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.