Movies by Geographic Error

Here are the sources (as well as maps and still images, wherever possible) for the Sporcle quiz Movies by Geographic Error.  In most cases I had to obtain the still images from sites other than the sources that reported the errors, and most of the maps I had to create myself.  The quiz presents the questions in a random order, so these are alphabetized by movie title; those beginning with "The" are listed under T because that's how the quiz automatically alphabetizes them.

It should be noted that I'm not making fun of these movies; I understand artistic license, and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is one of my all-time favorites.  However, spotting errors in movies is also fun, so I hope this quiz will appeal to both movie buffs and geography buffs.


The first still image, with the large U.S. flag, could represent anywhere in the United States; the second shows the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey; and the third shows the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.  These images appear in rapid succession at the very end of the movie.  Note that the illumination in the India scene can't be due solely to the explosion itself, which occurs behind the Taj Mahal, or else the front side of the Taj Mahal would be in shadow; instead, the lighting is essentially uniform for everything in the shot, suggesting daylight.

Austin Powers in Goldmember

Mike Myers studied French in school while growing up in Canada, so not surprisingly it was easier for the actor to speak French than Flemish.  Nonetheless, it's ironic that the character's attempt to prove that he's from Bruges actually proves that he couldn't possibly be from Bruges or else he'd know what language is spoken there.

Bird on a Wire

After they reach Racine by ferry, there's a chase scene through Racine's Chinatown district; however, this is another error because Racine doesn't have a Chinatown.  In fact, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are only 93 people in the entire city of Racine who identify themselves as being of Chinese descent.

The Chinatown scene was filmed in Vancouver, so this Vancouver blog has an embedded video of the Chinatown chase scene.  (This video sometimes takes a while to load.)

Map of the ferry route:

Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn entering Racine's Chinatown during the motorcycle chase:

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Because the coordinates were sent without compass directions, humans needed to determine that these numbers meant 104° 44' 30' W, 40° 36' 10' N.  The three other possible interpretations refer to a spot in north-central China (104° 44' 30' E, 40° 36' 10' N), the Indian Ocean (104° 44' 30' E, 40° 36' 10' S), or the South Pacific Ocean (104° 44' 30' W, 40° 36' 10' S); a mid-ocean landing is unlikely if the aliens' goal is to rendezvous with humans, but a landing site in China is presumably as plausible as one in the United States.

This source gets most of the information right, but Denver International Airport isn't at those coordinates either.

David Copperfield

This movie error was mentioned in a contemporary newspaper:  the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times on March 29, 1936.  The locals call the town Yarmouth, but the formal name is Great Yarmouth.  In chapter 3 of the Charles Dickens novel on which the film is based, the character Clara Peggotty describes Great Yarmouth as being "upon the whole, the finest place in the universe."

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

You can also find the road sign mentioned in the script (scene 57):


It's his "my thoughts be bloody" soliloquy, not the more famous "to be or not to be" soliloquy.


"Hitman" also makes the error of placing INTERPOL Headquarters in London, when it's actually in Lyons, France.  I wish I had good still images to illustrate the errors in "Hitman" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," but unfortunately I couldn't find them online.  The scene near the Russian-Turkish border has a caption identifying that as the location, so I'm particularly hoping to find a still image of that one.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Jurassic Park

Note the ocean beach, with crashing waves, behind Wayne Knight:

Krakatoa, East of Java

This is as clear-cut as it gets because the error is in the film's title.  Most sources say that the filmmakers became aware of the error during production but decided not to change it because "east" sounded more exotic than "west."  The film also popularized the spelling Krakatoa, while most Indonesians prefer the spelling Krakatau.


Iguazu Falls is located on the Iguazu River, which is a tributary of the Paraná River; it doesn't lie on the Amazon River as indicated in the film.

Roger Moore, in front of the spectacular Iguazu Falls:

Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Bogotá as it appears in the movie, including aerial view of a tropical village:

An aerial view of real-life Bogotá, a vast urban metropolis:

The climate of Bogotá is cool (not tropically hot) and consistently mild due to its very high altitude, yet the characters and extras wear shorts and sleeveless shirts at night:

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Despite coming from central Missouri, they enter St. Louis by riding a bus that crosses a bridge over the Mississippi River, even though St. Louis is on the western bank of the Mississippi.  The bridge-crossing scene appeared in the movie's trailer because it featured John Candy leading the other bus passengers in singing the theme song from "The Flintstones."


