Best History Movies of 2004




In year 1250 B.C. during the late Bronze age, two emerging nations begin to clash. Paris, the Trojan prince, convinces Helen, Queen of Sparta, to leave her husband Menelaus, and sail with him back to Troy. After Menelaus finds out that his wife was taken by the Trojans, he asks his brother Agamemnom to help him get her back. Agamemnon sees this as an opportunity for power. So they set off with 1,000 ships holding 50,000 Greeks to Troy. With the help of Achilles, the Greeks are able to fight the never before defeated Trojans.

Starring: Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana, Brian Cox, Sean Bean
Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
Release date: 2004-05-03



In 1980, the United States Ice Hockey team's coach, Herb Brooks, put a ragtag squad of college kids up against the legendary juggernaut from the Soviet Union at the Olympic Games. Despite the long odds, Team USA carried the pride of a nation yearning for a distraction from world events. With the world watching, the team rose to the occasion, prompting broadcaster Al Michaels' now famous question to the millions viewing at home: "Do you believe in miracles?" Yes!

Starring: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich, Sean McCann, Kenneth Welsh
Directed by: Gavin O'Connor
Release date: 2004-02-06

The Assassination of Richard Nixon


It’s 1974 and Sam Bicke has lost everything. His wife leaves him with his three kids, his boss fires him, his brother turns away from him, and the bank won’t give him any money to start anew. He tries to find someone to blame for his misfortunes and comes up with the President of the United States who he plans to murder.

Starring: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Don Cheadle, Jack Thompson, Nick Searcy
Directed by: Niels Mueller
Release date: 2004-05-17



Alexander, the King of Macedonia, leads his legions against the giant Persian Empire. After defeating the Persians, he leads his army across the then known world, venturing farther than any westerner had ever gone, all the way to India.

Starring: Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Jared Leto, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Release date: 2004-11-21

The Alamo


Based on the 1836 standoff between a group of Texan and Tejano men, led by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, and Mexican dictator Santa Anna's forces at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric, Patrick Wilson, Emilio Echevarría
Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Release date: 2004-04-07

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession
A documentary on the Z Channel, one of the first pay cable stations in the US, and its programming chief, Jerry Harvey. Debuting in 1974, the LA-based channel's eclectic slate of movies became a prime example of the untapped power of cable television.
Starring: Quentin Tarantino, Robert Altman, Jim Jarmusch, Paul Verhoeven, Alexander Payne
Directed by: Xan Cassavetes
Release date: 2004-05-16

The Rise & Fall of Penn Station


In 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad successfully accomplished the enormous engineering feat of building tunnels under New York City's Hudson and East Rivers, connecting the railroad to New York and New England, knitting together the entire eastern half of the United States. The tunnels terminated in what was one of the greatest architectural achievements of its time, Pennsylvania Station. Penn Station covered nearly eight acres, extended two city blocks, and housed one of the largest public spaces in the world. But just 53 years after the station’s opening, the monumental building that was supposed to last forever, to herald and represent the American Empire, was slated to be destroyed.

Starring: Michael Murphy
Directed by: Randall MacLowry
Release date: 2004-02-18


Sentenced to spend out the rest of his adult life laboring in the harsh deserts of Egypt, the Thracian slave Spartacus gets a new lease on life when he is purchased by the obese owner of a Roman gladiator school. Moved by the defiance of an Ethiopian warrior, Draba, Spartacus leads a slave uprising which threatens Rome's status quo. As Spartacus gains sympathy within the Roman Senate, he also makes a powerful enemy in form of Marcus Lucinius Crassus, who makes it a matter of personal honor to crush the rebellion.
Starring: Goran Visnjic, Alan Bates, Angus Macfadyen, Rhona Mitra, Ian McNeice
Directed by: Robert Dornhelm
Release date: 2004-03-17

The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance

The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
From a small Italian community in 15th-century Florence, the Medici family would rise to rule Europe in many ways. Using charm, patronage, skill, duplicity and ruthlessness, they would amass unparalleled wealth and unprecedented power. They would also ignite the most important cultural and artistic revolution in Western history -- the European Renaissance. But the forces of change the Medici helped unleash would one day topple their ordered world.
Starring: Massimo Marinoni, Peter Guinness, Ian Bustard, Niccolo Cioni, Ben De Saumserez
Directed by: Justin Hardy
Release date: 2004-02-04

So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton & MGM

So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton & MGM
A Turner Classic Movies (TCM) documentary about Keaton's discontented relationship with MGM and the events that eventually led to his career downfall.
Starring: James Karen, Buster Keaton, Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle
Directed by: Christopher Bird, Kevin Brownlow
Release date: 2004-12-07

Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death

Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death
This true, astonishing story of what King Leopold II did in the Congo was forgotten for over 50 years. "Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death" describes how King Leopold II of Belgium turned the Congo into his private colony between 1885 and 1908. Under his control, Congo became a gulag labour camp of shocking brutality. Leopold posed as the protector of Africans fleeing Arab slave-traders but, in reality, he carved out an empire based on terror to harvest rubber. From the mid-1880s and lasting for nearly 40 years, an estimated 10 million Congolese were killed under Leopold's reign. The madness only came to an end thanks to the efforts of British journalist and humanitarian E.D. Morel, who exposed the human rights abuses in Congo and published photographs of the mutilated Congolese.
Starring: Nick Fraser, Elie Lison, Roger May, Steve Driesen, Tshilombo Imhotep
Directed by: Peter Bate
Release date: 2004-02-24

Thérèse: The Story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux


The mesmerizing story of a young girl's romance with God. Her faith, trials, and sacrifices reveal a way of life based on love and simplicity. A contemplative film based on the true story of Saint Therese of Lisieux, the most popular saint of modern times.

