Best History Movies of 2003


The Last Samurai


Nathan Algren is an American hired to instruct the Japanese army in the ways of modern warfare, which finds him learning to respect the samurai and the honorable principles that rule them. Pressed to destroy the samurai's way of life in the name of modernization and open trade, Algren decides to become an ultimate warrior himself and to fight for their right to exist.

Starring: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, William Atherton, Chad Lindberg, Billy Connolly
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Release date: 2003-12-05

The Fog of War


Using archival footage, United States Cabinet conversation recordings, and an interview of the 85-year-old Robert McNamara, THE FOG OF WAR depicts his life, from working as a WWII whiz kid military officer, to being the Ford Motor Company's president, to managing the American Vietnam War, as defense secretary for presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

Starring: Robert McNamara, Errol Morris, Fidel Castro, Barry Goldwater, John F. Kennedy
Directed by: Errol Morris
Release date: 2003-12-09



True story of the undersized Depression-era racehorse whose victories lifted not only the spirits of the team behind it but also those of their nation.

Starring: Jeff Bridges, David McCullough, Chris Cooper, Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks
Directed by: Gary Ross
Release date: 2003-07-22

Cold Mountain


In this classic story of love and devotion set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, a wounded Confederate soldier named W.P. Inman deserts his unit and travels across the South, aiming to return to his young wife, Ada, who he left behind to tend their farm. As Inman makes his perilous journey home, Ada struggles to keep their home intact with the assistance of Ruby, a mysterious drifter sent to help her by a kindly neighbor.

Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson
Directed by: Anthony Minghella
Release date: 2003-12-24

Shattered Glass


The true story of fraudulent Washington, D.C. journalist Stephen Glass, who rose to meteoric heights as a young writer in his 20s, becoming a staff writer at The New Republic for three years. Looking for a short cut to fame, Glass concocted sources, quotes and even entire stories, but his deception did not go unnoticed forever, and eventually, his world came crumbling down.

Starring: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chloë Sevigny, Rosario Dawson, Melanie Lynskey
Directed by: Billy Ray
Release date: 2003-11-14

Saints and Soldiers


Five American soldiers fighting in Europe during World War II struggle to return to Allied territory after being separated from U.S. forces during the historic Malmedy Massacre.

Starring: Larry Bagby, Alexander Polinsky, Kirby Heyborne, Corbin Allred, Ethan Vincent
Directed by: Ryan Little
Release date: 2003-09-11


During the early 16th Century idealistic German monk Martin Luther, disgusted by the materialism in the church, begins the dialogue that will lead to the Protestant Reformation.
Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Jonathan Firth, Claire Cox, Alfred Molina, Peter Ustinov
Directed by: Eric Till
Release date: 2003-10-29

Ned Kelly


After getting threatened by Kelly's friends and family, Constable Fitzpatrick places the blame on Ned Kelly and exaggerates what happened. With the biggest ever award available, Kelly and his gang set into the wild, to remain hidden from everyone who seeks them. Even if it means having his family arrested, the members of the Kelly Gang stay hidden and plan a way to get their names cleared.

Starring: Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts, Joel Edgerton
Directed by: Gregor Jordan
Release date: 2003-03-22

Hitler: The Rise of Evil

Hitler: The Rise of Evil
A unique slant, profiling the life of Adolf Hitler as a child and his rise through the ranks of the National German Workers' Party prior to World War II.
Release date: 2003-05-18

Hitler: The Rise of Evil

Hitler: The Rise of Evil
The movie describes the life of Adolf Hitler from childhood to manhood, and his rise to power. From his poor childhood in Austria, the first world war from his point of view, we see how Hitler was transformed from a poor soldier into the leader of the Nazis, and how he survived all attempts to kill him. We learn of his relationship with his mistress Eva Braun, his decisions and of his enemies inside the Nazi party.
Release date: 2003-03-18

The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John

The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John
A word for word depiction of the life of Jesus Christ from the Good News Translation Bible as recorded in the Gospel of John.
Starring: Christopher Plummer, Henry Ian Cusick, Stuart Bunce, Daniel Kash, Stephen Russell
Directed by: Philip Saville
Release date: 2003-09-11

Hitler: The Rise of Evil


A unique slant, profiling the life of Adolf Hitler as a child and his rise through the ranks of the National Socialist German Workers' Party prior to World War II.

