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First of all I do like the film, for a TV movie it's more than decent.
However I do take issue with the way the hessian "mercenaries" are
depicted, especially Washington's monologue on how he can't comprehend
men willing to help in the suppression of the American people merely to
make money. I don't know if that's an authentic quote and Washington
didn't know better, but the fact remains that those "mercenaries" were
conscripts from German principalities, especially Hessen-Kassel, whose
monarch Landgraf Friedrich II. financed his lavish court life imitating
that of Versaillles by selling his troops regiment-wise to the English.
While properly trained, none of these soldiers were mercenaries. They were mostly the sons of peasants and artisans that were pressed into service and sent overseas to fight for a foreign king in a hostile country. With the exception of a few high ranking officers who spoke french or English they were mostly unable to communicate with the locals. Later on however, as the hessians eventually got a better understanding of the conflict, more than a third of them deserted their regiments, joined the American forces and stayed after the end of the war. Also part of the American force that won the final victory over the British in Yorktown was an all-volunteer German regiment under the command of General von Steuben.
I loved that simple, not overloaded with special effects, straight and very honest movie. The American revolutionary war was full of great events and the Crossing of Delaware in 1776 is one of those. The filmmakers did a decent job by depicting the gruesome and tiresome movements to the battle, the battle itself and its aftermath. Jeff Daniels is one of my all-time favorite actors, and here he shines as General Washington. His part is convincing, deep, decent and very real to life, He is a man of flesh and blood and he does what any officer will do in his stead. The film is dark, it really manages to show the coldness of winter, the harsh conditions, the hunger and misery of the army before the battle. It does show the brutal naked reality of war with its cold-blood cynicism and simple strife for survival. This is a must see movie
Good movies covering the Revolutionary War are few and I'd be surprised how
many of any value are out there. I enjoyed the acting and excellent
representation of all the historical figures in "The Crossing".
I'm juxtaposed to the stand that one viewer represents because there is no way to sugarcoat war, pretend that brutality didn't exist, nor disguise any profanity with "oh piffles". All things considered, it wasn't at all anything like the way other wars were portrayed.
Just remember to turn the TV off when little ones are around, or video tape it so you can watch it when they are asleep. To create an historical slice of life and portray it in a whitewashed manner would be an injustice and totally inaccurate. Not to mention the incorrect perception that older youth will get as to what war is all about. That would be the biggest lie of all.
I'm giving "The Crossing" five stars on the merits of it telling an
important story, and the solid performances turned in by Roger Rees,
Sebastian Roche and a few others. But the film is seriously compromised
by three things.
First, it's an absolutely bog-standard Hollywood treatment of a historical event, pulling together every trope in the industry (and underscoring how you're supposed to feel with insistent mood music at every turn).
Second, although the Hessian troops were certainly worthy of concern, a far worse enemy was the weather. From all accounts, the weather that night was horrific -- practically a blizzard -- with snow, sleet, high winds and huge chunks of ice floating down the swiftly-moving Delaware River to contend with. In fact, the snow was falling so heavily and the winds were so strong that the Hessians at Trenton actually canceled guard duty for the night because they would be unable to see or hear anything more than a few feet in front of them! (And in reality, they weren't drunk or hung-over; they were exhausted from not sleeping because they did indeed expect the Continental Army to attack; deserters had tipped them off that Washington was planning to attack, but no one knew when.) Does the film reflect this godawful weather? Nope, it has characters saying that they're cold, there's some rain, and (in one scene) there's a dusting of snow on the grass. That's it. The river is placid, winds are calm, there's no snow or ice floes. Absurd! Could the studio really not afford to give us some fake snow or styrofoam "ice floes"?!
But the worst thing about "The Crossing" is Jeff Daniels' depiction of Washington. To begin with, the script portrays Washington unlike reality. For example, when General Rall asks to surrender his sword directly to Washington, Washington refuses to accept it and wants to send a subordinate in his place. His aide tells him that he must go and accept it, as that's part of the honor code of officers. Newsflash to the filmmakers: George Washington was an officer in the British Army long before he was a revolutionary; he certainly would've known the proper protocol for surrendering. Indeed, there is no historical basis for this part of the film; it seems to have been invented out of whole cloth.
