Film narratives don’t always directly reflect real life, but when they do they can be especially powerful. Sadness is a deep emotion, and tragedy is a rich source of inspiration. No matter how affecting the film might be, though, sometimes the truth behind it is even more powerful. A number of the most tear-inducing films ever made were based, at least in part, on fact. However, in the following cases the true stories are even more upsetting and profound.
20. Philadelphia (1993)
Tom Hanks won an Oscar for his turn as lawyer Andrew Beckett in what was a major turning point in his career. He had plenty of material to draw on when making Philadelphia, mind you. The Beckett character was based on Geoffrey Bowers, a lawyer who sued his old firm for wrongful dismissal after being diagnosed with AIDS. The hearing lasted six years, but Bowers died after the first two months. Meanwhile, Bowers’ family later sued the makers of the film, as his story was never directly credited.
19. Elephant (2003)
Gus Van Sant’s disturbing teen tragedy Elephant isn’t directly about any particular incident, but it was partially inspired by the harrowing Columbine High School shooting. In 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into their school and fatally shot 12 of their fellow students and a teacher before turning the guns on themselves. Both of their journals contained evidence that the pair had been bullied.