Best History Movies of 2009
Prayers for Bobby
Bobby Griffith was his mother's favorite son, the perfect all-American boy growing up under deeply religious influences in Walnut Creek, California. Bobby was also gay. Struggling with a conflict no one knew of, much less understood, Bobby finally came out to his family.
The Young Victoria
As the only legitimate heir of England's King William, teenage Victoria gets caught up in the political machinations of her own family. Victoria's mother wants her to sign a regency order, while her Belgian uncle schemes to arrange a marriage between the future monarch and Prince Albert, the man who will become the love of her life.
Based on the life stories of the eccentric aunt and first cousin of Jackie Onassis raised as Park Avenue débutantes but who withdrew from New York society, taking shelter at their Long Island summer home, "Grey Gardens." As their wealth and contact with the outside world dwindled, so did their grasp on reality.
Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant who has returned home from Iraq, is assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Montgomery is partnered with Captain Tony Stone, to give notice to the families of fallen soldiers. The Sergeant is drawn to Olivia Pitterson, to whom he has delivered news of her husband’s death.
"Notorious" is the story of Christopher Wallace. Through raw talent and sheer determination, Wallace transforms himself from Brooklyn street hustler (once selling crack to pregnant women) to one of the greatest rappers of all time: The Notorious B.I.G. Follow his meteoric rise to fame and his refusal to succumb to expectations - redefining our notion of "The American Dream."
Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger's charm and audacity endear him to much of America's downtrodden public, but he's also a thorn in the side of J. Edgar Hoover and the fledgling FBI. Desperate to capture the elusive outlaw, Hoover makes Dillinger his first Public Enemy Number One and assigns his top agent, Melvin Purvis, the task of bringing him in dead or alive.
Newly elected President Nelson Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's rugby team as they make their historic run to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match.
A psychological, heart-wrenching love story that provides a unique and inside look at Charles Darwin. Torn between faith and science, he struggles to finish his legendary book "On the Origin of the Species," which goes on to become the foundation for evolutionary biology.
A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria and her relationship with her slave Davus, who is torn between his love for her and the possibility of gaining his freedom by joining the rising tide of Christianity.
The Diary of Anne Frank
BBC miniseries adaptation. During World War II, a teenage Jewish girl named Anne Frank and her family are forced into hiding in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands.
The Diary of Anne Frank
During World War II, a teenage Jewish girl named Anne Frank and her family are forced into hiding in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands.
Kingdom of Hungary, 17th century. As she gets older, powerful Countess Erzsébet Báthory (1560-1614), blinded by the passion that she feels for a younger man, succumbs to the mad delusion that blood will keep her young and beautiful forever.
A true-story account of a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese during the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38.
What Darwin Never Knew
Earth teems with a staggering variety of animals, including 9,000 kinds of birds, 28,000 types of fish, and more than 350,000 species of beetles. What explains this explosion of living creatures—1.4 million different species discovered so far, with perhaps another 50 million to go? The source of life's endless forms was a profound mystery until Charles Darwin brought forth his revolutionary idea of natural selection. But Darwin's radical insights raised as many questions as they answered. What actually drives evolution and turns one species into another? To what degree do different animals rely on the same genetic toolkit? And how did we evolve?
Into the Storm
This powerful follow-up to “The Gathering Storm” follows Churchill from 1940 to 1945 as he guided his beleaguered nation through the crucible of the war years--even as his marriage was encountering its own struggles.
The Purple Sea
Nothing - not her father, not the church - can stop unruly Angela from being with her childhood best friend turned great love, Sara. Based on a true story, Viola di Mare, presents a uniquely engaging portrait of family, community and gender roles in a 19th century Italian village.
A mysterious tale set around a traditional British family on the eve of World War Two. Oblivious to the looming shadow of World War II, the wealthy Keyes maintain a confident façade in the British countryside until daughter Anne becomes an unexpected pawn. Her accidental discovery of secret recordings creates a rift in the family.
The Ascent of Money
British historian and author Niall Ferguson explains how big money works today as well as the causes of and solutions to economic catastrophes in this extended version The Ascent of Money documentary. Through interviews with top experts, such as former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and American currency speculator George Soros, the intricate world of finance, including global commerce, banking and lending, is examined thoroughly.
Landslide: A Portrait of President Herbert Hoover
Documentary about personal life of Herbert Hoover's and his governmental career, profiles the former head of state's political philosophy, memorable election campaigns, Great Depression policies and more. Through interviews with scholars such as David Kennedy, Robert Reich and Tim Egan, this biography sheds new light on the underappreciated president's difficult tenure and enduring legacy.
The Age of Stupid
The Age of Stupid is the new movie from Director Franny Armstrong (McLibel) and producer John Battsek (One Day In September). Pete Postlethwaite stars as a man living alone in the devastated future world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?
