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Non-Fictional Flags in movies

Last modified: 2008-07-05 by marc pasquin
Keywords: film | movie | animal house | black robe | casablanca | chariots of fire | dark of the sun | exodus | gettysburg | my cousin vinny | pennies from heaven | plenty | scaramouche | sea hawk | seven wonders | pirates of the caribbean |
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Flags goofs

In this section are flags that have been identified but that are badly reproduced, anachronistic or simply the wrong one in a given context.

Animal House

Though Faber College is in Pennsylvania, the room used during the probation-hearing scene features the Tennessee flag. Aparently, the directors first wanted to use an Oregon flag in that scene, but the "State of Oregon" printed on the flag was too obvious. So they substituted a Tennessee flag as a "generic-looking" US state flag ... although, of course, few flags are more typical of "generic" US state flags than Oregon's own.
Andrew S. Rogers, 8 september 2004

I don't think Faber's location is ever revealed. The movie was filmed on a campus in Oregon, is based on a series of articles about Dartmouth College (in New Hampshire), and has a Pennsylvania...feel, perhaps, but the flag is the only pointer as to where it is.
Nathan Lamm, 8 september 2004

Odd. There is a rich vein of Web sites all indicating Faber was definitively placed in Pennsylvania. But we know how reliable the non-FOTW-ws portions of the 'Net can be, so I gladly yield to you on this. One site seemed to imply that Faber was positively placed in Pennsylvania in the "Delta House" television sitcom that was based on the movie (that was based on the series of articles...)
Andrew S. Rogers, 8 september 2004

Black Robe

Early in the movie you can see the fort of Champlain flying a french merchant flag (white cross on blue). Beside the justnest or not of it flying on *any* fort, in this particular circumstances, we have a first hand document that prove it false.

There is an engraving in the "Voyages du sieur de Champlain" p.187 (which he published in 1613) made from a drawing of his "Abitation de Quebecq" [residence of Quebec]. Over the sun dial can be seen a pole with a flag flying from it. It is rather small but is bifurcated and near the hoist can be seen 3 cross-like objects (1 over 2) which one would assume to be fleur-de-lys. There are no colours but logic would dictate either a white or blue background.
Marc Pasquin, 30 april 2005


I have been trying to identify a flag shown in the movie Casablanca. It is painted on a wall over the legend "Ville de Casablanca" and is a French tricolor defaced with a star and crescent in the center band. The film is in black and white, of course, but I assume the star and crescent are green.
Larry Holderfield, 2 january 2004

[Editor's Note: This is an unexistent flag as can be read here.]

Chariots of Fire

In this movie which involves the Paris Olympics of 1924, the flags on the US uniforms have 50-stars, IIRC. Not that I could count them, but they were definitely in the staggered row pattern of the current S&S, not the grid pattern of the 48-star version of 1912-1959.
Terence Martin, 8 september 2004

Dark of the sun

[Diagonaly divided from bottom hoist red over yellow with a black star at the lower fly]
by David Shiell

This flag was featured in the movie "Dark of the Sun" (MGM 1967). The flag is supposed to represent the Congo, and is seen in the movie flying from a car antenna and painted on a barracks wall.
David Shiell, 30 april 2001

Dracula 2000

Just today I catched the very begining of the movie Dracula 2000. In the opening scene, camera is on the crane traveling from the top of the ship passing next to flying Red-Blue-White (Serbian national/peoples) flag.
Milan Jovanovich, 7 August 2007

First, there's white-blue-red flag of Russia as seen here but a bit later, indeed, there's the Serbian flag which you can see here
Mariusz Borkowski, 8 August 2007

It could very well be that the Russian flag was turned upside down in distress (I haven't seen the movie, nor do I care to, but the second shot shows a crew indeed in distress, I don't know what happened in the intervening shots though.)
David Kendall, 9 August 2007

I just watch the movie, but it looks like that dracula arrived on that ship in 19th century. THey also read some old church slavonic papers, wich is weird since Vlad is from ROmania.
Milan Jovanovic, 9 August 2007

Actually, that ship scene is from 1897, and Serbia did use RBW flag back then. But I think there's no use in searching for logic here, eg. that ship's name - DEMETER - was written in Latin alphabet, unlikely on a ship from either Russia or Serbia (landlocked anyway)...
Mariusz Borkowski, 9 August 2007

