Gettysburg (TV Movie 2011) Poster

(2011 TV Movie)

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Come for the inaccurate uniforms, stay for the inaccurate everything else
geoffawhite19789 March 2012
This "documentary"'s only positive quality might be as a comedy. But then, it's hard to laugh when you can barely stand the shaky cameras, the overtly jarring editing and supreme close-ups that would make even Stanley Kubrick cry out "enough!"

Bad cinematography aside, there's the acting. Apparently all men from the 1860's were jittery, ugly, and maniacal. Yes, War is Hell, and it makes demons out of normal people, but the people in this program are caricatures. This may have something to do with the fact that they hired a cast of Europeans, who do not speak a lick. They only grunt, yell, carry on, and generally make fools of themselves.

It's puzzling why the producers cast their gaze to Europe for reenactors. Apparently they didn't get the memo that the last Civil War movie was a dud, and that American Civil War reenactors are just dying to help someone get it right. For FREE. Movie producers have a ready-made cast of extras, who only want the privilege of portraying Civil War soldiers ACCURATELY.

And this documentary is horrendously inaccurate, not only in the minutiae of what the soldiers were wearing or what they looked like (Monty Python's rule about high-ranking people not having crap smeared all over them does not seem to apply here), but also in more important ways. Such as how cannons operate, or when the Federals reinforced the Round Tops, or who was making the decisions about the Federal left flank.

There is growing research about "negative knowledge." This is the idea that what some people say can actually DETRACT from the sum of knowledge in the world. This program fits that theory. It can only misinform, and one would do well to ignore this unqualified disaster.
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Valiant attempt, but inaccurate.
mattvoelkel21 April 2017
This is entertaining. I will not deny that. However, the factual errors are outrageous. One of the former reviews accused those who don't like it as armchair historians. I have my Master's in History, and have done my theses on Gettysburg (particularly cavalry actions there). I must say that this is highly inaccurate. Watch it if you want to see blood, gore, and action. It is great at making the story intense. Just do not take it for the gospel.
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Not History- Hogwash
casjedi11 August 2012
It seems very clear that others who have left glowing reviews of this "film" (I have to resist the gag reflex to call this such a thing) Like other reviewers who have stated quite accurately how horrible and inaccurate this presentation is, I add my thumbs down to the growing disdain. As a former re-enactor of the Blue and gray and a proud American, I was incredibly disappointed by this Farb- filled festival of feces. For those who don't know Farb is short for Farby which is a term we re-enactors use to describe inaccuracies in a re-enactors impression of a soldier or collectively in a camp or in a film. The most famous in "Glory"- a film I love when a young actor wears a "Swatch" his wrist as he waves to Morgan Freeman. Another example would be modern glasses or the scarf you can get at 7-11 with a paisley print. "Gettysburg" in this instance is an offense and "much offense too" as Hamlet said. The characters NEVER marched in the correct formation in the battle style of that day. And was all style but no substance. I am not only a former reenactor, but I am also a filmmaker myself and I was disgusted by the total lack of focus, and it was evident that the director and the brothers' Scott had no idea how Civil Wr Soldiers fought or spoke. The late Anthony Minghella , director of Cold Mountain, filmed in Romania and he had advisors like Michael Kraus, Don Toriani and the late Brian Pohanka to ensure historical accuracy. Pohanka and Kraus also worked on Ron Maxwell's Gettysburg and Ed Zwick's Glory. This "film"(again I gag), should be destroyed and forgotten and the same for all the DVD copies. This is not censorship- it is a mercy killing for the sake of honoring the men who gave the last full measure and ought not to be offended in such a way. This director is about to finish work on "Killing Lincoln" A friend of mine is in it, I hope that the director has done his homework.
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Can't Make Up Its Mind
jlhare-13 July 2011
I'm a cultural historian, and I've don't a good deal of work on representations of history. To expect that a movie will offer a completely accurate representation of events is to ask too much. Still, this one drips with inaccuracies. The devil is truly in the details. For example, maybe some would argue that showing LTG Richard S. Ewell arriving on horseback is forgivable, even though he really arrived in a carriage and his wooden leg was promptly shattered by a Union minie ball. Unfortunately, though, the arrival on horseback supports the idea that Ewell was eager to take vengeance for the leg he had lost. There's nothing to support this. Historians have found plenty of evidence that he was not fighter he had been. MG Isaac Trimble almost begged Ewell to order an attack on Culp's and Cemetery Hills on July 1, before Federal troops had entrenched and solidified a position. Ewell refused. There are similar gaffes throughout. It's not clear what point the producers wanted to make here; if it were, perhaps the reason for the easily avoided errors would be clear.
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esopus6 August 2012
I've been fascinated by the Civil War for 25 years. I've read just about everything I could get my hands on. Seen all the films, the big studio ones and the ones from smaller outfits.

