The Flick: Jude Law, as Confederate soldier W.P. Inman, must find his way back to his love, Ada, while overcoming a deadly wilderness, the ravages of war and having to look at Renee Zellweger for an extended period of time.
The Inaccuracies: While Jude only deserts his unit after a disastrous battle, the real W.P. Inman was arrested twice for "cowardly desertion of his post." Also, as Inman starts his journey from a hospital in Raleigh, NC, which is about 250 miles east of Cold Mountain, it's somewhat puzzling that he manages to reach the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 400 miles out of his way, before getting home.
Why It Would Have Sucked Otherwise: Despite everything mentioned above, by far the most movie-saving historical inaccuracy in Cold Mountain has to be the fact that women of the 1800s rarely, if ever, shaved their legs. Take every romantic scene between Ada and Inman and add the rustling sound of a six-month crop of leg hair, and you'll understand what we're talking about here.
The Flick: Kirsten Dunst takes a break from being whiny and self-centered in modern-day Manhattan to be whiny and self-centered in 18th century France.
The Inaccuracies: One of the conflicts in the film centers around Marie and Louis' (Jason Schwartzman) difficulty in producing an heir. In the movie, Louis is afraid of sex. In reality, Louis had phimosis, a condition in which the foreskin of the penis cannot be fully retracted. This was later fixed with an operation, and the couple did in fact conceive.
Why It Would Have Sucked Otherwise: The only thing we want to see less than Jason Schwartzman and Kirsten Dunst argue about his extra penis skin is footage of the operation in which this skin is removed with all the benefits of 18th century medical technology.
The Flick: Mozart, the leather-pants rock star of the Classical era, farts and bangs noblewomen while composing magnificent music at the drop of a hat, all to the chagrin of rival Salieri, who spends so much of his time deviously plotting Mozart's demise it's hard not to imagine Snidely Whiplash in the role.
The Inaccuracies: Sure, Mozart was a man who enjoyed the occasional diarrhea joke, but by all accounts he was far from the filthy-minded, giggling simpleton depicted in the movie. Also, most historians agree that his relationship with Salieri was one of "friendly rivalry, marked by mutual respect and admiration." And though the movie hints that Salieri may have killed Mozart by poisoning him, the truth is Mozart probably drank himself to death on good old-fashioned booze.
Why It Would Have Sucked Otherwise: A movie about Mozart having a friendly rivalry with someone he respects and admires, then slowly drinking himself to death, would have been about as entertaining as home movies of me interacting with my father.