The four and 1/4 hour depiction of the historical and personal events surrounding and including the decisive American civil war battle features thousands of civil war re-enactors marching over the exact ground that the federal army and the army of North Virginia fought on. The defense of the Little Round Top and Pickett's Charge are highlighted in the actual three day battle which is surrounded by the speeches of the commanding officers and the personal reflections of the fighting men. Based upon the novel 'The Killer Angels'. Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
Ron Maxwell tried for nearly 15 years to get this film made. By the time he had succeeded, author Michael Shaara had died. Maxwell met with his son Jeff Shaara during production and convinced him to carry on his father's work, which he did by writing a prequel, Gods and Generals, and a sequel, The Last Full Measure. The former was actually turned into the film Gods and Generals (2003) by Maxwell. The younger Shaara has also used his father's historical fiction approach to the American Revolution, the Mexican-American War, and both World Wars. See more »
Early in the fight by Buford's cavalry the camera pans past a U.S. flag behind a group of cavalry men. Cavalry did not normally carry a full sized U.S. flag. The flag is the size carried by infantry, not the smaller cavalry standard. See more »
Vivid, well worth seeing, faithful to book,heartbreaking ending
This movie picks up steam as it goes along - leading to its wrenching end, as did the battle.
The performance of Richard Jordan as Lo Armistead must be singled out for praise - his anguish was very moving. I'd loved the actor in The Friends of Eddie Coyle and what a job he does. (It helps that he's given the best lines in the movie). Martin Sheen as Robt. E. Lee is not the first name that would come to mind - but I think he gave a fine performance - his accent was entrancing. Sam Elliott is perfectly chosen as (and wonderfully played) the western General John Buford. I also think Jeff Daniels was absolutely wonderful - conveying so well the different manner of someone who until a year before, had been a civilian professor, not a colonel. Unfortunately although I'm generally a fan of Tom Berenger, I wasn't particularly moved by any scene he was in - he kind of walks through it.
The movie is written so well - and its pace just fine. There are so many interesting scenes, touching on many different aspects of life and war - from the nature of man and race to the paradox of a general loving his army yet having to sacrifice it. Jordan brought home so well the closeness of the senior officers to those on the other side.
I loved how well they showed the varied purposes for fighting of the different armies, and the occasional reference to a perceived resentment by the Union soldiers over what they saw as Confederate pretensions to higher social class. ("They're so arrogant", etc.).
The music is first rate - and definitely enhances the drama. The depiction seems quite authentic.
Some niggling criticisms: aside from the map at the start of the movie, there is none. Maps would definitely have helped to undeerstand the overall picture. People commonly refer to directions (from the norht, from the west, etc.) or "we must flank them to the right" and it's hard to understand if you haven't read about the battle.
The scene with the runaway slave is too abbreviated from the book - it doesn't have much impact in the movie.
Kevin Conway's dialogue and accent was a bit over the top, and the English military attache was rather clicheed.
For all that General Hancock is referenced, we see very little of him.
We see the diatribe by General Trimble against General Ewell - but without seeing anything of that battle (or Ewell ever), it just hangs there - rather than being part of any continuous story. (In the book, Ewell's and Early's conduct is more discussed - including a wonderful scene by the two with Lee). If they weren't going to discuss that side of the battle, they should have left Trimble's (well-played) trembling anger out of the story - it doesn't belong in this movie.
Gen. Longstreet is the star of the book and movie - yet I never sensed from Berenger the great brooding quality (and he wasn't given any reference to the fact that his thre children had just died) that he has throughout the battle - according to the book. Similarly, Gen. Lee's health (his heart and headaches, etc.) is a constant factor - not shown in the movie.
Despite the criticisms, this is a wonderfully done movie - from a Pulitzer Prize winning book. It's long - but quite clear, and very deeply moving. I defy anyone to see the last 1/2 hour and not have tears in their eyes. I'd very strongly recommend this.
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