on April 14, 2000
If you are looking for a feel good movie,well,this isn't it.This film shows the horrors and despair of one of the most infamous POW camps in the Civil War,Andersonville. Once again Ted Turner has the insight to bring the personalities of the soldiers into play. This is the same formula that made "Gettysburg" such a great film. If you want "light & breezy" don't watch this film. If you don't mind a hard dose of cruel reality that war brings,this flicks for you.
"Andersonville" is an intense drama about a Civil War prison camp for captured Union soldiers. The camp is a huge stockade, built for 20,000 prisoners of war, but is filled to overcrowding with over 35,000 Union POW's, and more arriving daily. The conditions are horrible beyond words, virtually no food, no sanitation, clothing in rags and tatters, no shelter from the rain, gangs rampaging through the camp, rampant disease, a hundred men dying a day - a literal hell on earth. Puported to be historical fact, the story centers on a brigade from Massachusetts and their struggle to survive, and what a horrendous struggle it is. Other reviewers have stated that the story is not entirely truthful. Due to the shortage of critical supplies in the south, I do not doubt that the deporable conditions existed exactly as depicted in the movie. I cannot comment on other issues as I have not read the book that the movie is based on. Truthful or not, the film is absolutely riveting! You will be shocked by the condition of the men, the violence in the camp, the slow agony of starvation, and the inevitable deline in the men, both physically and spiritually.
The film has no well-known "star" actors, but even so, the various actors perform marvelously. Their characterizations are as real as if they were really in the camp and suffering unto death.
This film was an eye-opener for me, for I never considered the fate of Civil War POW's. I will remember the conditions the men lived and died in for the rest of my life. I recommend it without reservation.
on July 16, 2004
After watching most movies, you absorb it and a day later it is more or less forgotten. NOT ANDERSONVILLE! This movie stuck with me for a solid week after viewing. Very similar to the way I felt after watching Schindlers List......
However, I think this movie should be viewed as a look into what all of the Civil War camps were like. The Union obviously had prison war camps also. Such as Fort Jefferson, Fort Delaware & Camp Chase to name a few. Many of the conditions in these camps were just as bad.......
However, Andersonville was the worst of the worst of all prison camps North & South. And this movie depicts the conditions extremely well....
My only gripe with this movie is the portrayal of Captain Wirtz. It was really over the top....
on July 20, 2003
The Civil War has a lot of different meanings to a lot of people. Many of us know of the great battles such as Gettysburg and Antietam, but few remember the horrors of the Civil War prison camps. Andersonville brings that reality to life. More than 12,000 Union soldiers died at Andersonville in the short time it was open. Most died from disease and the lack of food or the unsanitary conditions they were forced to live with. Many were even killed by some of their own. This movie is straight forward and direct. There are no great battles depicted, no great charges or heroes leading an attack. There is only the brutal reality of life in a Civil War prison. The movie takes you inside the walls and almost makes you one of the inmates as you get caught up in the harsh conditions and the inhumanity. The Civil War was a great time in our history but it was also a terrible one too. Andersonville is definately a Civil War reality check. For anyone with an interest in the Civil War and who wants to know the good along with the bad, then this movie is a worthwhile purchase.
on July 17, 2002
It appears that the producer/s of this particular film used quite a few unreliable sources in the production of this film. Capt. Henry Wirz is portrayed as the original nazi (he was a swiss immigrant), a shallow, sadistic man who had absolutely no concern about the wellfare of prisoners in his charge. The fact is that the horrendous conditions at Andersonville (Camp Sumter) were the product of southern war shortages, not the product of a psychopath. Moreover, the battle royal between the raiders and the regulators depicted in the film never happened. In reality, Sgt. Key's (Limber Jim) regulators arrested the raiders with the help of the confederate guards and the courts-martial occurred at the insistance of Wirz, not the prisoners. Finally, only 11 men are known to have been shot on the deadline. However, in the film, confederate guards are portrayed as indiscriminately shooting a prisoner for fun, implying that such shootings were common. All this might make for excellent film drama but, it is extremely poor history. So, what is good about this film? The movie does depict the stockade and the terrible living conditions within quite accurately. But if you want to learn what really happened at Andersonville, I suggest you invest your time in reading William Marvel's book Andersonville: The Last Depot.
on August 3, 2011
This movie is perhaps the best account ever made on what prison life was like for more than the 40,000 Yankee enlisted soldiers who were imprisoned at Andersonville Prison in southwest Georgia from 1864 to 1865, 13,000 of which died in captivity from starvation, brutal treatment, disease, and even savage beatings inflicted by the criminal minds of their own side that had been thrown into the draft.
Up until then, Yankees and Confederates mostly just had temporary camps to hold prisoners for as little as a few weeks before they would be exchanged. But by the spring of 1864, newly-promoted General-in-Chief Grant decided to stop exchanges for good, therefore holding tens of thousands of prisoners in camps on both sides. The Yankee prisoners would starve because the Confederate nation of almost a dozen Southern states, threatened on all sides by marauding Yankee armies, didn't have enough food and supplies to feed their own civilian population and armies, much less tens of thousands of Yankee prisoners. This I can truly understand. If any food was to be available, it would preferably go off to their own families and soldiers, and the POW's would get whatever was left, which wasn't very much.
