The fiercest battle fought on American soil commands the screen an epic film achievement painstakingly recreating the people and events of fateful days in july 1863. Special features: subtitles in English and French, cas/c... more »rew interview gallery, cast/director filmographies, and much more.« less
David M. (KingofGarageSales) from FAYETTEVILLE, AR Reviewed on 12/19/2017...
The Battle of Gettysburg, the biggest and bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil (with combined losses exceeding 53,000) lasted for three days; July 1-3, 1863.
In order for a film—especially an historically-based one—to succeed it must persuade the viewer to temporarily suspend disbelief and accept the premise that the events depicted did (approximately) happen. Or, at least, that they could have.
To its credit, “Gettysburg” does make good use of “a cast of thousands” firing single-shot civil-war-era rifles (leaving one to wonder: where did they GET all of those guns???), and for what it’s worth, the film is geographically accurate, much of it having been filmed on site.
But there are just too many disbelief-suspension gaps that remain unfilled for the movie to even approach being engrossing. Foremost was Martin Sheen’s stilted lines and wooden delivery as he attempted to portray General Robert E. Lee. (His zenith, unfortunately, was reached some years ago as President Jedidiah Bartlett in “The West Wing”).
One with military experience might not be perplexed by the nomenclature, but a lay viewer could easily wonder if a “pirouette to the left flank” by a “battalion” would assure a victory against a “brigade”, or would a “division” be called for? Some of the uniforms were less than obvious: Even this viewer knew that those in dark blue were Union soldiers, while the soldiers in grey were Confederates, but which side were the soldiers in blue-grey uniforms on? Or those with red cuffs and epaulettes? Was General Armistead the superior of General Longstreet? Or was it the other way around? Or were they on different sides of the battle?
Watching the DVD movie “Gettysburg” did not take three days, although as it made its plodding and peristaltic way to the denouement, it assuredly seemed at times that it might.
Amanda B. from WEST CHESTER, PA Reviewed on 1/25/2011...
Excellent movie for all ages. It is refreshing to see God receiving the glory he deserves in a film Highly recommended.
3 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Stephen K. from LAUREL, MD Reviewed on 12/10/2010...
Opulent saga of the battle that was the turning point of the U.S. Civil War. The main characters are all well researched and well enacted. The pageantry of the warfare is well represented as well. Overall, this is the kind of movie that bears multiple repeat viewings.
6 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Carole D. from SEAL BEACH, CA Reviewed on 1/31/2010...
If you like this time period, you'll love this movie.
3 of 8 member(s) found this review helpful.
Windel M. (Windel) from DE SOTO, MO Reviewed on 9/1/2008...
"Here they come again, boys!!"
1 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Duane S. (superpoet) from FORT WORTH, TX Reviewed on 2/13/2008...
This is an incredible movie depicting one of the most memorable battles of the Civil War. There is so much great dialogue between the pivotal actors. General Amistad has a great speech, which is in a conversation with one of the other officers. No women are given speaking roles in this film. The musical score is stupendous. I give this movie 5 (five) stars !!!!!!!!!!
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
A brilliant recreation of America?s most famous battle!
Mike Powers | Woolwich, ME USA | 08/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Gettysburg" is one of my all-time favorite war films! It re-creates the Civil War's battle of Gettysburg with superb acting, an excellent screenplay, a hauntingly beautiful musical score, and some of the most authentic and stirring battle scenes I've ever seen in a movie. Based upon Michael Shaara's Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Killer Angels," this film follows the principal characters, and chronicles the main events, which occurred at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania from July 1-3, 1863. The events depicted in the film are notable for their historical accuracy. Some of the most exciting battle scenes in the film are General John Buford's engagement with the Confederates on the high ground north of Gettysburg on July 1; the defense of Little Round Top by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain's 20th Maine on the following day; and, of course, Pickett's Charge on the final day of the battle. The battle scenes contain plenty of smoke and fire, but are also very tastefully done with a minimum of blood and gore.The acting in "Gettysburg" is excellent throughout. Jeff Daniels , who portrays Chamberlain, probably gives the best overall performance, but Martin Sheen (Robert E. Lee), Tom Berenger (Gen. James Longstreet), Sam Eliot (Buford,) Stephen Lang (Gen. George Pickett), and Kevin Conway (Sergeant Kilrain) also give performances which are outstanding for their realism, grittiness, and historical accuracy. Special mention must also go to the late Richard Jordan, whose portrayal of Confederate General Louis Armistead was consistently eloquent and moving."Gettysburg" is a long movie; it runs to just over four hours. Still, it held me spellbound from start to finish, mainly due to its dramatic intensity and realistic battle scenes. I highly recommend this outstanding film not only to Civil War enthusiasts, but for anyone who loves a sumptuously produced and well acted war film."