Well, this one beats 'em all! Fantastic. Makes you feel like you're seeing the real thing. Hey, don't listen to the others on the page who are complaining about details and such. This film is incredibly good.

I've got a cousin from a few generations back that enlisted in 1861, fought in all the big eastern battles including Gettysburg, wounded twice and mustered out in D.C. after the surrender in '65. If he could be here to see this film, I think he would have been as riveted as I was by the realism. Even though I am in Canada now, this reminded how proudly American I am.

Man oh man, great job!
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Why doesn't anyone speak English?
Uncas91114 December 2011
You can make the case that the grammar of the regular enlisted man for North or South would be very basic, their vocabulary severely limited by a lifetime of not receiving any education.

But even the Generals and other officers, particularly those on the South, are speaking gibberish, not one discernible English phrase. And it takes away from me taking this program seriously to any degree.

I mean, do the actors get paid less if they just speak gibberish instead of English? Is that in the union contract or something? Case in point: Barksdale, he is shouting orders out that are in a language totally foreign to anything heard on planet earth. It really bothered me too because this was a pretty important commander in the "history" of the South, something the "history" channel doesn't take as seriously as most people, which in itself is confusing. Showing this man to be an illiterate buffoon that can't even muster a single properly structured sentence let alone a few words to his own troops does him a disservice.

Just nonsense. History Channel has produced another winner here.
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Tell Them That I Died Like A Brave Man.
rmax3048236 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
July first, second, and third, 1863 -- three days of horror in a small Pennsylvania farm town, the largest battle ever fought in the Western hemisphere.

Modern Americans haven't shown themselves to be too keen on the Civil War, although the sociopolitical arrangement that we see today was shaped by the war. In a 2007 telephone sample, college students were asked if the American Civil War occurred in the half-century between 1850-1900. Only 43% identified this period as the correct one. This is, however, an improvement upon 1986 numbers: during a survey in that year, only 32% answered the question correctly. I suppose most of them have heard of the Gettysburg address, though I doubt many have read Gary Wills' book on the subject.

In any case, even for those who have some interest in the battle in this remote town, there are myths floating around. (The battle began over shoes.) This film fills in some of the factual details that every American citizen ought to have SOME familiarity with. Not that -- as a film -- it's unimpeachable. It's filled with clichés and modernistic touches. Deaths are shown in slow motion -- we can blame Sam Pekinpah for that -- while blood squirts all over the place and innumerable CGIs produce fountains of fuzzy brown dust along with some convincing layouts of the environment.

It began when Robert E. Lee decided that Virginia, where most of the previous engagement had taken place, had just about exhausted the state's resource. He moved his army north, through Maryland, and into Pennsylvania, threatening Harrisburg and Washington, DC. He also hoped to pick up volunteers from Maryland, a slave-owning border state, and perhaps demonstrate to France and England that the Confederate Southern States deserved official recognition as a separate country. Neither hope was to be realized.

The gist of the battle is this. On day one, the two armies meet -- bit by it -- and the Union retreats to high ground and the Confederates drive the enemy out of Gettysburg, with Union officers hopping fences and hiding in cellars. A tactical victory for the South.