This movie follows the story of what appears to be about a company of Massachusetts troops who were captured during a skirmish with the other side on June 1, 1864 near Cold Harbor, Virginia, right before the slaughter of almost 7,000 Yankees was to happen on that ground within the next few days. You see the officers being separated from the enlisted men, and the officers were to be taken to Libby Prison in Richmond, the infamous camp for all Yankee officers in captivity. Upon their arrival at Andersonville, the men meet Captain Wirz, the Swiss-born Confederate commander of the prison who almost lost his arm at the 1862 battle of Fair Oaks. Wirz would end up being the only Confederate soldier executed for "war crimes" a few months after the war finally ended. He gives brutal treatment to the Yankees that attempt to escape from prison, many of which on record happened to do successfully, and this treatment brings much protest from a visiting Confederate colonel from the War Department. In the prison, a fellow soldier from their regiment that had been presumed dead since Antietam gives the arrivals great advice: Don't drink the diseased water from the spring, stay away from the Yankee Raiders that manage to rob the new arrivals of anything they have, and collect rainwater by wringing out their clothes during a downpour. Soon, the brutal treatment by the Raiders brings the whole camp into an uproar, and as the Confederate guards watch with fascination, the entire camp gives the Raiders some much-needed justice, followed by a trial and execution.
The Yankees also adapt themselves to building escape tunnels under the camp, helped by a couple of former miners from Pennsylvania, and you find out what happens to the "tunnel traitor" Yankees who hope to give this information to the Confederate guards for as little as an extra piece of bread. The prison life looks very harsh and you see many of the prisoners die, but it was simply a way of life for survival for those that lived. This was an excellent movie!
on April 22, 2006
After looking at some of the reviews, I'll admit I'm a bit confused. I think this was made AFTER Gettysburg so any motivation of remorse couldn't have had much to do with "Andersonville"....
As a younger Civil War/War of Northern Aggression student, I read MacKinlay Kantor's book "Andersonville" and while there is much vile to see in this film, it does show why the written word is still the most powerful weapon in war. Kantor's descriptions in writing defy depiction by even the most skilled set-dresser. And nobody, I mean nobody, Federal or Confederate, officer or enlisted man, young or old can come out a situation such as Andersonville looking particularly well--and the post-liberation photographs show it, just as do the post-liberation photographs of Auschwitz, Dachau, and Bergen-Belsen. The German film of the 1950s "The Doctor of Stalingrad" which purported to show conditions in a German POW camp in the Soviet Union after World War II, and the great film "Hart's War" depict relative Shangri-La conditions...
For someone who knows little about the POW situation during this great American conflict, I would recommend the DVD "Andersonville" but NOT in isolation. It must be tempered with a rounded knowledge of conditions in Northern Camps--which DO appear on the History Channel regularly...and recognition that after prisoner exchange was discontinued, nothing short of genocide on a fairly grand scale could result.
I recall a television documentary about the trial of the Andersonville Commander, whic starred of all people William Shatner--back in the 1970s or so...which I was quite impressed with and should be resurrected. But for the present, films such as "Andersonville" are replete with underlying messages about the horrors of war, that humans make war and then complain about the conditions which are inevitable, and that despite our intelligence we have not found an alternative to it--yet. If this film inspires one intellect to put his or her head to the solution of this problem, then there will be no more Andersonvilles....This film shows how easily humans who are civilized (we think) can descend into the psychosocial dynamics of the crowd, the group, the herd, plundering and devaluing of human life to that of mere livestock.
on July 18, 2011
Throughout references and movies/TV shows pertaining to the Civil War, the name 'Andersonville' keeps cropping up, always with a negative connotation. There was good reason.
This portrayal of what happened inside Andersonville will raise your indignation and leave you thinking about other POW instances in our past and present. 'Andersonville' shows us a side of ourselves that we might not want to see or imagine; whether we would become a raider or one of their victims; whether we would stand by and let our own comrades in arms become victims of greed and violence or would we make a stand, possibly at the expense of our own life.
How so few could intimidate so many for so long is difficult to believe, but it does happen ... and it did.
Andersonville is a graphic portrayal of POW conditions during the Civil War [or as is said down here 'The War of Northern Aggression']. Ted Turner's people have done an excellent job in bringing to life a segment of war no one wants to see - the horrid conditions: lack of sanitation, housing, medical assistance, food and clothing. Man's inhumanity to man at its worst is vividly portrayed here primarily through the eyes of one Union soldier.
It is well worth watching and having in your DVD collection. I saw the airing on TNT a few years ago and when I saw it was available on DVD, I scooped it up. You should too.
on October 24, 2011
I watched this movie several years ago and it really stuck with me. So much in fact I have traveled to Andersonville, Ga. To see the site. The 13,500 graves of the union soldiers takes away your breath. I have also visited other Civil war battlefields to see the actual place that these events took place. You can almost hear the cries and the canon fire when you are in these places. I have also read up on the subject and I have found that the north had prisons just as bad as Andersonville. You have to remember that the Union Army had cut off all supplies to the south. Capt. Wirtz was only in command of the prison for a couple of months, and there was not much that he could do to change what the former commander had done. He was hanged and I feel he was a scapegoat. War is hell. I would suggest that you if you can take your children to see the many sites that these events took place at. It is a History Lesson you will never forget. And well worth the time and travel.
on November 28, 2011
I purchased Andersonville as a teaching tool for my 5-6 and 7-8 Enrichment classes that I was teaching at our homeschool co-op. I wanted the students to actually experience the atrocities that happened at Andersonville. Not only were my students moved by this film but I as well. It is a gripping movie that definitely brings home the point that this was a sad and brutal war. I have visited Andersonville many times, but now this movie has made it all the more important to remember the men, women, and children who died and sacrificed their livelihood. Many of my students were moved and told me how it really made them think about the Civil War and prison camps in general. If you want to know about the atrocities of prison camps in the 1800s, you need to purchase this movie.