Outstanding transfer to DVD
E. Orgon | Syosset, NY USA | 12/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many other reviewers have written about the movie Gettysburg itself, so I thought I would comment on the DVD itself.I have an extensive DVD collection, and if you have experienced what I have, among them are the great quality transfers and some real dogs. Gettysburg might well be THE finest transfer I've seen. The video (I play it on a widescreen HDTV) and audio are outstanding. I must emphasize that the video delivers unbelievable clarity, perhaps the best I've seen. Clearly, the careful attention to detail and loving recreations that were the foundation for the original movie have been carried to the DVD with that same committment. It is refreshing to see a studio that REALLY cares about its product.As an aside, I should also mention I am an amateur Civil War historian focused on the battle of Gettysburg and of course find the film an outstanding, albeit limited, short history of the battle. This DVD will expand other people's knowledge if they avail themselves of the feature length commentary, especially the portions by James McPherson from Princeton U. His narrative not only amplifies details of what the movie shows, but also puts a broader perspective on it, such as other important engagements at Gettysburg such as Culp's Hill, the Wheatfield, and others.Bottom line: GET THIS DVD."
"Gettysburg" holds true to Shaara's book
M. Veiluva | Walnut Creek, CA United States | 10/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Gettysburg" is perhaps the best attempt by any film to capture a single battle from beginning to end. It is not a movie for everyone since there is no artificially-embedded love story (as in. "Pearl Harbor"), and in fact, there are no women in this movie at all. It sets out to depict the largest battle ever fought on the American continent. Its success is the product of the deliberate choice of the director to respect the source material, namely one of the finest historical war novels ever written, "The Killer Angels", by Michael Shaara. Gettysburg is a battle of superlatives. It was the largest and bloodiest encounter battle of the Civil War, adding up the three days between July 1 and July 3, 1863, and it tore the heart out of the Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.. It is also the most controversial battle, generating more than its share of debates over decisions and tactics. Was Lee off his game at Gettysburg, as Shaara suggests? Or, as other historians argue, was the battle lost by "Old Pete" Longstreet's case of the "slows" on July 2 (the attack on Devil's Den and Little Round Top) and July 3 (Pickett's Charge)? Longstreet's postwar memoirs lay the blame for Pickett`s Charge squarely at Lee's feet, but since Longstreet joined the Republican party after the war, many Southerners are quick to blame him for Lee's defeat.Shaara's book, and therefore the film, makes choices in this debate. Shaara sides with Longstreet (aptly played by Tom Beringer), who is depicted as a thoughtful, reluctant warrior who vocally opposes the sanguinary frontal assaults launched by Lee on July 2nd and July 3rd . (For a different perspective, I highly recommend Noah Trudeau's latest book, "Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage.")It is a delight to see the musty daguerreotypes of Civil War leaders come to life as living, breathing characters. For the Confederates, Tom Berringer's Longstreet is tops, followed by Confederate generals "Lo" Armistead (Richard Jordan) and Stephen Lang `s amazing George Pickett, a stunning contrast to Lang's later alabaster imitation of Christ as Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in "Gods and Generals." These are interesting, complex people, and "Gettysburg" even manages a sense of humor. The debate on Darwin between Pickett and Armistead is funny, concluding with Pickett defying any Southern gentleman to openly claim that "Robert E. Lee is descended from an ape." On the Union side, there is Jeff Daniels as the bookish hero Joshua Chamberlain, Sam Elliott as the hard-bitten cavalry general Buford, and Brian Mallon's pugnacious General Winfield Scott Hancock. Some die-hard grognards have complained that "Gettysburg" glosses over details of the battle. But Shaara, and the film, were right to concentrate on the highlights: the initial skirmish and ultimate Union rout on July 1, the confused battle for Devil's Den, the Peach Orchard, and the against-all-odds defense of Little Round Top on July 2 by Joshua Chamberlain's (Jeff Daniels) 20th Maine; and, of course, Pickett's Charge. Massive volumes have been written about just one day of the three day battle, and any film which tried to cover it all would be a ponderous bore.The few speeches in the movie are necessary, I suppose, to explain the larger motives for the war. Jeff Daniels' Chamberlain has to give the obligatory Abolitionist speech, and Armistead trys to explain the Southern "Cause" to the English camp follower Freemantle just before Pickett's Charge. The few speeches