Best History Movies of 2004
Inspired by true events, this film takes place in Rwanda in the 1990s when more than a million Tutsis were killed in a genocide that went mostly unnoticed by the rest of the world. Hotel owner Paul Rusesabagina houses over a thousand refuges in his hotel in attempt to save their lives.
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.
The story of the Arthurian legend, based on the 'Sarmatian hypothesis' which contends that the legend has a historical nucleus in the Sarmatian heavy cavalry troops stationed in Britain, and that the Roman-British military commander, Lucius Artorius Castus is the historical person behind the legend.
When college coach Herb Brooks is hired to helm the 1980 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team, he brings a unique and brash style to the ice. After assembling a team of hot-headed college all-stars, who are humiliated in an early match, Brooks unites his squad against a common foe: the heavily-favored Soviet team.
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.
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.
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.
Alone in the Wilderness
Dick Proenneke retired at age 50 in 1967 and decided to build his own cabin in the wilderness at the base of the Aleutian Peninsula, in what is now Lake Clark National Park. Using color footage he shot himself, Proenneke traces how he came to this remote area, selected a homestead site and built his log cabin completely by himself. The documentary covers his first year in-country, showing his day-to-day activities and the passing of the seasons as he sought to scratch out a living alone in the wilderness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
David Grubin's probing and perceptive biography reassesses the remarkable and tragic life of Bobby Kennedy, whose early life was spent in the shadow of his elder brother John. After JFK's assassination, he discovered his own identity in the forefront of American politics before his career was also tragically curtailed by an assassin's bullet.
Uncovered: The War on Iraq
The feature-length version of producer/director Robert's Greenwald's short documentary phenomenon "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About The Iraq War." The film deconstructs the current American administration's case for war in Iraq through interviews with U.S. intelligence professionals, diplomats and former Pentagon officials, including a former director of the C.I.A., two former Secretaries of Defense, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and even President Bush's former Secretary of the Army.
Disaster at Chernobyl
The explosion at Chernobyl was ten times worse than the Hiroshima bomb and was due to a combination of human error and imperfect technology. An account of the sixty critical minutes prior to the explosion of the nuclear power plant on the night of April 26, 1986.
Ghosts of Rwanda
Ghosts of Rwanda marks the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide with a documentary chronicling one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. In addition to interviews with key government officials and diplomats, this documentary offers eyewitness accounts of the genocide from those who experienced it firsthand. FRONTLINE illustrates the failures that enabled the slaughter of 800,000 people to occur unchallenged by the global community.
Zero Hour: Massacre at Columbine High
This movie covers the final hour leading up to the Columbine High Massacre. On April 20, 1999, two boys from Columbine High School in Colorado embarked on a massacre and killed 12 students, one teacher, and injured 21 other students, before turning the guns on themselves.
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.
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.
Last Letters Home
Ten families read letters from their loved ones killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom in this powerful and moving HBO documentary by Oscar and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Bill Couturie (Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam). Photos of the soldiers in military and civilian life are shown as family members read the final correspondence received from Iraq and share their thoughts and memories about the fallen troops and the realities of war.
The Friday the 13th Chronicles
2004 docu-drama film franchise to Crystal Lake to Manhattan.
Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death
This true, astonishing story describes how King Leopold II of Belgium turned Congo into its private colony between 1885 and 1908. Under his control, Congo became a gulag labor 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.
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.
The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 2: Vaux to the Sea
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.
Al-Ghazali: The Alchemist of Happiness
Exploring the life and impact of the greatest spiritual and legal philosopher in Islamic history, this film examines Ghazali's existential crisis of faith that arose from his rejection of religious dogmatism, and reveals profound parallels with our own times. Ghazali became known as the Proof of Islam and his path of love and spiritual excellence overcame the pitfalls of the organised religion of his day. His path was largely abandoned by early 20th century Muslim reformers for the more strident and less tolerant school of Ibn Taymiyya. Combining drama with documentary, this film argues that Ghazali's Islam is the antidote for today's terror.
Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust
Daniel Anker’s 90-minute documentary takes on over 60 years of a very complex subject: Hollywood’s complicated, often contradictory relationship with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. The questions it raises go right the very nature of how film functions in our culture, and while hardly exhaustive, Anker’s film makes for a good, thought provoking starting point.
The story of the Hakoah Vienna Jewish womens swim team of the 1930s, their forced separation, and their reunion decades later.
Vikings: Journey to New Worlds
Filmmaker Marc Fafard examines the historical and cultural significance of the seafaring Vikings.
Therese: The Story of Saint Therese 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.
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.
Inside the Great Battles
Mixing real-life locations, archival battle footage, and 21st-century animation, we tell the story of history's greatest conflicts. Viewers are taken inside the tunnels of Iwo Jima to tell the story of this pivotal WWII battle from both the US and Japanese soldiers' viewpoint.
Pearl Harbor: A Day of Infamy
On the morning of December 7, 1941, a surprise attack by Japanese naval aviation against the American held island of Oahu and Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into World War II. This story details one of the most momentous events in American history and a crucial turning point in the 20th century. Most importantly, it is a story of the people who were there, told through eyewitness accounts of American and Japanese veterans, some of whose stories have never been told. This is a story of perseverance and heroism in the face of overwhelming odds. This is the story of Pearl Harbor.
