Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Modern-Day Movies

How about Gettysburg?

Released to the public in 1993, Gettysburg may have put to work more actors and extras than any other Civil War film. The casting was excellent, with Martin Sheen as Robert E. Lee, Tom Berenger as James Longstreet, and Stephen Lang as George Pickett. Some critics complained that the film went on too long, but those who had already invested three hours were not reluctant to spend one more.

The battle scenes were often splendid; the fight for Little Round Top has never been surpassed in terms of dramatic intensity. But the lead-up to Pickett’s Charge did go on a long time, and the viewer was—perhaps necessarily—spared some of the worst of the blood and gore. It might have been too much to see how much suffering was caused during that one hour on July 3, 1863. Where the film falls short, however, is with the lack of female roles. Of course, 99.5 percent of all the people on a battlefield were men, but that did not prevent the filmmakers from using the wonderful story of Jennie Wade, the only civilian casualty of Gettysburg. Then, too, the amazing story of John Burns was not used at all.


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