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.
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.
The Fog of War
Using archival footage, 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 Vietnam War as defense secretary for presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
Mona Lisa Smile
The story of Katherine Ann Watson, a feminist teacher who studied at UCLA graduate school and in 1953 left her boyfriend behind in Los Angeles, California to teach at Wellesley College, a conservative women's private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, United States.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Orwell Rolls in His Grave
Has America entered an Orwellian world of doublespeak where outright lies can pass for truth? The country's leading intellectuals discuss and examine the mix of businesses, politics and ideology that is the mainstream media.
Song for a Raggy Boy
William Franklin is a teacher who was born in Ireland and moved to the United States only to repatriate in 1939 after his leftist political views cause him to lose his job. Franklin becomes the first non-cleric instructor at St. Jude's, a school for wayward boys run by Brother John, who is a firm believer in strong discipline.
Hornblower must deliver a French nobleman to a secret rendezvous near Brest, all while coping with enemy agents in his own ranks.
Admiral Pellew interrupts Hornblower's wedding reception and tasks him to locate a British ship which has disappeared off the French coast, where Napoleon's troops are engaged in covert activities.
The filmed account of a large Canadian rock festival train tour boasting major acts. In the summer of 1970, a chartered train crossed Canada carrying some of the world's greatest rock bands. The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band, Buddy Guy, and others lived (and partied) together for five days, stopping in major cities along the way to play live concerts. Their journey was filmed.
Path to War
A powerful drama of soaring ambition and shattered dreams that takes a provocative insider's look at the way the USA goes to war—as seen from inside the LBJ White House leading up to and during the Vietnam War.
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.
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.
The Other Boleyn Girl
Based on the controversial novel by Philippa Gregory, "The Other Boleyn Girl" is a fictionalised account of the life of Lady Mary Boleyn who becomes mistress to England's king, Henry VIII, before being ousted by her younger sister, Anne. Mary leaves the Court to marry a commoner, but returns when Anne embarks on a reckless policy to save herself from ruin.
And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself
In 1914, the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa 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, interests for the proposition and sends the filmmaker Frank Thayer to negotiate a contract with Pancho Villa himself.
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
For most, the idea of Jewish resistance or defiance during the Holocaust is limited to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and a few isolated acts throughout WWII. "Unlikely Heroes", narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley, highlights 7 previously unknown stories of extraordinary men and women who exemplified the highest levels of courage and human dignity during the most desperate days of the Holocaust.
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.
Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There
Broadway: The Golden Age is the most important, ambitious and comprehensive film ever made about America's most celebrated indigenous art form. Award-winning filmmaker Rick McKay filmed over 100 of the greatest stars ever to work on Broadway or in Hollywood. He soon learned that great films can be restored, fine literature can be kept in print - but historic Broadway performances of the past are the most endangered. They leave only memories that, while more vivid, are more difficult to preserve. In their own words — and not a moment too soon — Broadway: The Golden Age tells the stories of our theatrical legends, how they came to New York, and how they created this legendary century in American theatre. This is the largest cast of legends ever in one film.
Life and adventures of lord George Gordon Byron. BBC dramatization of the poet's final thirteen years
Augustus: The First Emperor
Caesar Augustus tells of how he became the emperor to his reluctant daughter, Julia following the death of her husband Agrippa.
Peter and Paul and the Christian Revolution
Two thousand years ago, in the Roman province of Judea, Jesus was crucified by imperial troops. Thousands before him had suffered the same fate. But unlike his predecessors on the cross, Jesus did not disappear from history. Instead, his memory was kept alive by a small band of Jews - men and women who held fast to their conviction that Jesus was the Messiah.
Dramatic documentary about the young German pacifist and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who resisted the Nazi regime and was hanged two weeks before World War II was over.
Sex at 24 Frames Per Second
Directed by Kevin Burns, this documentary from Playboy Home Video examines the oftentimes tense relationship between sex, women, and popular Hollywood culture. With a particular focus given to Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Jean Harlow, and Sharon Stone, Sex at 24 Frames Per Second studies the role of female sexuality in film throughout the years. ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovi
Pompeii: The Last Day
In 79 AD, one of the infamous natural disasters in human history occurred when Mount Vesuvius erupted. With speculative dramatizations of various inhabitants' final hours along with detailed documentation of the known facts concerning the eruption, the horrific day is vividly brought to life.
Teddy Roosevelt: An American Lion
This thorough documentary covers the life of President Theodore Roosevelt, from his birth until his death.
Peter Jennings Reporting: The Kennedy Assassination - Beyond Conspiracy
Forty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, more than 80% of Americans still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. This documentary attempts to separate fact from conspiracy theories to get to the truth, employing stunning forensic technology that makes it possible for the first time to be an eyewitness to this crime of the century – to see precisely what happened that November day in Dallas.
