Wednesday, May 22, 2013


With momentum and confidence on his side, Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Virginia through the Shenandoah Valley in what he believed would be a final death blow to the North. Meeting General Meade's Army in a small Pennsylvania township on a sweltering July day in 1863, they began a bloody three day battle where an ill-fated charge and a heroic, textbook military maneuver led by a Maine schoolteacher would turn the tide of the war and the country forever. Based on Michael Shaara's novel The Killer Angels, Gettysburg is a reverent, meticulous, four and a half hour recreation of the red letter battle of The Civil War, that features some incredible battle scenes, most notably in Little Round Top and Pickett's Charge. The acting is mixed bag: Jeff Daniels as Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Tom Berenger as James Longstreet are particular standouts while others fall prey to histrionic grandstanding, or as in the case of Martin Sheen playing Lee, are woefully miscast. The film is also rife with pious, overblown speeches and goes way out of its way to offer a Southern rationalization. In the end, I appreciated the painstaking reenactment efforts, but felt they would have been better served in the reenactment battlefield and not for a feature length picture.