Day two: Lee is hobbled by a lack of intelligence. His cavalry, under J.E.B. Stuart is off someplace capturing supply wagons. The Union now occupy a ridge south of the town. Under General Mead they form a splendid defensive position -- almost a circle of men, protecting their position from attack from any direction. Lee attacks both flanks and after much carnage on both sides, a disproportionate amount of it due to General Daniel Sickles, a "political general" among the Federals, whose mistake is not discovered soon enough for correction. Lee's assaults are repulsed. No mention of Joshua Chamberlain or Little Round Top.

Day three: Lee guesses that Mead, having been attacked on the flanks, will reenforce his flanks at the expense of the center of his line. Therefore he marshals his men and after a ferocious but minimally effective bombardment, his thousands of troops assault the center of the line. This is generally and inaccurately called Pickett's charge on Cemetery Ridge. His men are slaughtered. Nothing about the irony of Hancock and Armistead. The next day, Lee takes his weary troops back to Virginia. The pursuit of the exhausted Union is late and perfunctory and Lincoln, fed up with non-aggressive generals, fires Mead.

The program treats the Battle of Gettysburg almost in isolation from outside influences. There's virtually nothing about politics or long-term strategy or the issues that caused this devastating conflict. What we see is almost a reenactment of the battle in more modern terms than usual. I mean, the violence is more graphic. There's blood everywhere, dripping, squirting, clotting. The photography is crisp but faddish, with desaturated color and wide-angled lenses turning sweaty, dirty faces into porpoises. Deaths are shown in slow motion. During pauses in the action, loud heartbeats rattle the woofers. Fortunately, there isn't the instantaneous cutting, swish pans, and wobbling camera -- otherwise we might as well be watching an old-fashioned "action movie" that's "based on a true story." Wardrobe has done a credible job. The costumes are convincing and so is the makeup. There are informative CGIs too. We can follow the path of a Minié ball as it enters the human body. An image shows us how a cannon is loaded and fired. There are several talking heads that add to our grasp of what's going on, and that's helpful because the story unfolding on the screen is sometimes murky. (There are too few maps.) But the film does deal with usually deemphasized incidents -- the futile battle of stupid Sickles in the peach orchard, the confused night-time assault on Culp's hill.

It was a momentous couple of days -- fifty thousand men dead, wounded, or missing. Americans butchering other Americans. The first general to die was a Union man, General Reynolds, but lots of generals were killed. With his last breath one of them, a Confederate hero, whispered to a wounded comrade, "Tell them that I died like a brave man." What a waste.
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Truly the documentary of documentaries
moviecyborg8 June 2011
Gettysburg is one of the most realistic and best told documentaries in the world. Not only does Gettysburg masterfully tell the story of this epic three day fight but it tells it in one of the most awe inspiring experiences in documentary history. The fashion in which this documentary is told realistically depicts the events that happened on July 1,2 and 3 by the masterful use of diagrams and reenactments. Half of Gettysburg is told through the eyes of soldiers who fought during the battles that occurred on the three faithful days at Gettysburg. The other half is a combination of narration simulations of charted movements and some of the most brutal but realistic reenactments in history. Overall Gettysburg is an amazing, realistic, well acted, well reenacted and well told documentary. The amazing amounts of information acquired from this documentary make this History Channel special a movie to see. I give Gettysburg a 10 out of 10 for it's amazingly told and reenacted story. Nobody should miss out on this amazing historic experience.
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Poorly Made, Hardly Accurate
MeadeIndeed23 October 2017
I'm not going to claim that I am an expert on the American Civil War, however I am a lover of history and as such I've studied it quite closely. Before watching this "documentary" I read up on the battle of Gettysburg and watched videos made by the tour guides who work there.

It made me very interested to learn more and then found this "documentary". Figured it couldn't hurt to see it. Right? What met me was a disjointed, uninteresting, muddled portrayal of the events that took place at Gettysburg. You have Rebel soldiers dressed in rags, not uniforms. You've got people running all over the place pretty much never staying in any kind of formation. Not to mention all the things they get wrong both big and small in terms of history.

