5 IRL Movie-Influenced Events (That Don't Seem Possible)

5 IRL Movie-Influenced Events (That Don't Seem Possible)

Reality is messy, random, and stupid. Movies are better -- every character has an arc, every ending is earned, and the impossible becomes almost inevitable. Nothing wraps up that neatly in reality. Well, not unless you're one of these folks, who apparently hired professional screenwriters to script their lives ...

Hugo Cures A Man's Sight

Hugo was a Martin Scorsese film about a French kid living in a train station, and was also supposed to be a dignified and classy "love letter to cinema" in general. So obviously it was filmed in 3D, the most dignified and classy number of dimensions.

It sounds silly, but to Bruce Bridgeman -- and probably only Bruce Bridgeman -- Hugo was a legitimately life-changing film. Watching it literally helped him see again.

Paramount Pictures

"And here I was spending all my money on these fancy 'doctors.' Bullshit."

Bridgeman was born with partially impaired stereovision -- better known as "lazy eye" -- wherein one's eyes have a tendency to drift independently, making your brain unable to accurately process depth. But when Bruce saw Hugo in 3D, he was not only able to see the "depth" in the film, but he also came out of the theater suddenly able to perceive, in his words, "a riot of depth" in the outside world.

This sudden dramatic breakthrough did have scientific precedent. A 2011 study documenting five people with impaired stereovision who later learned to see in 3D concluded that people "were most likely to have a breakthrough if the stereoscopic images were reinforced by monocular cues like relative size and shading." In short, Hugo was so effective at creating the illusion of depth that it helped Bridgeman's mind establish the necessary synaptic connections to bridge the gap to fully-functioning stereovision.

Paramount Pictures

Okay, but we still agree 3D sucks overall, right?

They really should've deleted every other pull quote on the poster and gone with "Gives the gift of sight!" Not many marketing departments downplay a miracle, Hugo PR team.

The Passion Of The Christ Causes Criminals To Break Down And Confess

Mel Gibson played an excellent Road Warrior and a pretty good Lethal Weapon, so of course that gives him the right to lecture the world on religion and morality. And lecture he did, in the form of his biblical epic The Passion Of The Christ. Here's the thing about lectures, though: Sometimes they work. For instance, The Passion Of The Christ has helped elicit confessions out of multiple criminals.

Observe the case of Dan Leach II, a Texas man who strangled his pregnant wife to death. Leach staged the death to look like a suicide, and had successfully fooled the police -- until he happened to see Passion. Overcome with guilt, he confessed to the crime and was sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Icon Productions

"I know I was all about forgiveness for everybody, but you're pushing it, buddy."

In Florida, a bank robber who got away with $25,000 claimed the movie convinced him to admit his guilt, and he turned himself in after evading capture for two years. A Neo-Nazi in Norway had a change of heart after seeing the film, and confessed to bombing a youth group's building a full decade earlier. So yes, something created by Mel Gibson helped combat anti-Semitism. We're sure he's as surprised as anybody.

Icon Productions

"Damn, guess I'll have to try harder in the sequel ..."

Mississippi Burning Helps Convict White Supremacists

Jerry Mitchell was a young journalist working for a Mississippi newspaper back in 1989 when he was assigned to cover the premiere of a film called Mississippi Burning -- it seems Mississippi will jump all over anything about themselves. The movie told the story of two FBI agents, played by Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe, who investigated the murders of civil rights workers in the '60s. The movie's story was technically fictional, but the premise was based on an all-too-painful historical reality.

Orion Pictures

You believe normal people could think half this shit up?

In fact, the plot was almost identical to a real-life incident wherein three Mississippi civil rights workers mysteriously disappeared, and were eventually found murdered in 1964. Although members of the Ku Klux Klan were indicted in the investigation, many of them were acquitted. When Mitchell attended the film's premiere in the '80s, he watched it with the same FBI agents who investigated the real-life 1964 case, and in the course of their extremely casual small talk ("Sooo, how bout those Klan murders?"), Mitchell asked them why the killers were never brought to justice.

The agents explained that, essentially, "Everyone knew who did it, but the state thought convicting them would be impossible." Mitchell wasn't satisfied with that answer, and decided to look into the case himself. Lo and behold, his reporting led to the retrial and conviction of one of the Klansmen involved in the murders, 41 years after the case was closed.

Orion Pictures

The sequel script he wrote, Jerry Mitchell: Big Dick Justice, sadly remains unproduced.

A whole bunch of other civil rights cold cases have been reopened because of Mitchell's efforts, with some ending in convictions. Such is the undeniable transformative power of Gene Hackman.

The 21 & Over Trailer Reunites Long-Lost Twins

Anais Bordier was living in London when a friend sent her a YouTube video called "High School Virgin," and pointed out that the girl in it looked exactly like her:


"You goddamn racis- oh wait, that actually does look like me."

The resemblance was indeed uncanny, but the video didn't list any credits, so she didn't give it a second thought. A few weeks later, Bordier was watching a trailer for the movie 21 & Over (working title: The Hangover, But With Teens) and saw her doppelganger again. This time, she managed to track down a name: Samantha Futerman, an LA-based actress who happened to be born in the same South Korean city as Bordier, and on the same day.

Relativity Media

"Man, what a coincidence. Welp, see you later!"

Bordier managed to track down Futerman on Facebook, and eventually met her in person. Turns out they were indeed twins who had been separated at birth. Bordier was adopted by a couple in Paris, and Futerman by a family in New Jersey (aka "Paris II"). They later released an award-winning documentary and book about their experience, which is surely the only notable impact of 21 & Over.

Lincoln Reminds Mississippi To "Officially" End Slavery

Steven Spielberg's movies have made us terrified of sharks, velociraptors, and dick-shaped aliens who want to steal our precious candy, but his most significant cultural impact may have come from Lincoln (basically the only one of his films you didn't see), which led to the state of Mississippi officially ratifying the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery.

Walt Disney Studios

Mississippi is so into movies, you guys.

When Mississippi resident Ranjan Batra saw the film, he did some research on the topic and learned, incredibly, that his home state didn't vote to ratify the 13th Amendment (it still became law in 1865, after three quarters of the states passed it) until 1995. Then, on top of waiting 130 years, Mississippi's secretary of state plain forgot to mail it to a federal office, which would make it official. Condemning slavery simply wasn't a very high priority in Mississippi. They had matinees to attend.

Walt Disney Studios

"Ain't nobody paying full price to see 21 & Over."

But thanks to Batra's Lincoln-inspired efforts, the error was fixed and the ratification was filed in 2013. Now if we could only get Mississippi to watch Robocop. Maybe they'd start funneling some much-needed funds into vital cyborg police enforcement programs.

Kyle is a former journalist who lives in Korea (the nice one). He writes about the expat life on Medium, and likes to retweet people who are funnier than him on his Twitter.

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