2004
Orange Revolution in the Ukraine
: a series of protests and political events occur in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election which is claimed to be marred by electoral fraud

Kiev is the focal point of the movement’s campaign of civil resistance, with thousands of protesters demonstrating daily

Throughout the demonstrations, Ukraine’s emerging Internet usage is an integral part of the orange revolutionary process. It is one of the first examples of an Internet-organised mass protest.

The nationwide protests succeed when the results of the vote are annulled, and a revote is ordered. Under intense scrutiny by domestic and international observers, the second run-off is declared to be “fair and free”. The final results show a clear victory for opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, who receives about 52% of the vote, compared to president Viktor Yanukovych’s 44% who is supported by Russia

Yushchenko is declared the official winner and with his inauguration on 23 January 2005 in Kiev, the Orange Revolution ends.

In the following years, the Orange Revolution has a negative connotation among pro-government circles in Belarus and Russia.

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2004
In a ceremony at the Elysee palace, French President Jacques Chirac decorates Steven Spielberg with the insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, the country’s highest distinction for civilians.

“Our country loves cinema, all of cinema,” says Chirac before honoring Spielberg. “It is the essence of our fight for cultural diversity recognizing the equal dignity of all cultures.“ Chirac then evokes Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List (1993), which he describes as one of his personal favorites. "In this difficult period where intolerance, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and fanaticism are again manifesting themselves, it is essential for cinema to help us recall the horror of the unspeakable.”

In his response, Spielberg, who arrives from Deauville where he is attending the 30th annual American Film Festival, warns that hatred is a global threat more dangerous than either AIDS or cancer. “We live in a world right now which is not recognizable from what I experienced growing up in the 1950s and 1960s,” he tells Chirac. “I commend your efforts in what you are doing about anti-Semitism here in France. We have to work very, very hard to make people understand that it is the differences we have to celebrate and not condemn.” He concludes: “Sometimes the minorities have the most to contribute to a society.“

Spielberg also pays tribute to legendary French film director Francois Truffaut, who died 20 years ago and starred in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

Attending the ceremony are such film personalities as Gwyneth Paltrow, Sophie Marceau, Nathalie Baye, and Patrick Bruel.

The Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte and recognizes eminent service to the Republic of France.  

2004
Former US President Ronald Reagan dies.

Nancy Reagan releases a statement saying:

“My family and I would like the world to know that President Ronald Reagan has died after 10 years of Alzheimer’s disease at 93 years of age. We appreciate everyone’s prayers.“

About 4,000 people gather at the state funeral in the Washington National Cathedral, including US President George W. Bush, as well as former US presidents George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. 

Foreign dignitaries attend as well, coming from 165 nations, including U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and Prince Charles (representing Queen Elizabeth II). Other world leaders include UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Irish President Mary McAleese, former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Jordan’s King Abdullah, as well as interim presidents Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Ghazi al-Yawer of Iraq.

The funeral for Reagan is the largest in the United States since that of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

2004
DreamWorks Animation (DWA) is founded.

The studio is formed by the merger of the feature animation division of DreamWorks SKG and Pacific Data Images. Originally formed under the banner of DreamWorks in 1997 by some of Amblin Entertainment’s former animation branch Amblimation alumni, DreamWorks Animation is spun off into a separate public company.

Jeffrey Katzenberg heads the new division, while Steven Spielberg and David Geffen remain on board as investors and consultants.

DreamWorks Animation produces CGI animated films such as the Shrek franchise (2001-2010), Madagascar (2004), Kung-Fu Panda (2008), and How To Train Your Dragon (2010) to name just a few. 

DreamWorks Animation also creates original TV series, and shorts, interactive media, live entertainment, themed experiences, consumer products, publishing, and pioneering technology.

2003
Lost in Translation
, written and directed by Sofia Coppola – starring Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson – centers around an aging actor (Murray) and a college graduate  (Johansson). Both of them are lost in the Japanese culture and lost in their own lives and relationships. After a chance meeting in a Tokyo hotel (video clip), they spend some time together.

Coppola’s inspiring comedy-drama, set in the time of globalization, is co-produced by her father’s company American Zoetrope.

Sofia Coppola writes the screenplay with Bill Murray in mind, saying she would not have made it without him. Johansson is 17 years old when she is offered the part (immediately accepting), and Coppola is happy with the maturity she brings to the character.

Tokyo is the secret star of Lost in Translation, depicted in stunning images by cinematographer Lance Acord who (just like Coppola) has spent some time in Tokyo and draws from his everyday experiences. He tries to maximize available light during shooting and refrain from artificial lights as much as possible – especially when shooting night-time exteriors.