The Most Secret Place on Earth
After 30 years of conspiracy theories and myth making, this film uncovers the story of the CIA's most extensive clandestine operation in the history of modern warfare: The Secret War in Laos, which was conducted alongside the Vietnam War from 1964 -1973. While the world's attention was caught by the conflict in Vietnam, the CIA built the busiest military airport in the world in neighboring and neutral Laos and recruited humanitarian aid personnel, Special Forces agents and civilian pilots to undertake what would become the most effective operation of counterinsurgency warfare. As the conflict in Vietnam grew, the objective in Laos changed from a cost effective low-key involvement to save the country from becoming communist into an all-out air war to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail and bomb Laos back into the Stone Age that it had never really left in the first place. Conventional bombs equivalent to the destructive power of 20 Hiroshima-type weapons fell on Laos each year - 2 million tons
Against a backdrop of global catastrophe, the 6-hour paleontology-based documentary miniseries "Animal Armageddon" brings to life an unprecedented vision of ancient Earth. From the very beginning, the course of evolution has been dramatically altered by catastrophe. Numerous mass extinction events have devastated the Animal Kingdom. Each time disaster has struck, nature has shown remarkable resiliency. Animals have rebounded with with amazing biological innovation and vast increases in diversity. Humans have always had a stake in this. From tiny flatworms to the first amphibians, our own DNA had to survive for us to evolve into what we are now: the first species that can trigger its own extinction.
Victor Fleming: Master Craftsman
A documentary on the life and career of Victor Fleming, director of such iconic movies as The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind.
It Felt Like a Kiss
The story of America's rise to power starting with 1959, using archival footage and US pop music to highlight the consequences to the rest of the world and in the peoples' minds.
Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, a volunteer military escort accompanies the body of Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps to his hometown in Wyoming.
Jerusalem: Center of the World
Jerusalem: Center of the World tells the epic story of the world s most incredible city, capturing the rich mosaic of the city s Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities. Covering a sweeping history of over 4,000 years, the film explores the founding of the city; the birth and convergence of the world s three major monotheistic religions; and the key events in Jerusalem s history as described in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, the Talmud, the Hagaddah, the Koran, and the Hadith. Highlights include: Mount Moriah, the site of the First and Second Temples; the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; the Dome of the Rock; and the Western Wall. Directed by Andrew Goldberg, and hosted by Ray Suarez (The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer), the film includes interviews with locals, top scholars and clergy.
The People Speak
A look at America's struggles with war, class, race and women's rights. based on Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States."
Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
The story of Hannah Senesh, a Hungarian poet who was captured by the Nazis, while trying to rescue Jews in WWII.
Van Diemen's Land
The true story of Australia’s most notorious convict, Alexander Pearce and his infamous journey into the beautiful yet brutal Tasmanian wilderness. A point of no return for convicts banished from their homeland, Van Diemen’s Land was a feared and dreaded penal settlement at the end of the earth.
The year is 1732. John Wesley, an irritatingly self-righteous instructor at Oxford is offered the chance to go to the new colony of Georgia, where he hopes to preach to the Indians. John struggles with his failure and fears and is finally experiences the peace he longed for: "I felt my heart strangely warmed." Wesley begins to preach about his experience of saving faith, but is turned out of most churches in London. Despite opposition, mob violence that seeks to break up their meetings, Wesley and his "Methodies" establish social ministries to the poor that transformed the face of England. Today, almost 75 million people worldwide trace their spiritual heritage back to John Wesley.
A documentary about Vittorio de Sica with clips of his films and testimonials from friends and family.
Journey to Mecca
The 20 year old Muslim religious law student Ibn Battuta (1304–1368), whose full name was Abu Abdullah Muhammed Ibn Abdullah Al Lawati Al Tanji Ibn Battuta, set out from Tangier, a city in northern Morocco, in 1325, on a pilgrimage to Mecca, some 3,000 miles (over 4,800 km) to the East. The journey took him 18 months to complete and along the way he met with misfortune and adversity, including attack by bandits, rescue by Bedouins, fierce sand storms and dehydration.
War Dogs of the Pacific
It’s 1942, somewhere in the Pacific: Deadly ambushes by entrenched Japanese in the thick jungles take a heavy toll on American troops. Marine commanders were willing to try anything, including using dogs to sniff out the hidden enemy. But even with their superior senses, nobody anticipated just how effective they would be.
How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin
In August 1962, director Leslie Woodhead made a two-minute film in Liverpool's Cavern Club with a raw and unrecorded group of rockers called the Beatles. He arranged their first live TV appearances on a local show in Manchester and watched as the Fab Four phenomenon swept the world. Twenty-five years later while making films in Russia, Woodhead became aware of how, even though they were never able to play in the Soviet Union, the Beatles' legend had soaked into the lives of a generation of kids. This film meets the Soviet Beatles generation and hears their stories about how the Fab Four changed their lives, including Putin's deputy premier Sergei Ivanov, who explains how the Beatles helped him learn English and showed him another life. (Storyville)
The Spirit of '76
When 12 year old twins Madison & Reagan Church wanted to know why they couldn't find bank bailouts, takeovers of car companies and universal health care in the Constitution they were "studying" in school, they asked their dad where to find it. The result is an exciting journey through the Founding era to discover the truth behind our governments founding document and the men who proposed and opposed it.