Starring: Robert Carlyle, Matthew Modine, Liev Schreiber, Peter Stormare, Peter O'Toole
Directed by: Christian Duguay
Release date: 2003-05-27

Gods and Generals


The film centers mostly around the personal and professional life of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, a brilliant if eccentric Confederate general, from the outbreak of the American Civil War until its halfway point when Jackson is killed accidentally by his own soldiers in May 1863 during his greatest victory.

Starring: Stephen Lang, Jeff Daniels, Robert Duvall, Kevin Conway, C. Thomas Howell
Directed by: Ronald F. Maxwell
Release date: 2003-02-21

Hornblower: Loyalty

Hornblower: Loyalty
Hornblower is given a dangerous mission to deliver an emigre French nobleman to a secret rendezvous near Brest while coping with enemy agents in his own ranks.
Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Robert Lindsay, Paul McGann, Lorcan Cranitch, Tony Haygarth
Directed by: Andrew Grieve
Release date: 2003-01-05

The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 1: The Moab Story


The Tulse Luper Suitcases reconstructs the life of Tulse Luper, a professional writer and project-maker, caught up in a life of prisons. He was born in 1911 in Newport, South Wales and presumably last heard of in 1989. His life is reconstructed from the evidence of 92 suitcases found around the world - 92 being the atomic number of the element Uranium. The project includes three feature films, a TV series, 92 DVDs, CD-ROMs, and books.

Starring: J. J. Feild, Caroline Dhavernas, Jordi Mollà, Steven Mackintosh, Raymond J. Barry
Directed by: Peter Greenaway
Release date: 2003-05-24

Festival Express


The filmed account of a large Canadian rock festival train tour.

Starring: Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson
Directed by: Bob Smeaton, Frank Cvitanovich
Release date: 2003-09-19

The Lion in Winter


King Henry II (Patrick Stewart) keeps his wife, Eleanor (Glenn Close) locked away in the towers because of her frequent attempts to overthrow him. With Eleanor out of the way he can have his dalliances with his young mistress (Yuliya Vysotskaya). Needless to say the queen is not pleased, although she still has affection for the king. Working through her sons, she plots the king's demise and the rise of her second and preferred son, Richard (Andrew Howard), to the throne. The youngest son, John (Rafe Spall), an overweight buffoon and the only son holding his father's affection is the king's choice after the death of his first son, young Henry. But John is also overly eager for power and is willing to plot his father's demise with middle brother, Geoffrey (John Light) and the young king of France, Phillip (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Geoffrey, of course sees his younger brother's weakness and sees that route as his path to power. Obviously political and court intrigue ensues

Starring: Glenn Close, Patrick Stewart, Andrew Howard, Antal Konrád, Rafe Spall
Directed by: Andrei Konchalovsky
Release date: 2003-12-26

Henry VIII

Henry VIII
Henry VIII is a two-part British television movie produced principally by Granada Television for ITV. It chronicles the life of Henry VIII of England from the disintegration of his first marriage to an aging Spanish princess until his death following a stroke in 1547, by which time he had married for the sixth time. Additional production funding was provided by WGBH Boston, Powercorp and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Starring: Ray Winstone, Joss Ackland, Sid Mitchell, Charles Dance, Mark Strong
Directed by: Pete Travis
Release date: 2003-10-12

And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself

And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself
In 1914, the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa (Antonio Banderas) invites studios to shoot his actual battles against Porfírio Diaz army to raise funds for financing guns and ammunition. The Mutual Film Corporation, through producer D.W. Griffith (Colm Feore), interests for the proposition and sends the filmmaker Frank Thayer (Eion Bailey) to negotiate a contract with Pancho Villa himself.
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Eion Bailey, Alan Arkin, Jim Broadbent, Matt Day
Directed by: Bruce Beresford
Release date: 2003-09-07

The Pentagon Papers

The Pentagon Papers
This compelling political drama is based on the true story of high-ranking Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg, who, during the Nixon era, strove to preserve American democracy by leaking top-secret documents to the New York Times and Washington Post. The documents in question would eventually become famous as the Pentagon Papers, which revealed the true reasons for U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Starring: James Spader, Claire Forlani, Paul Giamatti, Alan Arkin, Kenneth Welsh
Directed by: Rod Holcomb
Release date: 2003-03-09

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