, Nicolas Hytner, actually wanted to drop the III from the title because he felt that it de-emphasised George and possibly dehumanized him to a degree. This explanation has been confirmed by cast interviews. The reason this myth lives on so strong is probably because it seems so feasible.

4. 007 – We Don’t Need a Doctor

The very first James Bond movie, Dr. No, was a massive hit and made the on-screen British Agent and his star actor, Sean Connery, famous the world over. With James Bond being popular in so many countries, the titles of the Bond movies have been translated into numerous languages. Sometimes with rather awkward results (From Russia With Love‘s Finnish title effectively translates as Secret Agent 007 in Istanbul [Salainen Agentti 007 Istanbulissa]).

However, the most commonly known James Bond movie title myth has to do with Dr. No specifically. According to this myth many foreign translators didn’t understand what the movie’s title meant and foolishly mistranslated it in the form “We Don’t Need a Doctor” or in some variants of the myth “We Don’t Want a Doctor”.

Now yes, there was a common problem with many countries not thinking that Dr. No was a very good title for a movie, but the “We Don’t Need a Doctor” story can be disproved easily enough by looking at the list of the film’s international titles on IMDb. However, many countries did opt to change the title from Dr. No to “Licence to Kill”, Bond’s signature attribute. This of course caused some problems when the 1989 Timothy Dalton movie by that particular name was released.

3. Snow White and the Seven Signs of Cocaine Addiction

More than any other movie company, Walt Disney seems to attract movie conspiracy theorists like moths to a flame. People have accused Disney of everything from hiding subliminal messages and sexual innuendo to promoting drug-use. Most of these have been simple unfortunate mistakes and misunderstandings, but quite easily and by far the most ridiculous myth relates to Disney’s very first animated feature-length film.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, though not perhaps the best movie by the Disney company, is a classic and a required viewing for any serious Disney fan. However, a popular myth circulates that the Seven Dwarves (Dopey, Sleepy, Sneezy, Happy, Bashful, Grumpy and Doc) supposedly represent the seven states of cocaine addiction. And of course the same myth purports that Snow White herself is an allegory for cocaine.

This myth is a typical sign of people wanting to find something to criticise about the seemingly pure and innocent Disney company, but this is just a really stupid conspiracy theory. It’s easily discredited by the simple fact that Snow White is a classic Brothers Grimm tale, so the very premise of Snow White as an allegory for cocaine is pretty much out the window. Nevermind the fact that the Disney company had already adapted several childrens’ stories into their short cartoons. Now, Disney did specifically create the separate personalities of the dwarves (which were never identified in the original story) but the myth is just so ridiculous, you’d have to snort some seriously high amounts of cocaine (and maybe drop a little acid) to even believe it.

2. Two Different Endings for King Kong vs. Godzilla

This myth is so well-known that for the longest time it was actually assumed to be true. The 1962 monster mash classic is one of the best known Godzilla films and also home to the most often believed movie myth around. Supposedly, the Japanese produced monster movie had two different endings for the Japanese and American versions of the same film. In one version, the Japanese monster, Godzilla, wins and in the other the American monster, King Kong, wins. Toho was apparently concerned that Americans would reject the movie if King Kong lost and therefore had this alternate ending made.

Of course, this myth is utter nonsense, but its perseverance is quite remarkable and its been reported as fact by numerous sources, where the people writing about the film, clearly, had never even seen the two versions of the film.

Of course, there are differences between the films. For one, the American version has different voice-overs and was edited considerably, though mostly to add scenes with actor Michael Keith in them adding an American angle to the storyline. The endings of both versions, however, are completely identical visually. Godzilla and King Kong fall into the ocean and Kong is seen swimming away from the scene of the battle. The sound editing is different in the two versions though, in the Japanese version Godzilla is heard screaming – but this was not intended to mean that he has survived, but according to director Ishiro Honda, Godzilla and King Kong screaming at the end was intended as a sign off by both monsters to the audience.

1. Cannibal Holocaust really happened!

It seems that every generation has that horror movie that is believed to have actually happened (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blair Witch Project etc.) but one “Movie that really happened” story that I think outshines all the rest is the 1980 Italian exploitation film, Cannibal Holocaust. The movie was so horrendously violent and convincing apparently, that its makers actually had to prove in court that the movie was faked.

Now, what makes the Cannibal Holocaust myth all the more disturbing is the reason that there were in fact actual deaths depicted on-screen. However, these were all animal deaths, which doesn’t make them any less disturbing and possibly even more so. However, Italian movie censors apparently were so convinced by Cannibal Holocaust’s documentary style cinematography that the movie was actually pulled from Italian theatres and director Ruggero Deodato was taken to court, accused of releasing a snuff film.

Deodato not only had to prove that the cast of the film was alive and well, a task made difficult for the reason that he had told the cast to lay low in order to help promote the realistic feel of the film deaths, but also to categorically demonstrate how the deaths were faked in the movie (including the film’s signature impalement of a woman through the mouth).  Eventually, Deodato convinced the court and was set free.