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The Aviator (2004)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  25 December 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 241,960 users   Metascore: 77/100
Reviews: 788 user | 266 critic | 41 from Metacritic.com

A biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes' career, from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s.



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Won 5 Oscars. Another 70 wins & 98 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:


The script begins as a young Hughes directs one of Scorsese's favorite films, Hell's Angels. Hughes was so obsessed with perfection in the aerial sequences that he waits forever for perfect conditions, right down to cloud formations. The Aviator ends in 1946, when Hughes was still a dashing young man and romancing actresses like Ava Gardner and Katharine Hepburn. Written by Ryan McIntosh <Save_Ferris85@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn the star who stole his heart. See more »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language and a crash sequence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »




Release Date:

25 December 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El aviador  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$110,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$858,021 (USA) (17 December 2004)


$102,608,827 (USA) (27 May 2005)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Freckles were painstakingly painted onto Cate Blanchett's face, arms, and chest to make her resemble Katharine Hepburn. See more »


The shots of Hughes flying the speed-test plane show him in an open cockpit, but the cockpit is clearly closed in the shots of the plane actually flying, then the cockpit is open again when Hughes lands in the beet field. See more »


[first lines]
Allene Hughes: Q-u-a-r-a-n-t-i-n-e.
Young Howard Hughes: Quarantine. Q-u-a-r-a-n-t-i-n-e. Quarantine.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are two different Panavision credits used: the "Filmed with Panavision Cameras and Lenses" credit, and after that, the "Filmed in Panavision" credit, despite being shot in Super 35. See more »


Featured in 11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2005) See more »


Yellow Dog Blues
Written by W.C. Handy
Performed by Vince Giordano and His Nighthawks Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

17 December 2004 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

This is an astonishingly beautiful and moving film. Martin Scorcese has created a seminal work -- one that brings the harrowing, big-studio, adult movie making of the 1970's and totally reinvents and reinvigorates it for today's audience.

The story traces the rise and demise of billionaire Howard Hughes as he struggles to find meaning and purpose in a life unfettered by concerns of money, talent or opportunity. Whether trying to get a plane off the ground or a young starlet into bed, Hughes attacks life with a fierce gusto -- plagued and prodded by obsessive compulsive germphobia that constantly threatens to consume and defeat him.

DiCaprio is amazing! It's the performance no one thought he was capable of. It is a dynamic, smart, funny, articulate, intense, mature and ultimately harrowing performance that relaunches his career as one of American's finest actors. At the end of the film, you just want to take him in your arms and sob. It's really that good.

Cate Blanchett is incredible as Katherine Hepburn. At first, I was a little thrown by how bravely she attacked the Hepburn trademark voice, but I was completely won over by the second line. It is a tender, funny, incredibly convincing star turn that supplies the heart for the first half of the film. The scene where she takes Howard home "for dinner" with the family is a classic! Kate Beckinsale does a surprisingly fine job with Eva Gardner -- conveying the slow burning passion of this Hollywood icon without ever lapsing into mere mimicry.

But, in the end, this isn't a love story -- it's a war story -- a war between Howard's unstoppable will and his fierce inner demons battling for Howard's soul. It is the major relationship in the movie and the true heart of the film -- one that fuels his eccentric genius and yet constantly threatens to rip his life apart. He tries to ignore it by sleeping with every beauty in town. He tries to outrun it, building faster and faster airplanes. Yet, it is his one constant companion from early childhood to his ultimate, inescapable end. And it is this relationship that leaves you devastated at the end of the film.


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