Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gettysburg Review.

Thoughts: Gettysburg, the historical epic that chronicles the battle of Gettysburg and the events leading up to one of America's bloodiest battles. Originally Gettysburg was set to be a TV miniseries until producer Ted Turner decided to have it release in theaters were it flopped despite some high critical ratings. In terms of historical accuracy, in both story and set/costume, Gettysburg is one of the best historical films. The shear scale of the battles is amazing, especially considering it was without use of CGI. The battle of Gettysburg at the end of the film is massive, using hundreds of reenactors to recreate the historic battle. However, the fact that it was originally a miniseries definitely shows, in its length (4 hours, 14 minutes, one of the longest films ever released by Hollywood ) and episodic narrative. It almost fells like episodes were it follows a particular character for nearly 40 minutes yet said character rarely reappears throughout the rest of the story. Also the film starts rather slowly and does drag in a few areas. Some may claim that Gettysburg is pro-Confederate, which is absolute absurdity! Even if the film was pro-Confederate why would a critic fault the film for being so? Neither side during the Civil War was necessarily wrong. The war was not fought because of slavery, many people living in the Union states owned slaves and did not expect Lincoln to free the slaves, which a common misconception.

Directed by: Ronald F. Maxwell
Genre: War,
Release Date: October 8, 1993
Running Time: 262 minutes
MMPA rating: PG

The Good: Epic battle scenes, Great performances, Historical accurate, Amazing production value and scale, Good soundtrack,

The Bad: Overly bloated,

Plot: The following plot summary is copied from
The film starts with spoken exposition over the image of a map that establishes the location of the battle and how the two armies converged at Gettysburg. Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia are making an offensive through Pennsylvania to lure the Union Army of the Potomac into a decisive battle that will end the war. The narration states that Confederate President Jefferson Davis has prepared a letter of peace to be delivered to the desk of Abraham Lincoln once the Army of the Potomac has been destroyed somewhere outside of Washington.
Early scenes depict actor-turned-spy Henry Thomas Harrison spotting Union cavalry. Shortly thereafter, Harrison locates a major body of Union infantry and, immediately, crosses the Confederate picket line in order to notify Lieutenant General James "Pete" Longstreet, the senior lieutenant general in the Confederate Army and second-in-command of the Army of Northern Virginia. Major General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry, the “eyes” of Lee’s army, has gone off on raids without keeping in touch with Lee’s army. Meanwhile, U.S. Brig. Gen. John Buford and his cavalry division arrive at Gettysburg. Buford surmizes that if Lee's army is allowed access to the town, the Confederates might easily take a strong defensive position that could destroy the Army of the Potomac. Buford decides to deploy his division along Seminary Ridge in order to obstruct any Confederate advance on Gettysburg from the west. The day ends with Buford writing a letter to Maj. Gen. John Reynolds, commanding officer of the nearby Union I Corps infantry, inquiring if he should hold his position.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.

Plot: 8.6/10- Although the pacing was slow in the first hour, the characters and historical accuracy more than makes up for that.

Action: 9.2/10- While there is not much action in the beginning of the film, there are two massive prolonged battle scenes, which are among the best realistic battles ever filmed. The amount of reenactors used is staggering. The camera work is great, lacking the now cliched and dredded "Shakey-Cam".

Acting: 8.0/10- Martin Sheen as Confederate General Robert E. Lee was stiff and did not fit the role well, especially in the beginning of the film. However, Tom Berenger as Lieutenant General James Longstreet gave the strongest performance of the cast

Special effects: N/A- It is difficult to determine if Gettysburg used what would be considered special effects, but the production design was phenomenal.

Soundtrack: 8.7/10- The soundtrack fit the classic epic and historical atmosphere perfectly.

Comedy: 5.0/10- Occasional humor in an overal serious film.

Overall: 8.3/10- Overall Gettysburg is a great war film with epic realistic battles and attendion to detail. It is a must see for any Civil War history buff like myself.

Closing comments: Despite the slow pacing, the film creates an excellent telling of true history of the Civil War. However, if you have a short attention span and do not like very, very long movies, you should probably avoid it.

Recommended for: War movie fans, Historical films fans,

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  1. Check out Game of Thrones. It is set in a medieval theme land (like Middle Earth) and no one is truly good as they all want to take the Iron Throne.

  2. I've always loved historical films, some how this one has fallen through the cracks. Sounds like a strong film/series that really delivers.

  3. Anonymous: It sounds great! Unfortunately I don't HBO, but I hope it will air on some cable channel.

    @Daniel: Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Just be ready for a really long movie, even longer than LOTR.


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  5. Great review! I need to watch this. :D


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