Is Girl In The Basement Based On A True Story?



Girl In The Basement is one of the hardest and most emotional documentaries we have seen recently. If you’re wondering if Girl In The Basement is based on a true story, then yes. The fact that it is based on real-life events made it even more surprising. A part of the Lifetime’s ‘ripped from the headline’ series, Girl In The Based is a harrowing tale of family and surviving real-life monsters.

The story of Girl In The Basement includes teenage Sara locked up in their basement by her father, Don. Don tells his wife Irene a lie about Sara escaping to hide his tracks. In actuality, Don rapes and tortures Sara for decades, forcing her to become pregnant with several children.

Also Read: Did you know that “Emily in Paris” is based on a true story?

The Real Case Of Elizabeth Fritzl

The movie takes some liberties with the original case line, to make it more accurate to the audience, toning it down by a lot. They have done a great job of portraying the monstrosity of Joseph Fritzl, the real man who did such heinous things to his daughter.

Although Girl In The Basement is set in the United States, Josef Fritzl held his daughter Elisabeth captive from 1984 to 2008 in the basement of their Amstetten, Austria, house. Elisabeth’s experience started when Josef tricked her into going down the basement, knocked her out with a cloth soaked with ether, and imprisoned her under their home.

Elisabeth was made to compose a letter to her mother Rosemarie by Josef Fritzl, who claimed Elisabeth had not only run away but also expressed a desire to remain undiscovered. Josef sexually assaulted his daughter Elisabeth nearly every day starting in 1984, and their first of seven children was born in 1988.

What Girl In The Basement Movie Changed From Real Life Story? 

Since the movie took some creative liberties, however, it showed him in his worst light. Joseph originally kept Elisabeth imprisoned for 24 years, however, Sara is in the basement for 20 years. The movie adaptation directed by Josef Fritzl is quite loose. The creation of Chris, Sara’s boyfriend in Girl In The Basement, represents the largest shift in this respect.

While Sara Cody is modeled after her father Elisabeth and Don Cody after Josef Fritzl, Chris is completely made up and doesn’t exist in the actual Girl In The Basement tale. The conclusion of Girl In The Basement has drawn particular criticism in this regard.

The idea of Sara and Chris riding off into an implied happily-ever-after is viewed as not only impractical but also blatantly disrespectful to Elisabeth Fritzl’s experience, as she spent years undergoing intense therapy after being discovered by the Austrian Police.

Where Is Elisabeth Fritzl’s Now? 

The real-life Elisabeth is now safe and sound, and the monster of her story is behind bars. Elisabeth is currently under the protection of Austrian authorities and resides safely with her six children in an undisclosed location. She was given a new name for privacy following the case’s trial.

Now grownups, her children not only sleep in rooms with doors left ajar all the time, but they also attend counseling sessions to help them deal with the trauma caused by Josef’s acts. The scars left by such an act remain still, and knowing the truth behind such a movie helps us regain a sense of heartbreak for the young girl, forever scarred by such horror. Therefore, we can only be comforted that justice was finally bought. However, this story also provides a grim understanding of trust and how these crimes happen. 


Knowing that Girl In The Basement is based on a real story is just disturbing. We can’t even imagine what Elisabeth went through all those years. What are your thoughts on the movie? Let us know in the comment box below.

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