The Good Pope
Angelo Roncalli, born in Sotto Il Monte in 1881, is known for his profound spirituality as well as his extraordinary goodness from the young years of his life. When he feels a need to serve God, Angelo goes to study theology in Bergamo, and in Apollinare School (Rome) and becomes a priest. During his studies, he gets to know his two dearest friends, Mattia and Nicola. Very soon, most people see marvelous talents in him, including his wide knowledge and a constant readiness for sacrifice. The Holy See makes him go further to bishop and cardinal, and the Holy Father sends him to various places as a representative of the Church. When Pius XII dies on October, the 9th, 1958, 77 year-old Angelo goes to Rome, to conclave to choose a new pope. However, this time, it is him who hears gentle words of Jesus "Tu es Petrus!" ("You are Peter!") and from October, the 28th leads the church as pope John XXIII
Learn how one man reluctantly took on the most powerful institution of his day and won. Martin Luther is credited with expounding a new vision of man's relationship with God and, by extension, a redefinition of man's relationship with authority. Filmed across Europe -- from the rustic rural Germany to the opulence of the Vatican City -- you'll witness the collapse of the medieval world and the birth of the modern age.
The Piano Man's Daughter
Terrified of passing on the madness that runs in his family, Charlie Kilworth (Christian Campbell) stays away from relationships that could lead to marriage and children. Meanwhile, his grandparents (R.H. Thomson and Wendy Crewson) are debating whether to put his mother (Stockard Channing) into a mental institution. Whoopi Goldberg shares producing credits on this generational drama adapted from the acclaimed novel by Timothy Findley.
The Celtic queen who shook the Roman Empire. Boudica is one of history’s first and fiercest women warriors. Sickened by ceaseless war, the king of the Iceni accepts a treaty with the Romans in exchange for his tribe’s continued independence. But oppressively high taxes impoverish the tribe and soon the Romans want something more — slaves. Refusing to submit, the Romans, led by the greedy and psychotic Emperor Nero, move to crush the Iceni and control their lands. Drawing on the strength of her warriors, mystical druidic powers, and her own pain, Boudica unites the historically fractious tribes of Briton to unleash a stunning onslaught on the Roman colonial camps. The ferocity of Boudica’s attacks will shake the foundations of the Roman empire and make her a legend.
A group of archaeologists, members of a sect that worships ancient Egypt, working from a sample of her DNA, attempt to bring back to life the beautiful Cleopatra.
An exquisite period piece that skillfully explores the intersections of sex, race and politics takes place in 18th century South Africa, telling the passionate (true) story of two men caught in an unjust system rife with racism, homophobia and cruelty.
Kitty Hawk - The Wright Brothers' Journey of Invention
With boundless perseverance and ingenuity, aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright work to bring their vision to the skies, culminating in the first successful manned flight in December 1903. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and John Glenn read aloud from the brothers' writings as dramatic flight footage illustrates their famed accomplishments.
In need of a grubstake, a young man convinces a couple of friends to help him kidnap Frank Sinatra Jr. It's a true story
Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion
A true story about the tragic explosion at Halifax Harbour, Canada, in the early hours of December 6, 1917.
An exploration into the nature of stupidity in Western society and its history of our perception of it.
Helen of Troy
The abduction of beautiful Helen, wife of Spartan King Menelaus, by Paris of Troy triggers a long war.
The Last Mission
Four days after the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, American airmen are flying the last and longest bombing mission of the war. In Tokyo, a fanatical group of Japanese officers stage a daring coup d'etat in an effort to prolong the war. As the rebels take over Japan's Imperial Palace, and with it - Emperor Hirohito; radio operator Jim Smith and the men of the 315th Bomb Wing are facing their own dangers in the sky above Japan. In a development not anticipated by generals or world leaders - the Last Mission and the coup d'etat converge, helping to bring an end to the most destructive war the world has ever known.
DC 9/11: Time of Crisis
This is the story of the days directly after 9/11, and the president's whereabouts. Scheduled to air shortly before the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks, DC 9/11 takes an inside look at the Bush Administration, beginning with the day of the attacks, and following the President's journey to Ground Zero, culminating with his now famous national address nine days after the attacks.
Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan and the Blacklist: None Without Sin
Director Elia Kazan and playwright Arthur Miller were once best friends and professional colleagues, to most that knew them then in both capacities as soul mates. Their politics were similar which was reflected in their work. Kazan was a Communist Party member for a few years in the mid-1930's, but Miller never officially joined the party ranks. Their relationship changed in the early 1950's when Kazan was subpoenaed to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee where he named names of Communist Party members past and present.