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23. THE AVIATOR (2004)

The Aviator is a 2004 American biographical film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Ian Holm and Danny Houston.

The film is based on the non-fiction book Howard Hughes: The Secret Life by Charles Higham. The film depicts the life of Howard Hughes, an aviation pioneer and director of the film "Hell’s Angels". The highly stylised film portrays his life between the late 1920's and late 1940's, during which time Hughes became a successful film producer and an aviation magnate while simultaneously growing more unstable due to severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  • Directed by: Martin Scorsese
  • Produced by: Michael Mann, Sandy Climan, Graham King, Charles Evans, Jr. 
  • Written by: John Logan 
  • Based on: Howard Hughes: The Secret Life by Charles Higham 
  • Starring: Leonardo DiCpario, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin
  • Music by: Howard Shore
    The Aviator - Trailer - HQ

    The Aviator - Trailer - HQ

  • Cinematography: Robert Richardson
  • Edited by: Thelma Schoonmaker 
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Running time: 170 minutes
  • Budget: $110 million
  • Box Office: $214 million
  • Release date: December 17, 2004
  • Distributed by: Miramax Films, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Plot Edit

In Houston, 1913, nine-year-old Howard Hughes is being bathed by her mother (Amy Sloan), who warned him of the diseases she is afraid he will succumb to.

14 years later, we see a young Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) begining to direct the movie "Hell’s Angels". During the shooting, Hughes makes sure all the flight scenes are going to be filmed with the most realism possible (even setting the time schedure of filming due to stormy weather coming to film the planes flighing with clouds, to have a reference in space to see how fast the planes are moving). While the film shooting is taking place, Hughes is approached by Noah Dietrich (John C. Really), a business manager who wants to work for Hughes. Hughes hires him to be the administrator of his millionaire petrol oil business he has inherited from his family.

Hughes finally ends the shooting of Hell Angel's" however, after the release of "The Jazz Singer", the first partially talking film, Hughes becomes obsessed with shooting his film even more realistically, and decides to convert the movie to a sound film and reshooting the whole film again.

The film finally premieres at Hollywood. Hughes attends the movie premiere with the actress Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani) as her date. Harlow was the main star of the movie and Hughes is now romancing her. During the movie premiere, Hughes becomes overwhelmed because of the horde of people attending it, and begins to experiment some erratic behaviour due to his obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

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During a break of her filming, Howard Hughes approaches Katharine Hepburn and invites her to a date.

The film becames a hit, but Hughes remains unsatisfied with the end result and orders the film to be re-cut after its Hollywood premier.

He then approaches actress Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) at a film shooting of her upcoming film. They both become romantically involved after few dates.

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In one of their dates, Howard Hughes and Katharine Hupburn go golfing together

During their romance, Hepburn helps to ease the symptoms of Hughes' worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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Katharine Hepdurn and Howard Hughes leave a party in which Hughes was feeling nervous and uncomfortable due to her obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In 1935, Hughes test flies the H-1 Racer he build with his employees, pushing the plane to a new speed record. Three years later, breaks the world record by he flying around the world in four days.

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Hepburn is amazed by the flighing breaking-record of her boyfriend

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During their relationship, Hughes visits the Hepburn's state and meets Katharine's family, with whom he feels extremelly uncomfortable around.

He then purchases majority interest in Transcontinental & Western Air (the predecessor to Trans World Airlines) aggravating company rival, Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin), chairman of the board for Pan American World Airways (Pan Am). Trippe gets his friend, Senator Owen Brewster (Alan Alda), to introduce the Community Airline Bill, which would give Pan Am exclusivity on international air travel.

As Hughes’ fame grows, he is linked to various starlets, provoking Hepburn’s jealousy, later causing them to break up following her announcement to him that she has fallen in love with fellow actor Spencer Tracy (Kevin O'Rourke).

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Katharine Hepburn breaks up with Howard Hughes, who doesn't take well the break-up

Hughes then quickly finds a new love interest with 15-year-old Faith Domergue (Kelli Garner), and later actress Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). Meanwhile Hughes secures a contract with the Armed Air Forces for two projects: a spy aircraft and a troop transport unit.

In 1946, with the "Spruce Goose" flying boat still in construction, Hughes finishes the XF-11 reconnaissance aircraft and takes it for a test flight. With one of the engines malfunctioning mid-flight, he crashes the aircraft in Beverly Hills, getting severely injured. With the end of WWII, the army cancels their order for the H-4 Hercules, although Hughes still continues the development with his own money. When he is discharged, he is told that he has to choose between funding the airlines or his ‘flying boat’, in which he then orders Dietrich to mortgage the TWA assets so he can continue the development.

Hughes grows increasingly paranoid wth his OCD, planting microphones and tapping Gardner's phone lines to keep track of her. His home is searched by the FBI for incriminating evidence of war profiteering, provoking a powerful psychological trauma on Hughes, with the men searching his posessions and tracking dirt through through his house. Privately, Brewster offers to drop the charges if Hughes will sell TWA to Trippe, an offer he rejects. With Hughes in a deep depression, Trippe has Brewster summon him for a Senate investigation, as they’re confident that he’ll not show up. After being shut away for nearly three months, Gardner visits Hughes and personally grooms and dresses him in preparation for the hearing.

