The Real Story

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Smithsonian Channel Premiered Jan 01, 2009 In Season

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  • The Cyber Crimes You Never Hear About

    Clip

    6/19/13

    Financial institutions go to great lengths to protect themselves against cyber attacks, but as in Live Free or Die Hard, very little stops these elite hackers.
  • The Inspiration Behind Scream's Ghostface

    Clip

    6/19/13

    Scream's iconic villain Ghostface was inspired by a real serial killer who preyed on young students in the college town of Gainesville, Florida.
  • Surviving a Bullet Wound to the Shoulder

    Clip

    6/19/13

    In Live Free or Die Hard, John McClane shoots through his own shoulder in order to take out his captor - ballistics experts put this climactic scene to the test.
  • A Message From Leonardo Da Vinci

    Clip

    6/19/13

    Da Vinci's The Last Supper plays a key role in the 2006 blockbuster hit The Da Vinci Code. Although the film's claims are more fiction than fact, could the painting actually contain a message from Leonardo?moreless
  • Interacting with an Android

    Clip

    5/16/13

    Meet Bina48, she is an android capable of interacting with humans. Her creators note that Star Trek originally imagined a similar form of artificial intelligence, but now, that science fiction is becoming a reality.moreless
  • Lifelong Trekkie Uses 3D Printer to Make Human Body Parts

    Clip

    5/16/13

    Many of the technologies first fictionalized in Star Trek are now a reality. Using x-rays, scans, and a mixture of cells, scientists can actually print human tissue and organs.
  • Prehistoric Kickboxing Killer Turkeys

    Clip

    11/19/12

    Unlike Jurassic Park's lizard-like creatures, real raptors had feathers and looked a lot more like their closest relatives -- birds.
  • Extracting Dinosaur DNA

    Clip

    11/19/12

    The science behind the movie's dinosaur resurrection is more accurate than you might think.
  • The Maverick Paleontologist

    Clip

    11/19/12

    Dr. Alan Grant, Jurassic Park's scientist hero, was based on a real man -- Jack Horner, one of the most famous paleontologists in the US.
  • Fleming, Ian Fleming

    Clip

    10/24/12

    The author shared many characteristics with his "fictional" hero. Were they one and the same? The answer is surprisingly complex.
  • Scream

    Full Episode

    S 5 : Ep 5 - 7/28/13

    The slasher classic "Scream" reinvigorated the horror genre, creating a scary movie icon and launching a frightening film franchise. The gorefest may seem like Hollywood fiction, but it was actually inspired by a real-life killing spree that sent an idyllic Florida town into a panic. Uncover the terrifying true events behind the horror film as we investigate the parallels between the fictional serial killer and the real-life serial killer: The Gainesville Ripper.moreless
  • The Da Vinci Code

    Full Episode

    S 5 : Ep 4 - 7/21/13

    The Hollywood blockbuster The Da Vinci Code captivated audiences worldwide while outraging the Catholic Church. Its plot line, suggesting Jesus was married and fathered children, is presented as fact but how much of the movie is really true? Did Da Vinci actually leave hidden clues in his paintings? Is there indeed a secret society protecting the bloodline of Christ? Join our team of real-life code breakers, Renaissance experts, and professors of religion and language as we uncover the truth behind this controversial film.moreless
  • Platoon

    Full Episode

    S 5 : Ep 3 - 7/14/13

    Oliver Stone's Oscar-winning film "Platoon" brought the true horror of the Vietnam War to the big screen. Based on Stone's own experiences as a soldier in the conflict, the film captivated millions of viewers all over the world. But how much of the film was real and how much was Hollywood fiction? To reveal the real story, we recreate scenes; uncover a radio transmission from the battle that inspired the movie's climax, and interview writer/director Oliver Stone and cast member Willem Dafoe.moreless
  • Live Free or Die Hard

    Full Episode

    S 5 : Ep 2 - 7/7/13

    In "Live Free or Die Hard," the fourth chapter in the high-octane action franchise, a mastermind cyber-criminal holds America hostage by wreaking havoc via the Internet. It's a great thriller, but could this imagined scenario ever happen in real life? According to recent history, it already has. The true crimes are as dramatic as anything Hollywood could imagine. See how an all-out cyber-attack on the U.S. is a very real possibility. Then meet the government officials and former hackers tasked with ensuring our digital space is safe.moreless
  • Star Trek

