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Gettysburg: Director's Cut (Blu-ray)
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Gettysburg: Director’s Cut (Blu-ray)
Marking the 150th-anniversary commemoration of the Civil War, Ronald F. Maxwell’s acclaimed film now arrives in a Director’s Cut featuring 17 minutes of compelling additional footage. Filmed at actual battle locations and full of authentic details, this rousing and soulful movie plunges you into the heat of the bloodiest battle fought on American soil. History comes alive with intense and spirited battles as well as the dilemmas, motivations and fears of the leaders. Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen and Stephen Lang star in this magnificent epic based on Michael Shaara's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Killer Angels.]]>
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Richard Jordan plays Confederate general Lew Armistead, who was fatally wounded in the battle. The scene was Jordan's last appearance on the screen. He died within a year of a brain tumor at the age of 56.
The film shows Lee's reluctance to fight at Gettysburg at all, but once the battle starts, Lee goes all in, culminating in the doomed Pickett's Charge. Many of the scenes are very well done. The stand of Chamberlin's 20th Maine on Little Round Top, ending in a bayonet charge that finally routed the Confederates, is one of the best battle sequences ever filmed. When you see ranks of men blasting away at each other with .58-caliber muskets at a range of 20 or 30 yards, you cannot help but be impressed by the raw courage of the men on either side.
The filmmakers used hundreds, if not thousands, of Civil War re-enactors as extras, and this lends a certain verisimilitude to the movie; but in closeups, it is hard not to notice the number of men who are older and, shall we say, more well-upholstered then men in either army would have been in 1863. Other than that, the great attention given by re-enactors to their clothing and equipment is a big plus.
TNT made several good historical movies back then ("Ironclads," "Rough Riders") but "Gettysburg" was the only once that enjoyed wide release. It is a fitting tribute to "The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here" at Gettysburg 150 years ago.