The arrival of the Demeter in the port of Whitby is described in Chapters VI and VII of Bram Stoker's "Dracula". The ship is said to be Russian and to come from Varna (Bulgaria). At the end of Chapter VI, a coast guard spots the ship with his telescope and says: "A foreign ship, for sure, probably Russian". There is no mention of a ensign (not in the next Chapter either), but I guess that the coast guard identified the ship through its ensign.
Ivan Sache, 10 August 2007


It was quite amazing to see the Exodus" entering Haifa Port after sailing from Cyprus, (BTW, the real Exodus came from Germany via France and its immigrants were deported to Germany), with very big IL flag on the back (stern?), a small IL flag on the front (bow?) and a UK red ensign on the main mast.....

Well, I can't expect any illegal immigrants ship having such combination of flags....
Dov Gutterman, 9 july 2005


During the 1863 battle of the American Civil War that gave its name to the movie, you see command officers gallop here and yon over the field trailed by staff officers carrying Second National flags, which were used as HQ flags in the CS Army. The problem is, no Second National flags were at Gettysburg in 1863, despite the flag having been enacted by law in early May of that year . There is a single exception to this and it is the mock-up Second National flag for the 32nd North Carolina Infantry, but as they are not portrayed in the film we'll leave this out.

The reason why this was the historical case was a wool bunting shortage at the Richmond Depot which made the flags for Robert E. Lee's army. We have not found a single Second National HQ flag being issued to that army before October, 1863.

The second error is the incorrect version of the Army of Northern Virginia battle flag. Most depicted in the film are of the Fourth Bunting variety, which was not issued until May, 1864! These flags are larger in size to earlier ANV flags and feature larger stars that are more spread out on the arms of the blue crosses rather than the smaller stars that are concentrated on the flag's center star.
Greg Biggs, 28 october 2002

My Cousin Vinny

The setting of the movie "My Cousin Vinny" is the US state of Alabama, a fact central to the plot. The state flag is seen throughout the movie in courthouse scenes (although, incorrectly, to the right of the US flag out front). Oddly, the cover of the video box shows, hanging to either side of the judge, the US flag- and the flag of, of all places, San Francisco (which I doubt is flown even in courts there, state flags being used). The movie was not filmed in San Francisco.
Nathan Lamm, 7 september 2004

Pennies from Heaven

In the Steve Martin-Bernadette Peters remake of "Pennies from Heaven", the later plays a schoolteacher in Depression-era America. The flag chart on her classroom wall shows the anachronistic maple leaf flag of Canada and the trident flag of Barbados
Albert S. Kirsch, 8 september 2004


In this 1985 Meryl Streep movie, Whitney Smith's Guyana flag, designed in the 1960s, is displayed in a scene set during Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953.
Andrew S. Rogers, 8 september 2004


Very near the beginning of the movie we see an envoy sent by the Queen of France (it's set just prior to the revolution, circa 1780), and we get a close-up of the flag carried by the envoy. It is basically a simplified version of the French royal standard, but without the chain or supporters - i.e., the white seme of gold fleurs-de-lys, with a simple shield in the centre (blue with three fleurs-de-lys) topped by a crown.
James Dignan, 2 january 2005

Sea Hawk

On a black and white viewing of "Sea Hawk" with Errol Flynn, in one of the last scenes of the film, Elizabeth Regina comes to the sea port, or on board ship the flag in the background was quarterly England and France - the quarters reprenting France looked to be gold lillies on a white field. I suppose it could have been "light blue" - the film was black and white, remember - Anybody got a comment about that? Any chance that the "French quarters" were on a white field, as opposed to a blue one?
John Udics, 3 january 2005

Not unless it was a mistake from the prop department. "france ancien" represented the english claim the the french throne, a white flag was symbolic of the Bourbon House so would make no sense being used by an english monarch.
Marc Pasquin, 3 january 2005

Seven wonders of the industrial world

Last night I saw a BBC documentary/dramatisation about the Brooklyn Bridge, which showed a reenactment of the opening ceremony.