    Full Episode

    S 5 : Ep 1 - 6/30/13

    The biggest movie and TV franchise of all time, Star Trek spawned more than 700 TV episodes and twelve films. Creator Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future helped inspire today's scientists to develop the first scientific principles of teleportation, the creation of artificial intelligence, androids, and more. Now, scientists, series producers, the first Trekkies, and Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, provide new insights into a show that inspired audiences everywhere to create a better world.moreless
  • Master and Commander

    Full Episode

    S 4 : Ep 6 - 9/2/12

    "Though it is a work of fiction, few films have been as meticulously researched as director Peter Weirs maritime masterpiece, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The historians and experts who worked behind the scenes will now share the real story of how they brought their stunning recreation of the 19th century seafaring adventure to the big screen. Join us as we detail the brutal conditions of life at sea, and reveal the real life swashbuckling captain who inspired the Hollywood character Lucky Jack Aubrey.moreless
  • Braveheart

    Full Episode

    S 4 : Ep 5 - 8/26/12

    "Mel Gibson\'s Braveheart won five Oscars and made William Wallace, a 13th century Scottish warrior, an unforgettable Hollywood character. But how historically accurate is the film? Was the real life William Wallace a heroic freedom fighter or a common criminal turned terrorist? Was he really saved by a princess who became his lover? We examine new archeological evidence, reveal recently deciphered ancient manuscripts and conduct forensic experiments to uncover the true story of this legendary warrior.moreless
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    Full Episode

    S 4 : Ep 4 - 8/19/12

    The movie was an instant smash when it hit the theaters in 1977 and reawakened man's obsession with the eternal question: Are we alone in the universe? Though a work of fantasy, few realize that Steven Spielbergs sci-fi classic was actually inspired by real-life witness testimony, as well as a series of UFO sightings in Michigan in the summer of 1966. Separate science fact from science fiction as we re-examine government documents and put old witness testimonies to the test using modern technology.moreless
  • Apollo 13

    Full Episode

    S 4 : Ep 3 - 8/12/12

    No one would believe the story if it hadnt actually happened. The 1970 rescue of Apollo 13 captivated the nation and the film adaptation went on to win two Oscars® . But how close to the truth was the film? Was Houston, we have a problem, or Failure is not an option, ever actually said? Did hostilities between the astronauts really exist? To reveal the truth, we put the big movie moments to the test. Firsthand accounts from astronauts and Mission Control staff involved in the rescue, as well as an interview with filmmaker Ron Howard, reveal the full story.moreless
  • True Grit

    Full Episode

    S 4 : Ep 2 - 8/5/12

    The line between good and evil in the Wild West was often blurred, and perhaps no Hollywood Western captured the realities of the dangerous frontier better than the Coen Brothers True Grit. Based on the book by Charles Portis, its a brutal portrayal of frontier justice, but real life in the West was even more shocking. Explore a violent and unforgiving time in Americas history and see how Rooster Cogburn and young Matties encounters with hangings, shootouts, and kidnappings would have been part and parcel with life in the Wild West.moreless
  • Saving Private Ryan

    Full Episode

    S 4 : Ep 1 - 7/29/12

    Steven Spielbergs Saving Private Ryan is one of the greatest war films ever made, capturing the sheer horror and brutality of combat. The film is famous for its realism, but how much of this epic drama is truly accurate? Was there a real Private Ryan? Uncover the real story behind this Hollywood blockbuster as we conduct tests with weapons experts and gain insights from war historians. Then hear the moving testimony of soldiers who landed at Normandy and meet the families whose tragic stories inspired the film.moreless
  • Jurassic Park