Starring: Leonardo Defilippis, Maggie Rose Fleck, Susan Funk, Linda Hayden, Sybil Johnson
Directed by: Leonardo Defilippis
Release date: 2004-10-03

Proteus: A Nineteenth Century Vision

Proteus: A Nineteenth Century Vision
The animated documentary Proteus explores the nineteenth century's engagement with the undersea world through science, technology, painting, poetry and myth. The central figure of the film is biologist and artist Ernst Haeckel, who found in the depths of the sea an ecstatic and visionary fusion of science and art.
Starring: Marian Seldes, Corey Burton, Richard Dysart, Phil Proctor, James Warwick
Directed by: David Lebrun
Release date: 2004-01-01

Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire

Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire
Japan blossomed into its Renaissance at approximately the same time as Europe. Unlike the West, it flourished not through conquest and exploration, but by fierce and defiant isolation. And the man at the heart of this empire was Tokugawa Ieyasu, a warlord who ruled with absolute control. This period is explored through myriad voices-- the Shogun, the Samurai, the Geisha, the poet, the peasant and the Westerner who glimpsed into this secret world.
Starring: Michael Auslin, Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey, Richard Chamberlain, Michael Cooper, Luke S. Roberts
Directed by: Deborah DeSnoo, Lyn Goldfarb
Release date: 2004-05-26

Frank Hurley: The Man Who Made History

Frank Hurley: The Man Who Made History
Frank Hurley's photos of Antarctic heroes, World Wars and mysterious natives in faraway jungles grabbed the attention of all who saw them. But just how real were they? Was he a giant in photography or just a conjurer with a camera?
Starring: Linda Cropper, John Noble
Directed by: Simon Nasht
Release date: 2004-08-23

J. Golden

J. Golden Kimball…the very name conjures up salty anecdotes and humorous stories. His straight talk and colorful language have led some to call him the Mormon Mark Twain or Will Rogers. Drawing heavily from the diaries, letters, and speeches of J. Golden Kimball, James Arrington has created a masterful look into the life of this unique LDS leader who has inspired (and entertained) countless Saints throughout the years. J. Golden built faith and hope in the early Saints as he taught them that if he could make it, there was a chance for anybody! As he once stated, "I may not have walked the straight and narrow, but I crossed it as often as I could!" The legendary wit, humor, and warmth of J. Golden are brought to life through Dalin Christiansen’s powerful portrayal of this true LDS folk hero. This one-man show is an hour of entertainment and inspiration you won’t want to miss!
Release date: 2004-01-01

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge
This program tells the story of a hustler and self-promoter, a man who had never designed or overseen the building of a suspension bridge. Joseph Strauss spent thirteen years wrangling with politicians, arguing over designs and fighting lawsuits from opponents before he was able to break ground. By completion, Strauss, his designers and his construction crews had built what has since been called one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World."
Starring: David Ogden Stiers
Directed by: Ben Loeterman
Release date: 2004-05-03

Emma Goldman: An Exceedingly Dangerous Woman

Emma Goldman: An Exceedingly Dangerous Woman
The remarkable life of the immigrant christened "the most dangerous woman in America" is explored in this documentary focusing on noted birth-control advocate and anti-military conscription activist Emma Goldman. A noted Russian-born woman who became the leader of the anarchist movement upon immigrating into the United States, Goldman subsequently earned such nicknames as "Red Emma" and "Queen of the Anarchists" for her outspoken vocal attacks on the government and her staunch opposition to World War I
Starring: Blair Brown, Linda Emond, Denis O'Hare, Jill Anderson, Nathaniel Carlson
Directed by: Mel Bucklin
Release date: 2004-01-01

Gunner Palace

Gunner Palace
American soldiers of the 2/3 Field Artillery, a group known as the "Gunners," tell of their experiences in Baghdad during the Iraq War. Holed up in a bombed out pleasure palace built by Sadaam Hussein, the soldiers endured hostile situations some four months after President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in the country.
Starring: Bryant Davis, Devon Dixon, Javorn Drummond, Elliot Lovett, Nick Moncrief
Directed by: Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker
Release date: 2004-01-01

H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer


Torture chambers, acid vats, greased chutes and gassing rooms were just some of the devices of death designed by the Torture Doctor, H.H. Holmes in his castle of horrors. Follows Holmes' entire life as a criminal mastermind.

Starring: Tony Jay, Willy Laszlo
Directed by: John Borowski
Release date: 2004-01-01

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