I'm fairly sure a 44-star flag was shown hoisted at the opening (rows of 8,7,7,7,7,8). Yet the opening was in 1883 - that flag would have been used between 1890 and 1896.
James Dignan, 8 september 2004


In one scene of the movie, the Panamanian flag on the villain's yacht is upside down.
Albert S. Kirsch, 8 september 2004


A movie about the Navajo code senders of World War II. There is one scene where the camera shows a close-up of a US flag flying on a pole and you hear the Navajo soldiers taking the oath of enlistment in the background. This takes place during WWII in the 1940's, yet the stars on the flag are in a staggered pattern as in the current 50 star flag. The full flag isn't shown, so I can't count the stars, but the lower right hand corner of the canton is shown, and the stars are definitely not in the rectangular 48 star pattern.
Michael P. Smuda, 28 october 2002

Flags of uncertain veracity

Casino Royale

The opening scene of the movie takes place in Madagascar, and the guards outside the fictional embassy of Nambutu are clearly wearing Madagascar flag patches although I suppose many embassies around the world have local forces outside.
Nathan Lamm, 28 November 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

[black field, white inverted
by Marc Pasquin, 10 August 2006

Above is the counterfactual flag of the british East India Company as seen in the movie "Pirates of the Caribeans: Dead Man's chest".

The flag has a black field with the Company's logo in white centered. Not only doesn't this flag even remotly resemble one of its historical counterpart but I wasn't even able to match the logo itself with the company's emblem (has someone seen it before ?).

As to why the moviemakers chose to go with this one instead of the real one, baring the lack of research, I can think of 2 reasons:

  1. The black field makes the company looks more like the bad guys.
  2. possible confusion with the US national flag.
The first one goes without explanation as to the second, Holywood does have a habit of oversimpliflying/rewriting history when it think its viewers might get confused. The exact reason why all the british soldiers, irrespective of regiment, seem to wear red coat in US-made movies.
Marc Pasquin, 10 August 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

[blue field, white inverted
by Tyler Dykstra, 25 May 2007

I saw something like the above flag in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. It is flown by many of the British ships in the film.

From the initials, I assume it's an East India Company flag. Was this a real flag, or was it invented for the film, maybe because of the resemblance between the real E.I.C. flag and the U.S. flag, which would probably confuse a lot of people?
Tyler Dykstra, 25 May 2007

They Died With Their Boots On

The movie is a 1941-vintage black-and-white Errol Flynn extravaganza sanitizing Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer's life-- and death.

In the opening part dealing with the Civil War, a confederate cavalry detachment is shown riding into battle against the U.S. cavalry with a rectangular battle flag with the southern cross affixed in what appears to be the same dimension as the English cross of St. George-- a blue vertical and horizontal affair with the requisite 13 white five-pointed stars. At least the red field and white outline of the cross seem to be in evidence. I have no idea where Jack Warner came up with letting that one slip by him, and his production chief, Hal B. Wallis, was no slouch when it came to historical research.
Bob Tobin, 19 february 2006

[editor's note: Since the movie is in a black & white, the flag could be one following the "Polk" design which can be seen here]

Unidentified flags

Please note that the flags that appear in this section are those not yet identified but considered "a priori" to be either obscure flags, badly recreated ones or simply goofs (and not flags representing fictional entities).

55 Days at Peking

The movie stars David Niven and Charlton Heston. The film opens with the hoisting of the various foreign legation flags in the Foreign Compound next to the Forbidden City. A Royal Marine Band played God Save the Queen while a Union Jack was raised. It had a central device which I could not make out, surrounded by a green garland, rather like the Colonial Governor's standards from that epoch. But of course no Governor in Peking. What could it have been? A special legation flag? (Always assuming of course that the film makers knew what they were doing)
Andre Burgers, 19 july 2004


I am trying to obtain information on the U.S. flags shown in the parade scene of the 1989 motion picture "Glory" starring Matthew Broderick.

As far as I can tell, they could either be the Lincoln Parade Flag (but I don't know when this flag was created) or the Great Flower Flag (which fits the time period), but may also be a different flag altogether.
Terry Sackett, 4 april 2005

Tarzan, the ape-man

A few days back, I was waiting for my email to download and turned the TV on for a little zapping while I waited...
... and all of a sudden, there was a flag floating on a ship. It was on screen for a very short time, but looked like this: a light green treefoil (of sorts) on white.

