"Be warned. This is NOT a special edition with added footage. This "Recut" version is a drastically shortened 5 hour cut of the original almost 7 hour long epic mini-series. The original uncut version is still available on Amazon's website. Why Sony/Columbia is releasing this is beyond me. Who, aside from those with ADD would want to purchase a truncated version? The series is presented on 2 discs, compared to 3 discs on the original. It is in fullscreen with 2.0 mono sound and optional English and French subtitles."
A wonderful emotional view of the Civil War
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 02/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, yes there are a lot of problems with this as factual history. This is not Gettysburg or Gods and General. Don't think they ever set out for it to be. This is for the person who wants more personalities, more emotions and less history. So PLEASE do not judge this against the two movies based on the Shaaras' Books. This whole intent of this was distinctive different and it achieves what it set out to do.This is not for historians, this is for the people who have a little knowledge and interest in the Civil War - and likely that is all they want.For someone looking for a more emotional view of the Civil War, with more 'people and feelings' than true history, then this is a very nice read. It is the fictionalised account of the Geyers and the Hales, cousins - one family of the South, the other from the North, that find themselves divided and fighting each other during the War Between the States in the US. The Geyers were farmers, of the land, though were not slave owners, and the story focuses around their eldest son, John, an artist who went into the war as an artist correspondent, torn by his love for both families and seeing both sides of the argument. He hates the institution of Slavery, a hatred amplified by the hanging of his black friend, a freed man for hiding fugitive slaves. The Hales were city-folk. Not only were they divided on their views, but by their styles of life. You see all the various scenes of how families were divided, how the glory of war could turn sour for the many boys simply looking for adventure.There was a real John Geyser, and he did draw a lot of pictures as his time as a soldier. But he was not a war correspondent, and not that professional of an artists. Still is immature drawing carry a power to convey the horrors of war.So take the 'history' with a grain of salt and enjoy the 'emotions' of the great conflict that ripped families and friends apart.Stacey Keech is simply marvellous as Jonas Steel, and I defy anyone not to be moved by his and Julia Duffy's Mary performance as Mary, the woman Jonas loves and loves. Duffy, best known for Designing Women and Bob Newheart, show a charming, heart-wrenching portrayal of sweet Mary. Peck is super as Lincoln, in a roll he really wanted to play.So pop the popcorn and sit back and enjoy the sweeping 'Gone With the Wind' Hollywood version of the Civil War. There is fine acting and a lot of nice 'historical' touches since Bruce Catton was consultant to the film.The DVD is the full length version. Many video copies are a shortened version, so you you will be thrilled the see it in its intended form."
Civil War 101
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 06/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Once upon a time in a place far, far away, I was a Civil War buff. I couldn't read enough books about the massive war between the North and the South from 1861 to 1865. I paged through texts about ironclads, reveled in the descriptions of Shiloh, Bull Run, and Cold Harbor. I studied pictures of the movements of troops led by George McClellan and Ulysses S. Grant, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. I thrilled to the drama of Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. And I mourned as Abraham Lincoln fell to a southern assassin's bullet at Ford's Theater. I would read books by Bruce Catton, a sort of everyman's historian of the war who churned out books by the boatload twenty or thirty years ago. Moreover, and probably most importantly, I yearned to watch shows and movies based on events during the war. I remember being presently surprised at the time to learn that a huge mini-series, called "The Blue and the Gray," would soon air on television. Finally, I would see the events, people, and places I had only read about before. Yep, I vividly remember watching this series when it first premiered on television over twenty years ago. And I liked it, at the time. When I saw it coming out on DVD, I decided to watch it all over again.The passing of years can definitely modify prior assumptions. While I found parts of "The Blue and the Gray" intriguing, far too often the film descended into the deepest depths of sentimentality of the sappiest sort. The star of the picture is John Geyser (John Hammond), a young man with a knack for drawing who lives on his parents' farm in Virginia. He's got a bunch of brothers, a sister preparing to marry a successful businessman from Vicksburg, and several slaves. He yearns to head north, to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where his Uncle Jacob runs a newspaper. John figures his relative will hire him on the spot once he shows the man his drawings. Geyser gets the job when his uncle assigns him to cover the John Brown trial and the abolitionist's subsequent execution. At the proceedings, John meets Jonas Steele (Stacy Keach), a shady character with ties to the Pinkerton Agency and to the White House. A fast friendship forms between the two, with an even faster bond emerging between Steele and John's cousin Mary Hale (Julia Duffy). John heads back to his Virginia farm just in time to witness a bunch of bounty hunters commit a heinous crime against Jonathan Henry (Paul Winfield) for harboring a fugitive slave. At one point, young Geyser even meets the newly elected Abraham