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The Gettysburg battle was the American latest Civil War and the largest battle fought in the North America. A war movie Gettysburg, released in 1993, was written by Ronald Maxwell. It was adapted from the skirmish book The Killer Angels that was written by Michael Shaara. The book closely depicts the real events at the Gettysburg battle and a few days that followed it. The novel talks of the battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War. Maxwell brought a precise re-creation of the Civil War in the film named Gettysburg. The movie chronicles the behavior of principle battle characters, and the three critical battle engagements. It showed the perspectives of the Union and the Confederate armies. Maxwell based the film on the real events that took place between 1st and 3rd of July 1863. The movie starts with skirmish and ends with Pickett’s Charge, and does not deviate from the battle at any point (McPherson & Ku%u0308nstler, 1993).
Many war films use battle as a backdrop to convince people. Gettysburg does not include those film clichés. Gettysburg was filmed at the Gettysburg war field. It is simple, pure and plain film about the war of Gettysburg in 1863 and it never gets old. It takes into account the mistakes, strategies, calculations and the heroism that decisively turned the war tide against the South. John Buford Union General fought the Confederates to prevent them from acquiring North Gettysburg (Sears, 2003).
The film is about four hours long. Every minute of it is committed to the preparation and planning of the war or is committed to the war. The movie has a notable credit for its opening where there were pictures they overlaid with actors and the people they portrayed, thus showing their similarity. There was no battle romance since the moviemakers did not include a woman in the cast. There was no drama, like in Hollywood, but many dialogues, revealing the thoughts in the mind of the leaders and general way of things in Pennsylvania during those three bad-fated days. Examination of tactics and thoughts of General Lee and Longstreet, the Confederates, and Lawrence, from the Union, are the three most focused characters. The movie is narrated from the Southern viewpoint, but on the first day, the North gets advantage with Sam Elliot, acting as General Buford; and the second day was successful with Chamberlain’s stand at Little Round Top (Tanaka & Craig, 2003).
On the first day, General Buford John, the Union cavalry brigadier, scouted the area surrounding Gettysburg if it applicable as the war ground. Buford knew that the Confederates were in the area in full force. Thus, he detected the looming of a big war. He also knew that if what happened in the past occurred again, the Confederates would have occupied the high land and the Union forces would have suffered additional frustration from the defeat. Buford selected his ground with wisdom. He then placed his cavalry brigade in positions that blocked the Confederates from going to the high ground. The Confederates were delayed by Buford’s brigade for long (McPherson & Ku%u0308nstlr, 1993).
On the second day, the fight on Little Round Top ended up with Colonel Chamberlain winning the fight on a wooded, stony hillock on the furthest southern side of the Union line. Their mission was to protect the place from Confederates and their attempts to make a way in the rear of Union army. It turned out what the Confederates were planning. Chamberlain was left along with 125 men to resist the repeated assaults from Law Division Alabama brigade. When his men ran out of ammunition, Chamberlain commended a counter charge. This routed the Confederates completely.
On the third day, there was Pickett’s Charge, where General Lee ordered to attack massively the Unions’ center after witnessing his men defeated along every Union line. He then chooses General George Pickett’s sector to head the charge. General Longstreet, the second commander in the hierarchy of the Unions after Lee, did not believe that the charge would work. He bluntly told Lee his opinion. James’ reasons did not move Lee. The charge had to take place. At the end of the war, over 5,000 men were standing along over a mile on the open field to attack the Union’s center. Here many artillery and troops were gathered (Tanaka & Craig, 2003).
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The movie’s individual characters are well developed effectively portraying the intimate conflict. The violence expected for a Civil War movie is presented as well and the characters are effective enough to outshine the actual war. The whole movie sets on the battle and not the plot. The people’s religious and political point of views takes the center stage. General Lee was shown as a religious man; and the viewer of this movie is charmed in the fearfulness by the heroism of people like Joshua Colonel Chamberlain Lawrence.
The acting in this movie is outstanding. Jeff Daniel portraying Chamberlain gave the best acting of any other movie in which he had appeared. His portrayal of the college professor who later became a soldier is deep and vivid in every sense of his intellectual ability and compassion. It was due to lack of training in military that on the second day he took command in his hand. This saved the Union line. Many did not believe that a true, trained officer would have been so daring (Sears, 2003).
Sheen Martin excellently portrayed Lee, a General with calm demeanor that betrayed his passion for conquest, with an ardor that completely represented Lee and helped wonderfully play the role. His beard seemed as one of those that were real, eliminating any error. Martin portrayed Lee as a calm General who is respected by his officers and loved by the troops just like the true Lee. He made an egregious mistake in his spotless career in military. He ordered the Confederate army assault the Union center.
Tom Berger played the General Longstreet. Tom portrayed James as a professional and competent commander and was reluctant to carry out Lee’s order for Pickett’s Charge. This was because he knew it would fail and lead to eventuual defeat of the Confederate at Gettysburg. Tom successfully handled a tough role of General Longstreet. The two commanders quarreled for the three days. This occurred in reality. If Lee took the Longstreet’s words into consideration, may be the Confederates would win the Gettysburg battle and war in general.
There was an outstanding supporting cast in the movie as well. Kevin Conway (acted as Sergeant Kilrain), Lang Stephen (played as Pickett George, Prince Andrew and Garnett Richard), and Eliot Sam (acted as the cavalry rugged General Buford John), Gorman Patrick played as John Hood Bell, Mallon Brian (acted as the terrific Hancock), and Jordan Richard (as Armistead Lewis), they are commendable for their determined realism and historical precision.
The best performance, though, was given to Jordan Richard (Armistead). He is the one who steals the film. Hancock and Armistead were friends prior to the war. Armistead was sad to face Hancock on the third day of the war. Lewis sensed his death and gave Longstreet a gift to take to Hancock’s wife after his death. The scene where Armistead was wounded and died is very emotional (McPherson & Ku%u0308nstler, 1993).
Jordan portrayed Lewis Armistead, the Confederate General. It was clear when he was delivering the two monologues on the day of Pickett’s Charge. He was eloquent and powerful. The speeches had a strong underlying emotion, as if Armistead had forecasted his untimely death a week later after Gettysburg battle was over.
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Gettysburg was casted at Gettysburg National Park. The scenes of war at Little Round Top and the Devil’s Den were shot at the Gettysburg’s battlefield. More than 5,000 people served as extras in the war scenes. The scenes were tasteful, they showed little gore and blood and fully portrayed the terrible violence of the war revealing the actions of both sides during the three days of the battle (Tanaka & Craig, 2003).
The movie comprehensively portrayed the historic Civil War at Gettysburg, and showed the battle from a personal level and from a big picture.
There was little gore, although, there was more death portrayed at Gettysburg. The movie is a good alternative for both adults and children because of its little profanity, despite the flaws like the lack of mentioning the cruel July heat, the flopping of bayonets, the smoke from actor’s mouth and fake beards. The movie is a serious and well -choreographed war sequence. It is full of realism and the war scenes were realistic and simple and not too dramatic (Sears, 2003).
Despite the length of the movie, Gettysburg holds the audience spellbound from the beginning to the end. This is because of the intensity of dramatic and realistic war scenes. It gave a new idea of the 19th century battle where opponents consisted of many men in hand to hand fight. This outstanding film is savored by people who love good acted war films that are sumptuously produced. Gettysburg is the most prominent Civil war movie filmed before.
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