Ten Days to D-Day
Following the lives of ten characters through their letters and diaries in the ten days before D-Day. The mini-series contains documentary interviews with the people on which the book, and this mini-series were based.
The History Channel biography on the life and achievements of one of this nation's founding fathers.
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."
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.
Civil War Gold
Join a team of explorers as they brave the Atlantic Ocean, on a search for the 140-year old steamship S.S. Republic, and its massive treasure of artifacts and gold and silver coins.
Remember the Alamo
In the early 1830s Texas was about to explode. Although ruled by Mexico, the region was home to more than 20,000 U.S. settlers agitated by what they saw as restrictive Mexican policies. Mexican officials, concerned with illegal trading and immigration, were prepared to fight hard to keep the province under their control. Caught in the middle were the area's 4,000 Mexican Texans or Tejanos. With war on the horizon, the Tejanos had to pick a side. Many chose to fight with their Anglo neighbors against an army sent by Mexico City. The conflict pitted brother against brother and devastated the community. The Tejano gamble for a more prosperous future in an independent Texas proved tragic. Following the revolution, the Tejanos were overwhelmed by a surge of Anglo immigration -- leaving them foreigners in a land they had fought to defend.
In The Shadow of Gold Mountain
Filmmaker Karen Cho travels from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, a set of laws imposed to single out the Chinese as unwanted immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1947. Through a combination of history, poetry and raw emotion, this documentary sheds light on an era that shaped the identity of generations.
Quest for King Arthur
Patrick Stewart narrates the investigation into the true origin of Britain's King Arthur and his fabled heroes, and whether or not Camelot exists in some forgotten corner of England.
Bell Witch Haunting
The Bell Witch Haunting" is a powerful supernatural historic thriller based on terrifying actual events that took place in Robertson County, Tennessee from 1817 to 1821, in which a spirit tormented John Bell and his family, leaving him in a terrifying fight against the vengeful ghost to save his children and his own life. The haunting is the only known case where a spirit actually took credit for killing someone. After visiting the Bells home, Andrew Jackson said, "I vow I would rather fight the entire British Army single handed then face this witch again." Written by Ric White
First Invasion: The War of 1812
First Invasion: The War of 1812, a History Channel documentary that first aired in 2004, portrays a young United States of America "on the brink of annihilation" as it battles the largest and most powerful empire on earth. Critics say the documentary is far too pro-American, and that it ignores or downplays crucial elements of the War of 1812. Others praise First Invasion for its compelling presentation of a far too neglected period of 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?
Troy: The Passion of Helen
Legend has it that Helen's legendary beauty and sexual allure led to the destruction of Troy. This film presents a different portrait of the woman whose face famously launched a thousand ships. Scholars such as Camille Paglia and Arianna Huffington examine Helen as a woman and as a sexual being.
Hitler & Stalin: Roots of Evil
An examination of the paranoia, cold-bloodedness, and sadism of two of the 20th century's most brutal dictators and mass murderers: Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
In Search of Easter
Travel back to Jerusalem with modern-day scholars to discover the timeless mysteries surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Two thousand years ago, three words were uttered in the ancient world that ignited a religious movement that changed the course of history: 'He has risen.' Through Christian and Jewish scholars we relive the drama of the Easter story and learn how the four gospels offer contradictory versions of the events.
Carthage: The Roman Holocaust
When Rome was still in its infancy, Carthage was the dominant power of the Mediterranean. As Rome grew, Carthage remained its only great rival. It was that rivalry that drove Rome to utterly destroy Carthage, and massacre its people.
A fascinating story of the truth behind the legend and history of St Patrick. This special will feature the world reknown voices of two of Ireland's incredible top actors: with narration by Liam Neeson and also Gabriel Byrne supplying the voice of Patrick. The story of the real St. Patrick is a fabulous mix of part adventure tale and part spiritual awakening. His radical ideas were suspect and he attracted the censure of the Church establishment in Roman Britain. Patrick refused to compromise this commitment and soon won the respect and love of the Irish and even the finally the reluctant support of his detractors. He started out as a slave an eventually became a liberator, who learned to forgive and ultimately love his enemies.
The Hotel Hooker was once a quiet rooming house nestled in the suburbs of Connecticut. In the summer of 2003, the national media exploited it as a drug stop, a prostitution ring, and a dangerous place to live. Don't believe everything that you hear. Meet the residents of the Hotel Hooker, as they struggle to uncover the truth behind the controversy. This is the story of a town fighting back against their image. This is a story about the lies we read and listen to every day. This is the story about the labels we place and the sterotypes that exist around us. Through intimate and often hilarious interviews, 'Heroin Town' follows the residents of the hotel and the people of Willimantic, Connecticut as they try to restore the damage that destroyed their hometown. It is a story of hope, dedication, humor, and ultimately survival.
Eisenhower National Historic Site
Features the Eisenhower Home and Farm Tour, plus three notable bonus programs for the Eisenhower aficionado: a biography on his life and career; a 1955 presidential press conference; and an orientation tour of neighboring Gettysburg National Military Park.