Best History Movies of 2004

1.

Hotel Rwanda

6.5
8.1/10

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.

Starring: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte, Fana Mokoena, Joaquin Phoenix
Directed by: Terry George
Release date: 2004-09-11
2.

Troy

6.1
7.2/10

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
3.

Miracle

5.3
7.5/10

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.

Starring: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich, Sean McCann, Kenneth Welsh
Directed by: Gavin O'Connor
Release date: 2004-02-06
4.

King Arthur

5.3
6.3/10

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.

Starring: Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd, Keira Knightley, Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Edgerton
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Release date: 2004-07-07
5.

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

5.0
7.0/10

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
6.

Alexander

4.8
5.6/10

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
7.

The Alamo

4.4
6.0/10

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
8.

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession

3.9
7.7/10
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
9.

The Rise & Fall of Penn Station

3.6
7.8/10

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
10.

Spartacus

3.6
6.7/10
Spartacus
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
11.

Disaster at Chernobyl

3.3
7.7/10
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.
Starring: David Morrissey, Igor Slavinskiy, Aleksander Khoroshko, Alexander Yuvchenko, Volodya Stepanenko
Directed by: Renny Bartlett
Release date: 2004-01-01
12.

Ghosts of Rwanda

3.3
8.7/10

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.

Starring: Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, Willy Claes, Roméo Dallaire
Directed by: Greg Barker
Release date: 2004-04-01
13.

The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance

3.2
8.1/10
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
14.

So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton & MGM

3.2
7.4/10
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
15.

Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death

3.1
7.8/10
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
16.

Thérèse: The Story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

2.7
6.5/10

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
17.

Proteus: A Nineteenth Century Vision

2.6
8.0/10
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
18.

Ben Franklin

1.8
7.9/10
Ben Franklin
The History Channel biography on the life and achievements of one of this nation's founding fathers.
Release date: 2004-12-05
19.

Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire

1.7
7.6/10
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
20.

Frank Hurley: The Man Who Made History

1.6
7.0/10
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

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