I learned later, after checking the TV programming in the newspaper, that it was a movie: the portuguese title (Tarzan, o Homem Macaco) can be translated back into English as "Tarzan, the Ape-man". It's a John Derek motion picture, with the very blonde Bo Derek as Jane .
Jorge Candeias, 31 march 2001

To be or not to be

The banner appears in the Mel Brooks remake of "To Be Or Not To Be." It was a rectangular banner, hanging on an office wall. At the top (in chief?) was the Nazi flag (a horizontal red bar with the white circle and black swastika). The rest of the banner was a vertical black-white-red tricolor. A real banner or just a movie prop?
Phil Cleary, 24 November 1999

Crimson Pirate

I recently viewed the movie The Crimson Pirate (1952), starring Burt Lancaster. While liking the movie will depend on your tastes, it does show a lot of flags and banners. The main flag on the ship of "the King" is a many divided variation of a flag of Spain. Castile and Leon dominate the upper left with at least 6 other divisions.
Michael P. Smuda, 16 april 2004

Master And Commander

In the film (set in 1805), there is a scene where the British warship disguises itself as a whaler, hoisting a white flag with a black diamond (not touching the edges). Can someone shed some light on this?
Nathan Lamm, 23 august 2004


I went to see "Max" a movie about Hitler's early years... A couple scenes show a red flag with a dark (black?) star in the center. The year was 1918 and I assume the country was germany .. What flag would this be?
Ted LeBlond, 03 march 2003

Only a guess, but in 1918 Germany was wracked by civil disorder after the Kaiser abdicated; the flag you describe might be (authentic or not) a political flag of some kind.
Al Kirsch, 03 march 2003

Given the coloration, this may be an anarchist flag, but that is only speculation. It also brings to mind socialist and communist groups.
Steve Kramer, 04 march 2003

Rainbow Warrior

The entry can be read

The talented mister Ripley

The trailer I just saw on TV of the movie "The Talented Mr Ripley" (Matt Damon) shows a scene in which the star is piloting a gondola (or something like that). Behind him is a large red flag with yellow ornate, oriental type design on it.
Steve Stringfellow, 06 January 2000

It is the flag of Venice
Antonio Martins, 07 January 2000

Speed 2

[Flag from Speed 2]
by Jorge Candeias

Yesterday I went to the cinema to see the film 'Speed 2', in which appear 3 different flags: the flag of France, the Norwegian naval ensign and a flag I couldn't identify: a black-purple-yellow horizontal tricolour. It appears when the ship crashes into the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbeans, probably in the french half of it, since there is also the french tricolour flying
Jorge Candeias 01 September 1997

[ED. Note: later contributions speculated that it might be a faded or oddly lighted German flag]


[divided horizontaly in a 1-2-1 ratio blue over white over blue. a red star in the white band]
by Nelson Román

The following flag appeared in the film "K-19" as one of the soviet naval flags flown on the submarine or presented during the film associated with the ship.
Blas Delgado Ortiz, 25 january 2003

This is a fictional flag, not a real one or a prototype.
Victor Lomantsov, 26 january 2003

Well, it is either based on / inspired by, or mistaken for, the soviet ensign of 1935-1991 -- with a second blue stripe at the top and missing the hammer-and-sickle emblem.

The approximate similarity may be thus intentional or not, but either way this is not your typical "fictional flag", even if these frequently resemble real flags (especially when the «typical south american / central european / sotheast asian / whatever country» is inspired by a very specific single-country reality) -- as it (I assume) is intended to be a Soviet flag, not the flag of an unnamed fictional country so much alike the Soviet Union.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 28 january 2003

Based on a true story about a cold war Soviet sub. Starred Harrison Ford. National Geographic's first feature film, made with Paramount.
Nathan Lamm, 28 january 2003

Unidentified motion picture

It was in an Unidentified Motion Picture (UMP) that had a plot evolving around a breakaway russian republic (or so it seemed by the bit I saw) and the UFE was, I guess, it's national flag. The flag was quite well seen, hanging on the wall behind one of the bad guys that where trying to break away from Russia: it was the russian flag with a golden yellow star added to it, old yugoslavian-style. The flag seemed to me longer than the standard 2:3 dimentions, but not as long as 1:2, so I made it 3:5.

I didn't have time to go on watching, and later when I had a minute to go to the day's newspaper and check the UMP's title, it (the newspaper) had already been sent to the recycling spot. But it was american.
Jorge Candeias, 30 june 2001