Titanic: How It Really Sank
The sinking of the Titanic was far more than a simple accident. It was a tragedy that could have been prevented. It was the result of a long chain of mistakes: a fatal series of avoidable human errors that sent the Titanic and more than half of her passengers to their watery graves. Based around the official inquiry held immediately after the event, plus evidence that's come to light since the wreck of the Titanic was discovered in 1985, National Geographic, in this drama-documentary special, answers the question: Who Sank the Titanic?
Running the streets of Rome in 1960, an unknown, barefooted Ethiopian man stunned the world by winning Olympic gold in the marathon. Overnight, Abebe Bikila became a sports legend. A hero in his own country and to the continent, Bikila was the first African to win a gold medal, and four years later in Tokyo would become the first person in history to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the marathon.
Caligula's Spawn - Part 1
The beautiful and dangerous lesbian slave trader Druscilla practices all the customs of Ancient Rome - everything in Excess. But even excess can have its limits and the punishments can be very severe if she crosses the line and risks falling out of favor.
Documentary about Nostradamus's quatrains.
Darwin's Darkest Hour
In 1858 Charles Darwin struggles to publish one of the most controversial scientific theories ever conceived, while he and his wife Emma confront family tragedy.
Brothers at War
BROTHERS AT WAR is an intimate portrait of an American family during a turbulent time. Jake Rademacher sets out to understand the experience, sacrifice, and motivation of his two brothers serving in Iraq. The film follows Jake’s exploits as he risks everything—including his life—to tell his brothers’ story.
The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith
The Book of Ruth, is a triumphant love story in the face of adversity. This selfless journey of love and devotion is seen through the eyes of a young widow. Choosing to leave her homeland of Moab, she follows her mother-in-law Naomi to Israel after the death of her husband. Upon reaching Bethlehem, she meets and marries a man named Boaz, who is of the Royal House of Judah. This chain of seemingly unrelated events, sets the stage for the future kings of the nation of Israel, and the glorious coming of the Messiah. A Biblical Cinderella story from the archives of the royal Jewish bloodline, this story reveals the redemption of their inheritance through the child Obed, who was the grandfather of King David.
The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce
Eight men escape from the most isolated prison on earth. Only one man survives and the story he recounts shocks the British establishment to the core. This story is the last confession of Alexander Pearce.
La Isla: Archives of a Tragedy
In July 2005 a huge explosion in the Guatemalan Capital leads to the discovery of the historic archive of the National Police. On the grounds of the today's Police Academy used to be located the island, the secret prison of notorious National Police squads.And here millions of documents appeared. Aided by an extraordinary visual end emotional interaction, the film traces the story of a tragedy and finds prove for inconceivable atrocities committed by the Security Forces. It is also a movie about a young generation of archive workers willing to free their society from the stranglehold of its own history.
The Lost JFK Tapes: The Assassination
President John F. Kennedy's 1963 assassination in Dallas has sparked decades of questions and controversy. The "lost" JFK recordings made available for this documentary -- including local TV and radio reports -- shed new light on the tragedy. The rarely seen material has been organized to capture the drama as it unfolded, including the shocked reactions of Dallas citizens, many of whom were caught up directly in the sweep of events.
The Pagan Queen
A controversial film about the end of the old pagan world in central Europe, THE PAGAN QUEEN is based on the Czech legend of Libuse, the Slavic queen of 8th century Bohemia. Gifted with supernatural powers, a visionary and a seer, this extraordinary woman was able to see the future and in a turbulent time of cultural change founded the modern city of Prague. Libuse ruled as a woman over the tribes of the region with her two beautiful sisters Kazi and Teta and an army of women under the command of her best friend, the Amazon Vlasta. When the peaceful community of farmers is under attack by raiders and split into different parties of power hungry landowners, Libuse is forced into marriage by her own people.
Breaking the Mould
A historical drama that tells the story of the development of penicillin in the 1930's/40's, by a group of scientists in Oxford at The Dunn School of Pathology
The Hessen Affair
In 1945 a group of victorious American officers discover a stash of German jewels and try to fence them in New York.
In 1968 Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys met a dynamic and passionate singer/songwriter and introduced him to Hollywood. The two set out to record that artist's first professional album. The album became known as LIE. In 1969 this artist achieved incredible fame, but not for his music. The artist's name was Charles Manson.
Journey to 10,000 BC
10,000 B.C. was a time of cataclysmic change on Earth. Extreme climactic fluctuations hurled the planet into a minor ice age; megafauna like the saber-toothed tiger and woolly mammoth were suddenly becoming extinct; and early humans began to inhabit North America. Cold and hungry, their fragile communities undertook perilous hunting expeditions. The slaughter of a single mammoth, weighing nearly ten tons, could be the difference between survival and death. Journey to 10,000 BC. brings this unique and thrilling period to life, and investigates the geologic and climate changes that scientists are just beginning to understand. In a major forensic investigation, History visits early human archaeological sites to uncover fossilized bones, ancient dwellings, and stone weapons, and uses state-of-the-art CGI to recreate the treacherous mammoth hunts and the devastating impact of a comet colliding with Earth.