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2021 MOVIE DRAFT- ROUND 4 PICK 10- HANSPOSTCARD selects as a Western/War category movie- Gettysburg.

I am selecting Gettysburg- not because I believe it is a truly great movie- it’s not I would give it 3 1/2 stars out of 4- but am choosing it as an influence not only on me but on thousands of others. The one -two punch of Ken Burn’s Civil War documentary which came out in the fall of 1990- and then three years later the movie Gettysburg spurred not only a lot of interest in the American Civil War- but seemed to open the gates to visitation to the battlefields of that war- and a lot of outstanding scholarship regarding the war.

Gettysburg was based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book from the mid-70’s- The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. The book was historical fiction. The movie Gettysburg again is based on the book- so there have been those who poke at what the book and movie got wrong about the battle. There are many important aspects of the Battle of Gettysburg not mentioned in the movie- but to be fair they weren’t mentioned in the book either. The point is- no one should read the book- it is a great book which turned many on to being Civil War nuts- and think of it as the definitive work on the battle- and no one should watch the movie and think it is either. The thing is the book/ movie turned countless people on to making trips to Gettysburg and studying the battle on their own. I had always had an interest in history and the war but the big one -two punch of Ken Burns Civil War and Gettysburg changed my life. I was nearly 30 when the Ken Burns series came out and had only been to Gettysburg once as a child- and one other battlefield- Antietam. In the thirty years since Ken Burns Civil War/ Gettysburg I have been to most of the major battlefields of the war and many of them numerous times. As far as Gettysburg- when my wife and I go this year it will be the 25th year in a row we have made at least one trip there. We have gone as many as nine times in one year- and there was only one year in which we went only once. I think our average is probably 5 times a year. I wish I knew the exact number of trips we’ve made but I’d estimate somewhere between 125-150. It’s a 5 hour drive its not like we live next door. It’s a great thing that Mrs. Postcard enjoys going as much as I do. The other day she mentioned- ‘When are we going to Gettysburg’– when the weather breaks no doubt.

I have wondered off the topic of the movie Gettysburg. The version to watch it the Director’s Cut- with the extra footage. The Director’s cut runs at 274 minutes- [the original clocked in at 254.} It is a long movie. Highlights are the performances -at the beginning of Sam Elliott as Union General John Buford- Buford played a big part in the actions on the first day of the battle. Tom Beringer stars as Confederate General James ‘Pete’ Longstreet- he gets a lot of screen time and is outstanding [if you overlook the bad fake beard]- Also getting a ton of screen time is Jeff Daniels as the hero of Little Round Top- Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. The most disappointing performance- and I don’t know how much you can blame him. Maybe you blame the people behind making the film- Marty Sheen playing Robert E. Lee- Sheen is an outstanding actor but they have him playing Lee as a distracted, ill, even kind of demented- the low point in the film. There is an outstanding overall cast-

A great job was done in the capturing Pickett’s Charge-at the end of the movie. The music soundtrack is also top notch. Again this is not a great movie- but it’s pretty good- and highly influential as I mentioned previously- kick starting renewed interest in the war. Nearly 30 years later something like this is needed again- attendance not only at Gettysburg but other battlefields have decreased in recent years. Of course things run in cycles.



  1. Haven’t seen it but I love the premise of your review, in that it’s not a great movie but it had a significant impact nonetheless. The reverse is doubtless true of many too – films that look great or are hilarious but say nothing and are forgotten in a few days.

    • After about the fifth viewing Longstreet’s beard started to look natural… plus he does a great acting job.. poor Marty Sheen though as Gen. Lee.. I don’t know who is to blame. Martin should have stuck to being an errand boy sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill…

  2. I reluctantly went to see this with a friend, and afterward was glad I did. It is indeed very long, but also an unforgettable dramatization of the battle. I’m not a student of the battle, so I didn’t notice historical imperfections. The movie makes the right impact, imo. Gettysburg is still on my travel wish list, and probably would not have been but for this movie.

    • a day like today here in ohio- nearing 60 degrees has me in got to get back to Gettysburg mood…I mean I haven’t been there since mid-October!! I think you’d like it- at least to us- there seems like a lot of things to do.

  3. It sounds like an epic type movie…that if they failed…they failed going for it as far as good actors. Sounds like they needed a little better direction or writers. This movie I wouldn’t mind trying on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

  4. Sounds like a good pick for people who like war movies. I did enjoy 1917 and We Shall Not Grow Old. I did watch the whole Ken Burns series on The Civil War which is more to my liking. I hope you get to see your beloved Gettysburg soon.

    • Just waiting for the weather to break I am thinking sometime in April….. those were great movies you mentioned…. and I see a re-watching of Ken Burns Civil War soon [ after I get done re-watching Ken Burns Baseball series.]

  5. OMG. I think I saw this when it came out…or, shortly afterwards. I remember Sheen as Lee and this was made during the time that Tom Berenger’s star was starting to peak and curve down. This was also Richard Jordan’s last film (Logan’s Run/The Hunt for Red October). It has Melissa Gilbert’s ex-hubby Bo Brinkman playing Maj. Walter Taylor, a character he played, again, in Gods and Generals a decade later (another movie I have also seen). And, in Gods and Generals, Bruce Boxleitner takes over Berenger’s Longstreet (Melissa Gilbert’s then husband) and Robert Duvall takes over Sheen’s Lee.

    Ken Burns shows up as Hancock’s aide.

    Good stuff!!!

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