Hughes defends himself against Brewster's charges and accuses Trippe of bribing the senator. Hughes concludes by announcing that he has committed to completing the H-4 aircraft, and that he will leave the country if he cannot get it to fly. He successfully test flies H-4 aircraft, and after the flight, talks to Dietrich and his engineer, Glenn Odekirk, about a new jetliner for TWA. The sight of men in germ-resistant suits causes Hughes to have a mental breakdown. As Odekirk hides him in a restroom whilst Dietrich fetches a doctor, Hughes begins to have flashbacks of his childhood, his obsession for aviation, and his ambition for success, whilst repeating the phrase, "the way of the future".

Cast Edit

George clooney




- Leonardo DiCaprio - Howard Hughes


Matt damon







- Cate Blanchett - Katharine Hepburn


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- Kate Beckinsale - Ava Gardner


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- John C. Reilly - Noah Dietrich





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- Alec Baldwin - Juan Trippe


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- Alan Alda - Senator Ralph Owen Brewster




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- Ian Holm - Professor Fitz







- Danny Houston - Jack Frye





- Adam Scott - Johnny Meyer

- Gwen Stefani - Jean Harlow

Music Edit

The soundtrack for the film was composed by Alexander Desplat.

1. The Roosevelt Mission

2. Opening Titles

3. Ghent Altarpiece

4. Champagne

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5. Basic Training

6. Normandy

7. Deauville

8. Stokes

9. I See You, Stahl

10. John Wayne

11. Sniper

12. Into Bruges

13. The Letter

14. The Nero Decree

15. Stahl's

16. Jean-Claude Dies

17. Siegen Mine

18. Claire & Granger

19. Gold!

20. Heilbronn Mine

21. Castle Art Hoard

22. Altaussee

23. Finale

24. End Credits

25. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Nora Sagal

Production Edit

The Monuments Menis an American-German co-production ofColumbia Pictures(in association with20th Century Fox) andStudio Babelsberg.

The film was funded by the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) with €8.5 million, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung,Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburgas well as Medien- und FilmgesellschaftBaden-Württemberg. Casting was held in February 2013 for thousands of extras for the military scenes.

Principal photography began in early March 2013 at theBabelsberg StudiosinPotsdam, Germany, in theBerlin-Brandenburgregion and theHarz. The mines aroundBad Grund, particularly the Wiemannsbucht and the Grube Hilfe Gottes were used in the filming of outdoor scenes. Other outdoor locations were the towns ofLautenthal,Clausthal-Zellerfeld,Goslar,HalberstadtandOsterwieck. Some of the scenes, including flights and American war base footage, were filmed atImperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK.

Douglas C-47 Skytrain Dakota landing in front of film crew

Douglas C-47 Skytrain Dakota landing at Duxford Air Field during filming at Imperial War Museum Duxford, England.

Filming was scheduled to last until the end of June 2013, wrapping up inRye,East Sussex.

Release Edit

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The cast of "The Monuments Men" at the movie premiere in New York

On October 24, 2013, it was announced that the film would screen on February 7, 2014 at the64th Berlin International Film Festival.

The film was screened atUNESCOon 27 March 2014, on the occasion of the panel discussion "Modern Day Monuments Men and Women" on the preservation of heritage in times of conflict and the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property.

Reception Edit

The film received mixed reviews from critics.Rotten Tomatoesgives the film a 31% rating, with an average score of 5.2/10, based on 217 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Its intentions are noble and its cast is impressive, but neither can compensate forThe Monuments Men '​s stiffly nostalgic tone and curiously slack narrative." AtMetacritic, the film has a score of 52 out of 100, based on 43 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

Film criticPeter TraversinRolling Stone Magazinegave it 3 out of 4 stars, noting that while some of the dialog and emotions seemed inauthentic, the physical production and cinematography was "exquisite," with shooting done on locations in Germany and England. In comparing the film with current ones, he considers it a "proudly untrendy, uncynical movie," where the story involved people seeking something more valuable than money: "Clooney [as director] feels there's much to be learned from these unsung art warriors. . . . What Clooney has crafted inThe Monuments Menis a movie about aspiration, about culture at risk, about things worth fighting for. I'd call that timely and well worth a salute."

HistorianAlex von Tunzelmann, writing forThe Guardian, noted several historical faults and said of the plot, "If you're getting the sense that the film is episodic and poorly structured, unfortunately you'd be right", and "There are far too many characters, so the screenplay splits them up into little groups and sends them off on various errands. Some of these are more exciting than others – but they do not add up to a satisfying plot. A TV series might have been a better vehicle for the "monuments men" stories than a feature film... The story is fascinating, but this film's good intentions are hampered by its lack of pace, direction, tone and properly fleshed-out characters."

In its review, the Spanish tabloid newspaperLa Razóncited that the film took its inspiration from "Hollywoodwar propagandacinema", and that it shows the tendency of its director towards "historical revisionism".

Due to theSony Pictures Entertainment hack, it was revealed through several emails that director and star Clooney was upset and apologetic about the reviews the film received, and lost sleep over them.

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