in `Gettysburg" hint at the malignancy that emerges full flower in "Gods and Generals" (written by a different Shaara) in which the camera's pause on any character become the excuse for a five to ten minutes of pious blather. The flaws of the film are few. One major flaw is Martin Sheen's portrayal of Robert E. Lee as an unblinking somnambulist, whose approach to strategy is by mumbling "it is God's will" as officers rush up with dispatches. Robert Duvall's more animated Lee is the only (and I mean only improvement) that "Gods and Generals" has on "Gettysburg." Sheen's wide-eyed robot Lee is hard to square with the historical brilliance of Lee at Second Bull Run and Chancellorsville, and contemporary accounts of Lee as a witty conversationalist, a battlefield gambler, and with an eye for the ladies. Ted Turner's use of thousands of amateur reenactors to stage the battle is both a blessing and a curse, but mostly a blessing. Let's face it - the authentically-decked out and equipped amateur soldiers look far more like the real thing than the standard Spanish rent-an-army employed in similar epics such as "Waterloo." However, I suspect that the troops in the movie, particularly on the Southern side, are cleaner, neater, better fed and older (lots of retired folks are reenactors) than the actual participants in the battles. (A common observation of the time was that you could smell Lee's troops approaching before you would see them). The other problem with reenactors is they object to having their limbs and heads blown off, or torsos reduced to bloody pulp by cannon balls. This is not "Private Ryan" or "Band of Brothers" - these soldiers, even when blasted by cannon, die clean deaths, and do not convey the historical eyewitness accounts of the horror, not to mention thousands of corpses set out in the hot July sun. But these are very minor quibbles. This is as good a re-enactment using real people as you can expect.I recommend "Gettysburg" for historical movie fans, and do not forget the wonderful Ken Burns' documentary, "The Civil War.""
Historically Accurate, Balanced, Fascinating
gottliebschaller | 06/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"July 1,2,3 of 1863 were pivotal days in our country's history. "Gettysburg" does an admirable job of summing up the actions and emotions of this battle in about 4 hours. This is the best Civil War movie that you are ever going to see. Why is it so good? Here are a number of reasons:ONE: The Acting...There is a good amount of solid actors playing key roles in this movie. Sam Elliot, Martin Sheen, Jeff Daniels, and Tom Berenger are the big names. They are supported by other very good actors. They play their parts with proper accents and believability.TWO: Balance...Some Civil War movies almost make the South seem like the bad guys ("Glory" comes to mind). No matter what part of the country you are from, as you watch "Gettysburg" you feel for the fighters on both sides. You understand the tough choices they had to make as this movie spends even time in both army camps. In a normal movie, I would have expected the Pickett's Charge scene to be a story of the Northerner's great stand. In this movie, both the South and the North are given their due during this key assault. THREE: Personal Stories...This movie isn't just about the nuts & bolts of the battle (who was stationed here, who charged there etc...), but it also does a phenomonal job of telling the stories mostly of the key officers in this battle: Buford, Stuart, Chamberlain, Lee, and Longstreet. One part that was especially done well was the struggle between two close friends, Armistead (CSA) and Hancock (USA).FOUR: Soundtrack...Very appropriate and beautiful music during different parts of the battle. I could go on, but I think this highlights the strengths of this great movie. It's one that's well worth watching."
Learn more about the Civil War than you ever knew.
John Cobb | Austin, TX | 02/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wonderful depiction of the events leading to a pivotal battle of the Civil War, the battle of Gettysburg, with a focus on 3 key individuals: Confederate General Robert E. Lee (played brilliantly by Martin Sheen), Lee's second, Lt. General James Longstreet (Tom Berenger), and Union Col Joshua Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels).Truly classic storytelling beautifully presented. Each key event is intelligently and gently depicted leaving little of the battles, the personalities, and the actions to be misunderstood. I felt much closer to the unfortunate events that were our Civil War than I ever imagined. I don't consider myself ignorant as a rule, but to tell the truth I never envisioned that the battles were basically fought hand-to-hand, face-to-face, long lines of fighting men falling, almost randomly, on both sides.This movie, along with John Frankenheimer's "Andersonville" jump-started a serious interest for me in these historical docudramas, and the Civil War in particular. Thank you Mr. Frankenheimer, and Mr. Ronald Maxwell (director of "Gettysburg")."