The cinematography is sub-par to say the least, the camera is constantly shaking, it's cut up to all hell, using slow-motion as well as extreme close-up shots WAY too much.

Even with them trying to focus on specific soldiers to portray whatever story they were trying to tell the whole thing is hidden by a 20 inch layer of vaseline.

I have no idea what they were going for with this. It's boring, disjointed and impossible to follow from start to finish. Whoever says that this is a good or great film/documentary clearly have no point of reference because this is EASILY the worst historical portrayal of any kind I've EVER seen.

Then again, what else should I have expected from a History Channel production?
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PRVanAken7 December 2014
Ignore the reviews about inaccurate historical details, this film is very, very good. The action *must* be like it really was. Watch it. What a joke the reviewers here say about inaccurate historical details... they're just armchair historians giving poor reviews because they're obsessed with details about who did what and when. Who cares about who did what and when? It was such a chaotic battle, no one will ever really know the truth of what happened and when.

The action in this film blew me away. My great great uncle fought there, and I'm sure he'd agree that this is the way it was. One of the best CW films I've ever seen, maybe THE best. It's the combat scenes that make it and that's what I, and most other guys, want to see realistically depicted.

This film is simply the best. Ignore the nit-picking reviews. Darn the wannabe historians who think they have a corner on what the Civil War was about... Jeez.
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Too Disney for my taste
fxlafferty6 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Though I liked the cast for the most part- I did think Robert E. Lee was best portrayed by someone other than Martin Sheen- this movie was mostly 4 hours of gentlemanly Southern dialogue lightly intermingled with actual battle scenes, during many of which I saw very few soldiers fall... on either side. This was the bloodiest battle on American soil, over 600,000 lives lost, yet I barely saw any blood in this movie. The fighting only picked up in the last third of the movie- actually, soldiers were falling and dying for the entire 3 days. To state it simply, it's no Saving Private Ryan caliber representation of war. It's way too squeaky-clean for my taste, I like a lot more authenticity in these types of movies. If this film were made today, we'd all have a better idea of what really took place. Also left out were some key participants like Daniel Sickles, General George Meade, who was hardly a blip in this movie, even Jenny Wade, the only civilian killed, was left out. Speaking of which, where was the part of the battle that raged in the town of Gettysburg in which Jenny was killed? Seems to me they could have covered more in a 4 hour movie, and left out some of the pretty speeches.
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Informative but Inaccurate
writer31641321 December 2015
As a student currently in U.S. history, I found this film to be informative in the battle of Gettysburg and what the strategic plans for it were. However the historical fallacies were inaccurate, such as terrain, uniforms,and they missed a large portion of the history in the first day. It was not necessary to focus on one or two generals, however the movie itself was informative and the graphic details well done. If the movie focused more on surrounding area and the question of escaped slaves - which was brought up and dropped - this would be slightly more riveting. It was not intended for the armies to meet, however it was not Lee's turning point in the war as this could've been pointed out in other battles. The movie itself was slightly unconnected as the plot moved forward, and the whole thing was drawn out, even for a three day battle. The highlights were the explanations of bullets and canister, which i identified as grapeshot, as these were helpful in showing how there were innumerable casualties with each hit. It was an interesting movie, but inaccurate in it details and portrayal of the event.
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Bad editing
ayoshak31 August 2012
The editor keeps using the same video clips over and over. I cannot believe that there was not enough material filmed to choose from. This is just lazy editing.

Every couple of minutes I would recognise something as already seen and loose the narrative. I just hate that. Therefore this vote is for editing because it seriously spoilt my enjoyment.

I did not like the use of colours, in my opinion b&w or sepia would work better. Washed out palette with dominant purple is so easy to do but it looks artificial and cheap.

Also I did not like how interviews were used, all cut into three-words slices. It felt taken out context and faked, the true meaning cut away.
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