How Historically Accurate Is The Movie Apollo 13?

Hollywood loves depicting actual historical events. Audiences love seeing those events being shown on the screen. But the people who make these films also make changes to ratchet up the drama so that they can keep movie-watchers captivated throughout the film.

That might mean making people up out of whole cloth, like in "Titanic," with Jack and Rose both being two fictional people that rode on the very real doomed cruise ship that resides at the bottom of the ocean, according to The Travel. The romantic duo were inserted to give an idea of what it was like to be on the ship that met its unfortunate end. Let's not forget about "Pocahontas," "Amistad," and "JFK," which also deviated from reality, per Reader's Digest.

"Apollo 13" features one of the most dramatic and recognizable quotes in movies history. The question is — is it accurate? Also, does the movie portray the events faithfully? The answer is: Mostly.

Jim Lovell's famous quote is mostly true

People remember seeing the iconic movie poster with a single phrase at the top: "Houston ... we have a problem." This was a key phrase that was supposedly uttered by the crew leader, astronaut James "Jim" Lovell, at a critical juncture in the film. Tom Hanks played Lovell, and he said the line to convey the dire nature of the astronauts' situation. While Lovell did say something like that, records show that it was more of a free-flowing conversation between the astronauts and ground control. Director Ron Howard just wanted to up the intensity to grab the audience's attention, per Medium

There were other dramatic elements added too, like tension between the astronauts that did not actually happen. The last thing you want in space, with a lot of delicate instruments around you, is to get into a fight. That would be an easy way to give yourself an infinite trip through the stars. Also, the commander on Earth did not lose his temper in real life as depicted in the movie. 

Besides aiming to not have their space module turn into their floating coffin, the astronauts had to worry about staying alive during re-entry. If they approached at the wrong angle, it would be all over for them. Fortunately, things worked out perfectly, and they returned to Earth safely. The movie is seen as largely depicting all of this correctly — so you can watch it and know that you are seeing most of the truth.