Race the Sun

Raiders of the Lost Ark

In addition to the two errors mentioned in the quiz, the map also includes Jordan, which in 1936 would have been known as Transjordan; it was renamed Jordan in 1949.  Sikkim was an independent kingdom at the time the film was set, albeit under British suzerainty, and remained independent from India even when the latter gained independence in 1947; under a 1950 treaty between India and Sikkim, India gained control of Sikkim's external affairs, defense, and communications, while continuing to recognize Sikkim's status as an independent country.  Sikkim did not give up its independence until 1975, when it was voluntarily absorbed into India following a plebiscite, becoming India's 22nd state.

Source for still images of his route:

Source for the Thailand error:

Source for Sikkim's prior independence from India:

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Rumble in the Bronx

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes

This error is ironic because the line was inserted in an attempt to demonstrate the character's omniscience.  Even if it had been correct, it's funny that the filmmakers expected audiences to be impressed that Kurt Russell's character knew the capital of Pakistan, a fact that most Sporclers know in their sleep.  (The screenwriter, Joseph L. McEveety, died in 1976, so unfortunately he never had the chance to hone his geography skills on Sporcle.)  Interestingly, IMDb cites two geographic errors in the film, but not the Rawalpindi error; the errors IMDb cites are far more nitpicky because one is a mispronunciation of "Aconcagua" and the other is referring to Lebanon, Kansas, as the geographic center of the United States without specifying contiguous United States only.  The only website where I found the pertinent snippet of dialogue doesn't include any recognition that it's an error.

The error is a line spoken by a character, so it doesn't lend itself to a graphic and the video clip wasn't available online, but below is a fun reminder of how Disney portrayed a futuristic computer in 1969.  As a side note, many sources refer to this as a 1970 film, but as IMDb correctly notes, it was released in the United States on Dec. 31, 1969.

The Green Berets

The scene undeniably occurs during sunset, not sunrise, because the sky darkens and becomes more orange over the course of the last two minutes of the film.  Some sources say that the vegetation rules out the southernmost tip of Vietnam, and therefore this is indisputably a goof; that's probably true, but not being an expert on Vietnamese vegetation myself, I'm willing to allow some benefit of the doubt for a film legend like John Wayne.

The Thief of Bagdad

Of course, the movie also features a genie, a flying carpet, and a flying horse that breaks apart when its rider is shot, so this is a fantasy film, unlike every other movie in this quiz.


"Well they have some of the coldest winters around, and I grew up there, near Chippewa Falls. Once when I was a kid me and my father were ice-fishing out on Lake Wissota..."

Complete screenplay (quote appears in scene 65):
Lake Wissota, including the year the dam was completed:
Construction of the dam, formerly the world's largest: 

Photograph of the dam being constructed:

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

This movie might set a record for number of geographic errors; see the source link for a long list, including the fact that Diego Garcia is depicted as mountainous even though its highest point is only 9 feet (3 meters) above sea level.  Israelis might be puzzled by the movie's repeated statements about Jordan and Egypt bordering the Gulf of Aqaba and each other, given that Israel is in between them and also borders the Gulf of Aqaba.  Unfortunately, all of this is hard to capture as a single still image.


"Dry land is not just our destination; it is our destiny!"  Unfortunately, even if the coordinates in the tattoo are known to be north and east (because the numbers aren't accompanied by compass directions), and even if they can be translated by someone who reads Chinese, the latitude and longitude are clearly labelled but switched.  While 27° 59′ N, 86° 56' E are the coordinates for Mount Everest (the sole remaining dry land on Earth in the movie), the tattoo indicates 27° 59′ E, 86° 56' N, which even today lies in a vast and forbidding expanse of water, the Arctic Ocean, approximately 400 miles (680 km) from the nearest piece of land in the Svalbard archipelago.

The tattoo with coordinates, and its English translation:

Map showing the difference between those two locations: