Director: Ronald F. Maxwell
Writer: Ronald F. Maxwell
From novel: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
Keywords: Drama, Civil War
Review by anonymous (posted on 22-Oct-2006)
Dave Meloch's excellent review, supra, adequately sets forth the 'story-line' in his necessarily truncated precis of "Gettysburg's" scenario. About all that is left for a Johnny-come-lately reviewer to do is to echo and if possible amplify his praise for the film and perhaps add a minor cavil or two. Like Meloch, I would gladly give this film ***** if possible. A truly Herculean undertaking which emerges as one of the greatest war-and-more films I have even been privileged to see. As the old Hollywood movie epic billings used to say: "Years in the making! A cast of thousands! Spectacular! A truly Terrific movie!" And that is all literally true of "Gettysburg" with the possible exception of the numbers of cast even with all those re-enactors involved. "Terrific" this flick is in both senses of the word. It is perhaps a mercy that Sam Peckinpaw or Roman Polanski did not make it. The literal depiction of all the blood and goriness of close combat would have been too much to stomach even for the modern film-o-phile, who, one may suppose, is by now pretty well inured to graphic presentations of the consequences of violent conflict. Such scenes as the spectacle of a huddle of Confederates who almost attained the Union-held stone wall at "The Angle" at the high-watermark of Pickett's Charge being blown to smithereens by canister shot at the very mouth of a Union cannon is shock enough to drive home the disaster that befell the Confederate cause on that day. The cast, including the re-enactors, is beyond praise. Jeff Daniels as Joshua Chamberlin, the Maine professor/soldier, hero of the fight at Little Round-top is superb and equally so is Tom Beringer (almost unrecognizable as having also played the scar-faced villain of "Platoon")taking the role of Confederate Lt. General James Longstreet. Also superbly authentic seeming are the veteran actor Sam Elliott as the cavalry commander Buford and Kevin Conway as the philosophical but fiery Irish Sgt. 'Buster' Killian. I could go on and on. Two actors seem to me to have been marginally miscast both of them playing Confederate generals. They are Martin Sheen as "Marse" Robt. E. Lee and Richard Jordan as Armistead. Sheen, the biggest star name on the cast roster, appeared to be somewhatlacking in the courtliness that distinguished Lee. The dialogue is there but the delivery smacks more of Sheen's own personality than is pehaps enitrely authentic to the character. Jordan seemed to me to ring not entirely true either. On the other hand Stephen Lang was an excellent Gen. George E. Pickett, conveying in every move and utterance the fiery Southern reckless gentleman/soldier that Pickett indisputably was in a bravura performance. Great credit is due the director, writers and crew in all respects. Not to be overlooked is the DVD's Specials track titled The Making of Gettysburg which features a fine and thoughtful narration with snippets of the film onscreen. Oustanding contributions by the noted historian and author Shelby Foote and the filmmaker Ken Burns, who not only comments knowledgeably but had a bit part in the film itself, round out and illuminate the story. More than a war movie, or history, "Gettysburn" contains snippets about freedom, self-determination, slavery and racism as might be expected, but also has pithy sum-ups of the uses and causes of war in man's nature and sidebars on things as diverse as evolution, the military mind and whether man has a naturally benevolent nature or not. Even Deism is touched on lightly. A tally of American Military Deaths in the so-called Civil War (or War Between the States), WWI, WWII, The Korean and Vietnamese conflicts ends the film's Specials Section. That tally is something to ponder indeed, and made this reviewer feel both pround and sad to be an American. "Gettysburg" is for sure a sure enough don't-miss film.
Review by Dave Meloche (posted on 14-Apr-2005)
The Civil War Battle which nearly wasn't...
Some Confederate Solders were looking for shoes in the little town of Gettysburg, and were spotted by Union troops, and their presence was reported back to their Officers, which took steps to solidify their positions.
No one can do the movie justice by merely reviewing it. This is one huge movie with a huge cast, thanks to the civil war re-inactors from both sides. The movie is shot in the same location where the real fighting took place, from Little Round top to the fields surrounding the town of Gettysburg. The location is real.
Superb performances are given by Martin Sheen who portrays Gen Lee, and the actors that played Col. Chamberlin, George Pickett, James Longstreet, General Hood, and many, many other roles filled by dedicated actors. The scope and view of the battles which comprised the fighting for three days is a sight to behold. Thank your God that you weren't in the Civil War at any of the battles which took place at that time in our History.
There are dozens of books out about the Battles of Gettysburg, and all are worth reading. The movie should be on your "Do not miss" list.
This movie is the sequal to "Of Gods and Generals." There is one more movie scheduled to be filmed as what happened after Gettysburg to the end of the Civil War. Anyone remotely interested in the Civil War is missing a bet if they don't see it. If I could give the film 5 stars, I would. It's that good.
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