Sofia Coppola on her motivation to do the film: 

“Tokyo is so disorienting, and there’s a loneliness and isolation. Everything is so crazy, and the jet lag is torture. I liked the idea of juxtaposing a midlife crisis with that time in your early 20s when you’re, like, What should I do with my life?”

Overall, the film is largely shot in an improvised, “free-form” manner, which Coppola describes as “stealthy” and “almost documentary-style“. Principal photography is completed after just 27 days.

Lost in Translation receives widespread acclaim by critics and audiences. Against an independent film budget of only $4 million, Lost in Translation is hugely profitable, grossing $119.7 million worldwide. 

The film is nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Bill Murray, and Best Director for Sofia Coppola; Coppola wins for Best Original Screenplay. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson each win a BAFTA award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Leading Role respectively.

Bill Murray calls Lost in Translation his favorite film that he has worked on.

2003
Arnold Schwarzenegger
is elected as Governor of California and serves two terms from 2003 until 2011. Media dub him the “The Governator” (referring to his lead role in The Terminator franchise (1984-2015). 

After some of his first initiatives are defeated by opposition from powerful state unions, Schwarzenegger gradually moves towards a more politically moderate position. As governor, he vetoes two same-sex marriage bills, once in 2005 and again in 2007, but in 2008 Schwarzenegger supports the removal of Proposition 8, the legislation banning same-sex marriage in California.

2003
The Invasion of Iraq
– dubbed “Operation Iraqi Freedom” by the United States – starts a conflict that later evolves into the Iraq War. Following massive air strikes, coalition forces from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invade Iraq. Meeting little resistance, they capture the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and depose the Ba’athist government of Saddam Hussein.

According to U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the coalition mission is “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.”

The invasion is strongly opposed by some long-standing U.S. allies, including the governments of France, Germany, and New Zealand. Their leaders argue that there is no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that invading the country is not justified. A month before the invasion, there are worldwide anti-war protests, including a rally of three million people in Rome, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ever anti-war rally.

An estimated 7,500 Iraqi civilians are killed during the invasion, with approximately 30,000 Iraqi combatant fatalities and 196 killed combatants of coalition forces.

Iraq and the international reputation of US foreign policy are left in ruins.

2003
Steven Spielberg receives his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
. He unveils the honor before a crowd of 2,000 outside the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards telecast.

Among the celebrities attending the ceremony are his wife Kate Capshaw and daughter Jessica Capshaw, film composer and long-time John Williams, special make-up effects creator Stan Winston, and DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.

This is so surreal,” Spielberg says “Getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame really makes you feel like you are part of this community." 

He feels honored to receive the star on the Hollywood Boulevard sidewalk near those for the likes of inventor Thomas Edison, dog actor Lassie, actress Nicole Kidman, and actor Mike Myers.

2002
Doug Liman’s The Bourne Identity
is a fast-paced action spy thriller starring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a man suffering from extreme memory loss, trying to discover his true identity amidst a CIA conspiracy.

A co-production between Universal Pictures and Kennedy/Marshall Company, the film is based on Robert Ludlum’s novel, and adapted for the screen by Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron. The cast includes Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Julia Stiles, and Brian Cox.

Liman scraps much of the content of Ludlum’s novel, in order to modernize the material and to conform it to his own beliefs regarding United States foreign policy. Parts of the film’s conspiracy story are inspired by Liman’s father’s job in the National Security Agency (NSA) under Ronald Reagan. Liman’s father’s was involved in the investigation of the Iran-Contra affair.

For the lead part, Liman approaches a wide range of actors, including Brad Pitt, who turns it down, as well as Russell Crowe and Sylvester Stallone. Matt Damon, who has never played such a physically demanding role, insists on performing many of the stunts himself, including hand-to-hand combat and climbing the safe house walls near the film’s conclusion.

With his background as a small-scale indie filmmaker, Liman often operates the camera himself to create what he believes is a more intimate relationship between himself, the material, and the actors.

The Bourne Identity receives a positive critical and public reaction and succeeds at the box office, grossing $214 million worldwide, against a budget of $60 million. It is followed by The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), and The Bourne Legacy (2012).

Charles Taylor of Salon.com acclaims the film as “entertaining, handsome and gripping, The Bourne Identity is something of an anomaly among big-budget summer blockbusters: a thriller with some brains and feeling behind it, more attuned to story and character than to spectacle“.

Spielberg on the quick editing applied in contemporary action film franchises:

"My movies have never been frenetically cut, the way a lot of action is done today. That’s not a put-down; some of that quick cutting, like in ‘The Bourne Ultimatum,’ is fantastic, just takes my breath away.“