    Full Episode

    S 3 : Ep 5 - 6/12/11

    Would the raptors in "Jurassic Park" have been as terrifying if they were covered in feathers? Would the T-Rex be as threatening if its speed tapped out at 10 MPH? No, but as a work of science fiction, it's forgivable. How much of the Steven Spielberg blockbuster was inspired by reality? Its characters were based on real people. Its shocking premise was influenced by real discoveries. Look beyond the Hollywood magic and into the scientific facts, with expert opinions from research scientists, fossil hunters and Paleontologist Jack Horner, the inspiration for Dr. Grant, the main character in "Jurassic Park."moreless
  • Gladiator

    Full Episode

    S 3 : Ep 4 - 6/5/11

    In the year 2000, masses lined up to cheer on Russel Crowe's Maximus in the Ridley Scott film, "Gladiator." More than 1,900 years earlier, they lined up for the real thing. It was a scene far bloodier and more brutal than any of the battles presented in the Oscar-winning film. We uncover the real story of "Gladiator," a tale of blood, death, obsession and violence. Demonstrations and new experiments reveal how these men really fought and died, and examine the emperor Commodus, a man who obsessed over gladiators while his empire crumbled around him.moreless
  • Jaws

    Full Episode

    S 3 : Ep 3 - 5/29/11

    You're 30 times more likely to be hit by lightning than attacked by a shark. Dog bites and bee stings cause more fatalities, so why are we so terrified of these demons of the deep? Blame "Jaws." The Steven Spielberg classic terrified millions in 1975, and decades later, the film still has teeth. But could a Great White really be a serial killer? We interview marine biologists and shark experts for answers. We also relive a true tale of a man-eating monster that terrorized New Jersey in 1916, a story far scarier than anything on screen.moreless
  • Titanic

    Full Episode

    S 3 : Ep 2 - 5/22/11

    For over a decade, "Titanic" stood as the world's top-grossing movie, an epic tale of love, adventure, disaster and sacrifice. When it was made, James Cameron was lauded for his attention to detail and accuracy, but modern technology and new theories are telling a different story of what really happened to the "unsinkable" ship. We interview historians, engineers, and scientists for their expert testimony. We even set simulated sail aboard a virtual Titanic to retrace the final moments before imapct, and get to the bottom of the truth.moreless
  • Pirates of the Caribbean

    Full Episode

    S 3 : Ep 1 - 5/15/11

    Johnny Depp and the cast of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" present the buccaneer lifestyle as a back-stabbing, high-living, hard-drinking world. It makes for an entertaining series, but is it a true depiction of the times? Evidence shows that amidst the lawless merriment, pirates formed a highly organized society, where democracy ruled and voting and health care preceded England by 100 years. We interview historians, weaponry experts, and one of the film's screenwriters to show how true pirate adventures inspired this blockbuster franchise.moreless
  • The Hunt for Red October

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 5 - 5/23/10

    In 1975, The Sentry, a state-of-the-art Russian warship, was taken over by a rogue Soviet officer. This remarkable mutiny not only inspired the best-selling political thriller and the Sean Connery/Alec Baldwin blockbuster, “The Hunt for Red October,” it almost triggered World War III. For the first time, we reveal stories of bravery and tragedy firsthand, from the men aboard the warship and the officers who ordered its destruction.moreless
  • The Silence of the Lambs

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 4 - 5/2/10

    Meet the deranged serial killers and the determined FBI agents who inspired one of Hollywood's most terrifying thrillers and gave Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster the roles of a lifetime. We go behind the scenes at the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit to meet the profilers who became the basis for Harris's characters and to uncover the details of real-life murderers Ed Gein, Ted Bundy and others.moreless
  • The Bourne Identity

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 3 - 5/16/10

    Believe it or not, the covert, violent and deadly world of Jason Bourne is actually grounded in reality. We take an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the CIA to see how a super assassin like Matt Damon’s conflicted hero is created. We also probe the intelligence agency’s controversial past operations, involving sinister mind-control experiments and often bizarre assassination plots.moreless
  • Casino

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 2 - 5/9/10

    Behind Martin Scorsese’s masterful direction and Robert De Niro’s larger-than-life performance lies the very real story of the high-stakes battle between the mob and the law for control of Las Vegas. We interview key figures on both sides of this colorful crime story and detail how the FBI was finally able to overcome the Mafia’s formidable grip on Sin City.moreless
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