Lincoln (Gregory Peck).By the time the war breaks out, John Geyser's artwork covering the Brown trial lands him a job at Harper's as a war correspondent. It's just as well since John refuses to fight for the Union or the Confederacy, a position that alienates him from his pro-southern family. His anti-war views do not stop him from facing danger as he rescues the daughter of Senator Reynolds (Robert Vaughn), a girl named Kathy (Kathleen Beller), at the Battle of Bull Run. Predictably, John and Kathy become an item. So do Jonas Steele and Mary Hale when they tie the knot after Jonas joins the Union Army. We also learn Steele possesses an annoying psychic power that allows him to foresee disastrous events. Meanwhile, as Vicksburg falls to the North, John's sister loses her husband and nearly loses her child in the siege of that city. As the war grinds on and on with no end in sight, members of both branches of the family, Hale and Geyser, fall on the battlefield from bullet, disease, or both.This rather slipshod summary will have to suffice for a series that runs nearly six hours. The filmmakers did a good job covering many of the important issues of the day. John's internal conflict over whether he should fight or not, and for what side, is one many Americans faced during that conflict. Battle sequences inevitably rely on budgetary restrictions, so the only lengthy combat sequence is the Battle of Bull Run. It seems the filmmakers wished to focus on things not widely known about the Civil War, such as the use of hot air balloons for aerial surveillance, a repeating carbine, and the horrible conditions of prisoner of war camps. The movie keeps violence to a minimum, as per television standards, but a viewer does get the sense that the Civil War was no walk in the park for both soldiers and civilians. What do not work as well are the inaccuracy of the uniforms, the occasional digressions into comedy and romance, and the tendency of characters to teleport themselves across the country. I realize the whole idea of the movie is to show the war through the eyes of one man, but it gets ridiculous after a time when you see John Geyser popping up everywhere from Vicksburg to Bull Run. The cast roster is enormous. In addition to the actors listed above, you will see Sterling Hayden, Lloyd Bridges, Colleen Dewhurst, Rip Torn, Rory Calhoun, Warren Oates, and Geraldine Page filling roles both major and minor. Mr. Bentley from "The Jeffersons" even shows up for a minute or two! I think I can safely recommend this film to movie buffs. It's not perfect, not even close, but it would give a viewer a general idea of the issues that led to the war. You can't really hope to adequately inform through the medium of television, but what you can hope to do is get someone interested in reading more about a topic. "The Blue and the Gray" will do that, with a little luck."
A 'must see' if you're a history buff
Paul J. Moade | Jacksonville, FL United States | 06/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let me begin with a caveat. This movie is available in two versions. The full-length film (from the tv mini-series) and an abridged version. By all means, get the full length video. It's six hours long, but every scene in the story is relevent. The film itself chronicles historical events from a year or two prior to actual hostilities, up to the end of the war and Lincoln's assassination. The story is related from the viewpoints of two families (related by marriage): The Geysers from Virginia, and the Hales from Pennsylvania.Events and happenings in the movie are generally (but not always) seen via John Geyser's (John Hammond, IV) perspective. John is the youngest son of a well-to-do, but not wealthy Virginia farmer who is turned against Southern ideals by the death of a black friend. He seeks solice and employment with his Uncle Hale's newspaper and moves to Pennsylvania. However, John is not comfortable in the North either. He cannot bring himself to join the military because of the possibility of having to face his elder brothers in combat.The story is a moving one with several themes running through it. Brother against brother is one of the stronger themes, but also present are the price of friendship, loyalty to one's home, family and State, and responsibility. The issue of slavery is minimized - and probably well so, as that was not a major issue in the outset of the actual war in any event.The cast is superbly chosen for their parts, and play them with enthusiasm and credibility. All manner of charactorizations are present from the young boy who thinks of the war as a lark and adventure, to those who are committed due to home and family, and those who believe the war will be short and can't wait to be a part of history.Especially well done are the parts of Lincoln (Gregory Peck) and R.E. Lee (Robert Symonds). All charactors are believeable - moving the audience to tears at times.What's the bottom line?Well, scene for scene this may not be the most accurate depiction of the Civil War that can be found, but it certainly captures the flavor. I was disappointed that Gettyburg was so glossed over (but then there's an entire movie dedicated to that battle itself under its own title), however everything else seems to be there. The drama and acting are some of the best you'll find anywhere -- and the story is compelling.If you've any interest at all in what the Civil War was about or how it impacted those living during the time, this is the film to see. Two thumbs way up.~P~"
Can anyone explain
Ron | Jersey | 01/02/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Was there a call for a reverse special edition of this great miniseries. Full screen, poor video and audio, and a hacked up story. The original uncut version is still available, so do not waste your money on this. There was no reason to cut up this miniseries. It was only 7 hours to start with, so it was not exactly bloated. Stay away from this version."