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The Aviator (2004)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 25 December 2004 (USA)
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A biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes' career from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s.



1,079 ( 202)
Won 5 Oscars. Another 74 wins & 115 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:


Biopic of billionaire Howard Hughes, starting with his early filmmaking years as owner of RKO studios but mostly focusing on his role in designing and promoting new aircraft. Hughes was a risk-taker spending several fortunes on designing experimental aircraft and eventually founding TWA as a rival to Pan AM airlines owned by his great rival Juan Trippe. When Trippe's politico Senator Ralph Owen Brewster accuses Hughes of being a war profiteer, it's Hughes who gains the upper hand. Hughes also had many women in his life including a long relationship with actress Katharine Hepburn. From an early age however, Hughes was also germophobic and would have severe bouts of mental illness. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Imagine a life without limits. 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  »

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?


Howard Hughes' Los Angeles home in the film was actually the home he lived on Muirland Drive. See more »


Various people and events in Howard Hughes' life, and events in the lives of the real-life characters he interacts with have been altered or omitted to fit the dramatic narrative. 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 »


Referenced in Hollywood Mouth 3 (2017) See more »


I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Buddy G. DeSylva (as Buddy DeSylva)
Performed by Rufus Wainwright
Courtesy of DreamWorks Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Ambitious, Impeccably-Acted, DELIVERS
6 December 2004 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

Martin Scorsese's most recent ambitious project does not disappoint.

I just saw this film in a special preview for NYU film students, with Martin Scorsese there to discuss and answer questions after, and I must say, it was pretty phenomenal. It is Martin Scorsese's best work since Goodfellas (this is obvious) and most probably his best work since Raging Bull. DiCaprio's character study of Howard Hughes, and his devotion to this role, is exquisite and reminiscent even of Robert De Niro's in Raging Bull. The film is lengthy, but this compliments it, for the story is riveting and the production is practically flawless (even the combination of computerized processes and more traditional photography was smooth and effective).

The presentation of the film, in an evolving color (from two-tone Technicolor, as Martin explained it to us, to three-tone, to modern by the later sequences) is absolutely stunning, and the cinematography by renowned Robert Richardson, ASC, is some of the best I've seen (and, in my opinion, deserving of an Oscar).

Cate Blanchett was impeccable as Katharine Hepburn, though, at times, I felt that the complexity of her character was never really deeper than a surface analysis.

She did her role flawlessly, but this is not to say that it really Alec Baldwin portrayed one of the flattest villains I've seen in a major motion picture, but, again, this is about Howard Hughes, and DiCaprio's performance is worthy of an Oscar nod at least, and perhaps an Oscar Win (certainly the best performance I've seen all year).

One of my few complaints, though, is the lengthy sequences featuring Howard Hughes as a solo aviator. Though interesting, entertaining even, the film was long enough already, and did not require such an exhaustive analysis of individual flight procedures.

Also, it seems that some of the themes were almost too redundant, such as the ways in which Hughes' psychological problems were performed. Much of the Hollywood history is good, even interesting, but it also sometimes seemed a bit self-indulgent, to the point where you questioned the necessity of ALL of those nightclub sequences in the film.

But, besides those relatively few complaints, it is a spectacular film.

In all: do not miss it.


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