It's Memorial Day Weekend in the US, so I was watching one of my favorite Memorial Day movies; Hamburger Hill (1987). This movie is based on events surrounding the taking of Hill 937 in Vietnam. The movie accurately mentions the dates and locations of this battle. At the end, this disclaimer is shown:

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Why would this disclaimer be displayed at the end of a film like Hamburger Hill?


It's not a non-fiction film. From the IMDb page:

A very realistic interpretation of one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.

It is a fictionalization of the actual events.

Nearly all - if not all - narrative films carry this disclaimer, even if the people depicted in the film are real people... the reality is, some stuff will be fictionalized for story purposes... some of the characters will be made up either entirely or possibly combined from several actual people. Some names may be changed if the real people (or their families should they be deceased) refuse to give permission to the production company to use their name.

If it were a documentary, that would be different... but this is still a "based on real events" movie... it may as well all be fake because there's no way to know what actually happened and what did not.

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    I don't know about this specific case, but fiction disclaimers are also used to reduce the possibilites of a legal action for defamation (see writers.stackexchange.com/questions/10544/…). – A. Darwin May 30 '16 at 6:10
  • @A.Darwin That's definitely very true! I had thought about including that in my answer but it seemed the main issue was that the OP thought the film was non-fiction, so I decided to focus on that angle. :D The amusing part to me is that a film about real people always have these - with this exact wording - even when everyone knows the person existed... like movies about JFK or Ghandi. – Catija May 30 '16 at 14:46
  • I think the reason is that scriptwriters often change bits of the original history, perhaps describing a slightly negative behavior of a well-reputed character in order to depict him/her as "more human". This would lead relatives, friends, associates of that person to complain and possibly sue, if that disclaimer was not present. Plus, sometimes producers straight up invent new characters (e.g. bad guy in an army of bad guys), who somehow remind someone of a real person. Since it is said that everyone has some "clones", scriptwriters don't want to risk and write the disclaimer. – A. Darwin May 30 '16 at 14:55

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