Even worse is Daniels' evocation of Washington's character, which runs contrary to every contemporary account from his friends, which show him as a man impossible to anger -- circumspect, taciturn and reserved; a man who preferred to talk as little as he could get away with, and when he did, he used neutral and carefully-chosen words. Daniels mischaracterizes Washintgon's temperament and manner of speech, and he also brings none of the necessary gravitas to the role. Washington may have been a man of few words, but he also cut a very imposing figure in his bearing. Daniels' Washington appears as a rather small man with a bad temperament, and no amount Daniels' grimacing or attempts to chew the scenery can make up for it. On those grounds, "The Crossing" is, unfortunately, a failure.
While I was struck by how powerful of a moment in history this was, I'd
have to downgrade my rating due to a couple of things. The graphic
nature of some of the violence was perhaps more than necessary;
however, what disturbed me most was the out-of-character tolerance of
profanity among the men and worse than that, his own use of profanity.
On August 3rd, 1776, General George Washington was so distressed by the use of swearing and cursing among his men that he issued the following order to all of his troops: "The General is sorry to be informed that the foolish, and wicked practice, of profane cursing and swearing (a Vice heretofore little known in an American Army) is growing into fashion; he hopes the officers will, by example, as well as influence, endeavour to check it, and that both they, and the men will reflect, that we can have little hopes of the blessing of Heaven on our Arms, if we insult it by our impiety, and folly; added to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any temptation, that every man of sense, and character, detests and despises it."
A great injustice has been done by portraying George Washington's character in a manner that is far less than he really was. I have not idealized him either, but know that some aspects of how he has been characterized are not accurate. How much more rich it would have been to have included such a quote in this movie, but do the producers see that this wouldn't be entertaining enough or maybe they shaped his character more so according to what they thought he must have been like? Why not seek to dig deeper to bring challenge for those today to consider the character of a man that is rarely seen in Washington today? What a lost opportunity to have made this movie of an unsurpassed quality.
Read for yourselves about the real George Washington and be careful not to succumb to Hollywood's depiction.
I saw The Crossing about 4 months ago in History class, since we were
studying about the Revolutionary War and about George Washington
crossing the Delaware river. I was surprised of how accurate it was. I
mean almost everything in it was the truth. The performances were
really good and Jeff Daniels played a great role as George Washington.
Overall, a good little film or TV show that was very entertaining. If
you also like violence in films, you will be sure to like this one
because there are enough violence to look at but I guess if you don't
really like violence, then I don't think this is a film to see. I
recommend it to a lot of people.
Hedeen's Outlook: 8/10 *** B
I usually don't like history movies, however, this film showed me a different side of history that I enjoyed to learn about. There are plenty of satirical remarks that keeps the movie a little less conservative. However, if you do not like blood or gore, there is a little bit of gruesome tone to certain parts of this film. There is also some inappropriate language so it is not recommended for small students. I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to anyone who likes or even dislikes History movies. My congratulations to the entire cast and crew who made this film what it is!
This movie is a great blood and guts war flick as well as a good historical drama. The director creates a realistic setting at the original location, Trenton, NJ. The movie explores difficulties Washington overcame to keep the Revolutionary Army together. There is some graphic violence, however, it is brief. A movie that you can enjoy if you watch it ten times over.
This was a long overdue film as there has been so little done on the Revolutionary War. I learned from it and hail the educational value involved in the events. However, I find it most unfortunate that it contains highly offensive language as well as close-up scenes of graphic bloody violence. I am reasonably certain that many young students were watching this on advice from teachers and parents, only to have it turned off by a great many responsible adults because of these objections I have mentioned. Otherwise, it was very well done.
I quite enjoyed 'The Crossing'. Jeff Daniels is a world away from his
character in 'Dumb & Dumber', playing the future 1st President of the USA.
He gives Washington a stolid, taciturn manner, which is offset in some
moments by needed levity (to boost the morale of his men). I admired the way
Washington would give up at nothing to secure some sort of victory for what
was left of his army. He was desperate, yes, but didn't lose his dignity. I
found the rest of the acting uniformly good -- the brief part by Sebastien
LaRoche (did I get that name right?) was perfectly done.
My only beef -- and don't get me wrong is that this movie about a famous event in American history was filmed in TORONTO, ONTARIO! I had a feeling the cast was mainly Canadian when I saw a few familiar faces. I mean, the filmmakers saved some $ by filming up here, but the power of the story was nullified somewhat by finding out about the film location.
Overall, though, a good movie and recommended for history buffs.
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