Published on June 8th, 2011 | by Chris5
Gettysburg (1993/2011, Director’s Cut, Blu Ray)
I have to admit, first of all, that I have not seen the original 1993 cut of Gettysburg. Shame on me, I know, so I have nothing to compare any "Director's Cut" to.
This film chronicles the events on both sides, surrounding the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. It does so in a pretty good "historical drama" type of format, with some caveats... keep reading.
First off. The Director's cut weighs in at a whopping 271 minutes. Which seems like a lot (and it is) but consider that the original was "only" 261 minutes. So pencil in a full afternoon for this one. Once you get going into it, it really doesn't seem like that long, thankfully. But I think I can spot the scenes that were left on the floor originally. At least some of them.
I also can't speak to the historical accuracy of much (if any) of the movie, I haven't' done my homework, so keep that in mind.
I have to say, that this really could be more of an epic/classic film than it is. It suffers on a few points, unfortunately. The soundtrack being one of them. I see plenty of reviews about how "emotional" and "moving" it is. It actually could be, if it didn't sound like it came from a computer. From the beginning, it had that "canned" feel to it. A minor pick I know, but when you're dealing with 4+ hrs of screen time, it matters.
Second, there are some scenes which, and I should pick my words carefully, felt like they were either afterthoughts, rushed, reshoots, or something I'm not sure of. The acting in them was wooden, especially (and surprisingly) at times from Martin Sheen (Gen. Lee) and Tom Berenger (Gen. Longstreet) .... On the other hand, Jeff Daniels (Col. Chamberlain) and Sam Elliot (Gen. Buford) had it down. I'm not sure whether or not to chalk this up to character acting or what. It is decidedly difficult to recreate a persona based on written accounts and photos, which I suspect is what happened here.
On the other hand. Once you get past some of the "closer in" talking heads scenes, as a historical battlefield drama it really is quite good. I'm talking epic-scale. Forget about your computer generated armies here, folks, what you have is hundreds of re-enactors out there on the battlefield recreating one of the bloodiest scenes of the Civil War. It is really an impressive and jaw-dropping sight. The movie also manages to convey just how particularly dreadful conditions were, how completely wasteful battles like this were, and the widely disparate conditions between officers and "grunts."
I did find it curious (as others who have reviewed it) that this movie would seem to side more with the Confederacy in its presentation. The (drawn out) scene with Gen. Lee rousing the troops before the charge was a particular example of this. A disproportionate amount of screen time seemed to be given to the South "behind the scenes", maybe due to Sheen and Berenger, getting them more screen time, who's to say. I suspect some of the Lee scene, and some of the more lengthy battle scenes may have been dropped for the original release, maybe someone who has seen both can comment.
There are some poignant moments on the side of the Union, as well, particularly as it pertains to Chamberlain and Buford and their respective men. Good stuff that should not be overlooked, but more could have been done with them. A scene with the younger Chamberlain brother (C. Thomas Howell) and some captured "Rebs", is also not to be missed.
As for the Blu Ray presentation... Not bad at all. The sound inparticular is brilliant. When those cannons start firing, hold onto your seat, because you will feel it there. Picture wise, it appears to be an accurate and faithful representation of a '93 film, grain and all. Not a bad thing, just don't expect crystal-clear HD. No visible "black noise" to be found. I have not delved into the extras yet, either. The "book" retail packaging is a nice touch, tons better than those cheap little blue plastic things, and will stand out for sure on your shelf.
I would highly recommend this movie, even parts of it, as an educational tool in the classroom. (Spread out over an entire week to be sure!) It isn't particularly gory (it could have been), and no profanity or "adult bits" that I recall.
I will have to go back and watch this again, maybe a couple more times. I think the length itself causes a bit of that "too long, didn't read" syndrome, which can cause you to stop paying real close attention. And it did happen to me a couple of times. Who knows, it may grow on me more! I will have to do my homework next time as well 😉
I have to cave, though, despite the things I didn't like above and give Gettysburg a 7/10. The sheer scope of the film alone is worth it, and if it gets you interested in history then even better. Overall, I actually did enjoy it when it was over, believe it or not.
Gettysburg: Director's Cut (Blu-ray Book Packaging)
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Marking the 150th-anniversary commemoration of the Civil War, Ronald F. Maxwell’s acclaimed film now arrives in a Director’s Cut featuring 17 minutes of compelling additional footage. Filmed at actual battle locations and full of authentic details, this rousing and soulful movie plunges you into the heat of the bloodiest battle fought on American soil...
DVD InformationBinding: Blu-ray
Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Brand: Warner Manufacturing
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Original Release Date:
- Tom Berenger
- Jeff Daniels
- Martin Sheen
- Stephen Lang
- Factory sealed DVD
Summary: The sheer scope of the film alone is worth it, and if it gets you interested in history then even better.